On Wednesday I came with quite a different group, members of the Forest and Bird Wellington Regional Tramping group. While the group is normally keen to move at a good pace they don't usually run helter-skelter! This time though we were all prepared to go very slowly, stopping and starting as volunteer guides from the Otari-Wilton's Bush Trust led us through the plant collections, showing us things to look for to help us with plant identification.
Our group started off in the fernery where we looked at the patterns of the sori (where the spores are) on the back of fronds, and quickly learned to identify ferns in the Blechnum genus from the very different looking fertile fronds and that the sori of Asplenium ferns were in stripes.
|Silver fern - Cyathea dealbata|
|Shining spleenwort - Asplenium oblongifolium|
In the afternoon we headed down the Nature Trail and on to the beech grove where we spent some time identifying beeches. Some tips I picked up - silver beech has small toothed leaves, red beech leaves are large, toothed and with only 3-4 veins on each side of the main vein, hard beech leaves are also large but with 5-7 veins. Having all of the beeches together in one place was a real bonus and a great way to build our knowledge. I hadn't picked up that the scientific name for beeches had changed recently and are no longer Nothofagus but either Fuscospora or Lophozonia! Check out Rob Suisted's Naturespic blog for more on this. So while we discussed the fact that English common names and Maori names can be confusing because they are sometimes applied to more than one plant, changing the scientific name doesn't help us beginners either!
Otari-Wilton's Bush has guided walks open to the public, usually on Sundays, check the Wellington City Council Events Calendar.
Tramps and walks run by the Forest and Bird Wellington Regional Tramping Group are open to all Forest and Bird members.
Ideas for Kids and Families
- Pick up a pamphlet about the Nature Trail at the Information Centre near the Main Entrance at Otari-Wilton's Bush.
- Stop at the numbered posts and look around you, read the pamphlet for some tips of what to look at.
- Take a magnifying glass, this is a great way to look closely at ferns, flowers and leaves.
Thanks to David McCrone for the photos.