Past Events

Field trip to Borland

Friday 12th of February 2016, 12:00 AM (7 years ago)

Contact: Gretchen Brownstein | | 0210658497

Friday 12th–Sunday 14th February 2016. A weekend field trip to Borland in East Fiordland to explore the beech forests, lake margins and alpine areas. The area is rich in botanical and ecological history. A hand lens, camera and sense of adventure are a must! We will be staying at the Borland Lodge, so please RSVP to Gretchen Brownstein by 20th January 2016

Field trip to Old Man Range

Saturday 19th of December 2015, 08:00 AM (7 years ago)

Contact: David Lyttle | | (03) 454 5470

Joint trip with Dunedin Branch of Forest and Bird. The Old Man Range is one of the high, block ranges of Central Otago. The main summit plateau is above 1600 m and is of varied topography with bare, windswept slopes, snowbanks, gullies and wetlands each supporting different plant communities. We propose visiting the Hyde Rock area at the southern end of the range where we will be able to see representative examples of the different vegetation types. There are extensive snowbanks where Hebejeebie trifida, Celmisia haastii, Geum uniflorum, Ranunculus pachyrrhizus and Caltha obtusa may be found. The area is floristically very rich and despite being extensively botanised, there are a number of poorly known or undescribed species present. Examples recorded belong to the genera Myosotis, Ranunculus, Chionohebe, Cardamine and Luzula. To gain access 4WD vehicles are required. Places on this trip may be limited. The Old Man Range is a severe, high-alpine environment with high winds and very cold temperatures so warm clothing and good parkas are essential. Bring lunch. Leaving Botany car park 8.00 am returning late as we aim to spend as much time as possible in the field.

Allan Mere Award Ceremony

Thursday 10th of December 2015, 05:20 PM (7 years ago)

Contact: Robyn Bridges | 021 235 8997

We are delighted to announce that Alan Mark has been awarded the 2015 Allan Mere Award for his outstanding contributions to botany over a life time of distinguished botanical work. Anthony Wright, President of the New Zealand Botanical Society, will be coming to Dunedin to present the precious greenstone/pounamu Allan Mere to Alan. There will also be a presentation entitled, "Images and Adventures", which will tell the stories and show the places where some of the photos selected for Alan's Book, Above the Treeline, were obtained. Everyone is invited to come and celebrate this special occasion in the Benham Seminar Room, Room 215, on the second floor of the new wing on the Zoology Building, 346 Great King Street, beside the Captain Cook Hotel. Please be prompt, as the door will only be held open until 5.30 pm.

The award-giving will be followed by our end of year dinner, starting at 7 pm, at Vogel St Kitchen, 76 Vogel St, in the warehouse precinct just north of the Cumberland Street overbridge and tucked in between the two one-way streets. Please let Robyn Bridges know if you wish to attend.

Field trip to Black Rock Scientific Reserve

Sunday 29th of November 2015, 09:00 AM (7 years ago)

Contact: John Barkla | | 027 326 7917

Black Rock Scientific Reserve (144 ha) on the Lammerlaw Range was set aside in 1971 to preserve an area of low altitude snow tussock grassland. The reserve consists of gently rolling ridges (690–770 m above sea level) dominated by narrow-leaved snow tussock (Chionochloa rigida) associations and with shallow gullies containing sphagnum bog and other vegetation communities. The reserve has been the subject of vegetation monitoring and study since its inception. A study carried out by Bullock in 1972 recorded c. 114 vascular plant taxa. We'll make a plant list during our visit and compare this with the 1972 list. Meet at the Botany department car park at 9 am. Return by 4 pm

Botanical adventures in the Russian Far East, from Japan to the High Arctic

Wednesday 4th of November 2015, 05:20 PM (7 years ago)

Contact: David Lyttle | | (03) 454 5470

Speaker, Dr Alex Fergus. Join Alex for a botanical adventure in the Russian Far East. For 14 weeks, over four years, Alex and a ship-load of botanical sympathizers (they had no choice) cruised thousands of kilometers along the entire eastern coastline of Russia. Our exploration begins at the southern tip of the Kamchatka Peninsula, where we follow the Kuril Island chain, an active arc of volcanoes, south toward Japan and our southern-most point, Kunashir Island (44°N). The Kuril Islands astound with surprises, from abandoned soviet cities in sunken calderas, to Bamboo (Sasa) thickets under Larch canopies punctuated with Fritillarias and Trilliums. From here we head north along the east coast of Sakhalin Island and circumnavigate the Sea of Okhotsk, taking in the diverse Shantar Archipelago, before regaining the Kamchatka Peninsula and heading north. Leaving mainland Russia, we push seaward to the westernmost of the Aleutian Islands, The Commanders, treeless clag-cloaked islands with rich herb-dominated tundra, and the resting place of Vitus Bering. We return once again to the Kamchatka Peninsula and proceed to steam north along the coast for 2000 kms. Slowly, forests give way to tundra, as the permafrost thickens, and summer day lengths and temperatures truncate. Nevertheless, floristic 'spectularities' are still be found in the likes of Keyflower (Dactylorhiza orchids) fields and Brown Bear infested brightly coloured dwarven Rhododendron copses. Pushing north, we encounter some of Russia's richest coastal tundra on the southern Chukotkan Peninsula, where terraces dominated by pink Fireweed (Chamerion) and blue Monkshood (Aconitum) are beleaguered by the voracious appetites of gobbling hordes of Northern Pika (tiny-barking rabbits) and Arctic Ground Squirrels. Making our way through the Bering Strait we pass Russia's eastern-most point, Ratmanov Island (Big Diomede), an Alcid paradise, where Russia is separated from the US by only 4 kms. We follow the Russian coastline once more north and east, toward the vastness of Kolyuchin Inlet, a haven for waterfowl and migratory waders, where ponds of Mares-tail (Hippuris) give way to gravelly arid strips of lichens and what are typically alpine specialists (e.g. Diapensia), here, only a meter or two above sea level. Once again, and for the last time, we head north, really very far north, to Wrangel Island (71°N). On Wrangel winds buffer the Arctic Tundra, Muskox graze shrubby inland river valleys, and Polar Bears harangue Walrus in the surf. Here also, the last Mammoth, a miniature ginger variety, foraged a unique mixture of steppe and tundra plants less than 4000 years ago. With 420 taxa, Wrangel has more than double the plant diversity of any other Arctic island of comparable size. Wrangel has more endemic plant species than all of Greenland, and is home to 24 rare Arctic endemics, many of which are relic Pleistocene species from the all but lost Beringian Land Bridge. Wrangel Island is the pinnacle of our Russian botanical adventure.

* Note, this talk will be mostly photos, it may include tastings of Labrador Tea, and for authenticity, we best follow it up with a small glass of vodka.

At the Zoology Benham Building, 346 Great King Street, behind the Zoology car park by the Captain Cook Hotel. Use the main entrance of the Benham Building to get in and go to the Benham Seminar Room, Rm. 215, 2nd floor. Please be prompt as we have to hold the door open.

Products of history: Immigration timing of New Zealand plant ancestors affects present-day communities

Wednesday 14th of October 2015, 05:20 PM (7 years ago)

Contact: David Lyttle | | (03) 454 5470

Speaker, Angela J. Brandt, Landcare Research—Manaaki Whenua, Dunedin. Island floras tend to be distinctive in their diversity and composition often with large numbers of endemic species in few genera. One proposed explanation for this pattern is the interplay of ecological and evolutionary processes where early-arriving plant ancestors encounter greater opportunity to colonise new environments and diversify. These early-arriving groups may thus fill ecological niches and preclude later arrivals from establishing subsequently dominating plant communities to the present-day. Using dated molecular phylogenies to estimate order of arrival of plant ancestors to New Zealand, I show that early-arriving lineages tend to dominate communities in both relatively young (alpine) and older (forest) ecosystems. However, the current challenge is to understand whether anthropogenic modification and introduced species alter the role of evolutionary history in shaping New Zealand's plant communities. At the Zoology Benham Building, 346 Great King Street, behind the Zoology car park by the Captain Cook Hotel. Use the main entrance of the Benham Building to get in and go to the Benham Seminar Room, Rm. 215, 2nd floor. Please be prompt as we have to hold the door open.

Botany Student Colloquium

Friday 9th of October 2015, 10:00 AM (7 years ago)

Contact: Greg Nelson |

Botany students presenting their current research. Guest lecture by Angela J. Brandt. All welcome to attend. Location: Physical Education seminar room 214 (on Union Street)

Field trip to Silverstream

Saturday 3rd of October 2015, 09:00 AM (7 years ago)

Contact: Kate Caldwell | | 027 890 8840

We will begin from the car park at Silverstream Valley Road and take the Racemans track for a short time before turning off on to the McRaes Weir circuit. The track crosses McRaes stream and follows an old water race. We will decide on the day what, if any variations, of this route everyone wants to do. The forest will be damp, shady, and muddy in places, so bring sturdy footwear and warm clothing along with your lunch and a parka. Expected return time between 3.00–4.00 pm.

The discovery of slowness: life in the plant lane. 13th Annual Geoff Baylis Lecture Speaker Professor Steven Higgins

Wednesday 9th of September 2015, 06:00 PM (8 years ago)

Contact: David Lyttle | | (03) 454 5470

Speaker Professor Steven Higgins, Castle 1, University of Otago (drinks and nibbles starting from 5.15 pm in the concourse).


Plants do many fantastic things, but they do them slowly, which make it difficult for us to appreciate them. How then will plants cope with rapid environmental change and our short attention spans?

Plants are reputedly obedient. After all they stand still and wait to be counted. But this apparent obedience masks their power as the true engineers of our planet and their disregard for human beings. It is an open secret that plants made the planet we now find so cosy—they manipulated the atmosphere, created soil and shaped our climate. Plants are of course under appreciated, and for good reason, for unlike competing deities it took plants more than seven days to achieve their wonders. But before the Anthropocene such slowness was not persecuted. Back in deep time, better did not mean faster. In deep time plants were afforded the time to evolve their way out of crises, re-engineering the world as they went. But the rules of the game are changing, our world is faster and the next crisis will not play out on geological time scales. How will plants deal with being forced into the fast lane?

CANCELLED Stevensons Bush Scenic Reserve

Saturday 5th of September 2015, 09:30 AM (8 years ago)

Contact: John Steel | | 021 2133 170

CANCELLED DUE TO IMPENDING BAD WEATHER Probably one of Dunedin's least known and least visited public reserves. This substantial remnant of dry, coastal, native bush with some mature podocarps surrounded by regenerating trees and shrubs forms a large V-shaped gully from McGregors Hill down to St Leonards and is a remnant of the extensive forest that once covered the north harbour hills. Leave the Department of Botany car park at 9.30 a.m. returning early afternoon.

Botanical "Show and Tell" Evening

Wednesday 19th of August 2015, 05:20 PM (8 years ago)

Contact: David Lyttle | | (03) 454 5470

Members are invited to bring items of botanical interest to the monthly meeting and talk about them. Items may be short slide shows, books, photographs, plants or any plant related object that has a story attached. At the Zoology Benham Building, 346 Great King Street, behind the Zoology car park by the Captain Cook Hotel. Use the main entrance of the Benham Building to get in and go to the Benham Seminar Room, Rm. 215, 2nd floor. Please be prompt as we have to hold the door open.

Field trip to Harbour Cone

Saturday 1st of August 2015, 09:00 AM (8 years ago)

Contact: David Lyttle | | (03) 454 5470

Note Change in meeting venue to Portobello.
The Harbour Cone block is a 328 ha block of pastoral land on the Otago Peninsula, purchased in 2008 by the Dunedin City Council to protect landscape, ecological, cultural, historic and recreational values. The area is managed as a farm but contains significant areas of remnant native vegetation with high biodiversity values. Some areas have been retired from grazing and an extensive planting programme has been undertaken to re-establish native forest on erosion prone slopes. Our guide for the day will be Moira Parker who has been involved with the project since its inception. Meet at the Botany carpark at 9.00 am or at Portobello opposite the Pub at 9.30 am. Due to a slip carrying away part of Highcliff Road the site is no longer accessible from that direction. Bring lunch, warm clothing, good footwear and parkas. Finish time about 3.00 pm. Rain day Sunday 2nd August. Contact David Lyttle or Moira Parker 478 0214, mobile 027 328 4443.

Field trip to Bethunes Gully and Mt Cargill

Saturday 4th of July 2015, 09:00 AM (8 years ago)

Contact: David Lyttle | | (03) 454 5470

Mount Cargill is a 676-metre-high volcanic hill dominating North Dunedin. The upper slopes are clothed in regenerating cloud forest and shrubland with their associated communities of bryophytes and lichens. We willstart from Bethunes Gully at the end of Normanby Street. There is a good walking track that initially passes through exotic forest which then gives way to mixed podocarp/broadleaf forest on the mid slopes. This in turn is replaced by low forest containing a variety of species including Griselinia littoralis, Dracophyllum longifolium, Olearia ilicifolia and Coprosma foetidissima on the upper slopes. On the northern side of the ridge is a patch of mature forest with emergent Libocedrus bidwillii. Depending on the weather, as the ridge crest is rather exposed, we will explore these different communities. Another feature of interest is the hexagonal basaltic columns that outcrop below the summit. Meet at the Botany carpark at 9.00 am. Bring lunch, warm clothing, good footwear and parkas. Finish time about 3.00 pm.

Natural History of the North Andean High Mountains: the Most Diverse Alpine Ecosystems on Earth

Wednesday 1st of July 2015, 05:20 PM (8 years ago)

Contact: David Lyttle | | (03) 454 5470

Robert Hofstede—visitor to Botany Department and Consultant to International Organisations in Tropical Nature Conservation and Environmental Policy. The Northern portion of the Andes is characterised by a tropical cool and perhumid climate, a relatively recent geological history and a geographical position at the Northern border of a continent. In this area the páramo biome is found: the natural tussock grass and herb-dominated ecosystem above the natural tree line in Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and northern Peru. It is considered the most species rich alpine vegetation in the world, with a spectacular vegetative structure and an impressive level of endemism for a continental ecosystem (up to 60%). Because of the extreme climatic conditions ("winter every night, summer every day"), many species have developed an impressive set of adaptations converting them into the top-mountaineers of the global flora. These adaptations have resulted in conspicuous growth forms, some of which are shared with the New Zealand flora. Páramo's position in the tropics and connected through mountain chains with temperate areas ensure an interesting phytogeographical diversity: the flora has many elements of both tropical and temperate (holarctic and austral-antarctic) origins. Páramo is connected to the high mountain (cloud) forest through a broad ecotone; both are of key importance for the ecology and society of the Andean countries because they form the sources of, and therefore regulate, all major hydrological systems including part of the Amazon watershed. Their conservation is a major concern because of the pressure that originates from agricultural encroachment and large scale economic development. At the Zoology Benham Building, 346 Great King Street, behind the Zoology car park by the Captain Cook Hotel. Use the main entrance of the Benham Building to get in and go to the Benham Seminar Room, Rm. 215, 2nd floor. Please be prompt as we have to hold the door open.

Lichen Field trip up Leith Saddle Track

Saturday 6th of June 2015, 09:30 AM (8 years ago)

Contact: Allison Knight

The ancient and regenerating mist forest above the top of the Northern Motorway harbours a variety of old growth inner forest lichens. We will concentrate on the large 'leafy' foliose lichens that are so characteristic of New Zealand's rainforest. The Botany Department has kindly allowed us to bring specimens back to the lab to examine identifying and interesting features more closely. Bring hand lens. Meet at the Dept of Botany car park 464 Great King St. Bad weather date Sunday.