Behind the scenes in the botany collection

Behind the scenes in the botany collection

After leaving our bags in safe keeping, in case we brought in any winged beasties that might attack the treasured Te Papa botany collection, we were treated to a fascinating overview of the collection by curator Leon Perrie.

Leon introduced us to the herbarium of some 280,000 dried plant specimens, which is continually expanding with the addition of field-collections by staff and donations from other agencies, and is regularly consulted by researchers studying New Zealand’s botanical biodiversity.  It was good to hear about the high level of co-operation between Te Papa experts and their counterparts in agencies such as Landcare research.

Of particular interest were a 1769 specimen of our iconic silver fern, a collection of black and white engravings produced from the specimens collected by Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander during Captain Cook’s 1769 -71 voyage to the Pacific, and another opportunity to view some of the colour prints comprising the New Zealand component of Banks’ Florilegium, which were purchased by Te Papa in 2011 with the assistance of the Friends of Te Papa gifting programme.

Follow Leon Perrie’s Blog and check out  The Secret life of Ferns online – streaming live on Youtube on 16 May Discover what makes these Kiwi emblems special, and how you can help make scientific discoveries.

Heather Macfarlane