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Author Topic: Extreme Botanical Photography  (Read 4767 times)

David Lyttle

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Extreme Botanical Photography
« on: March 17, 2021, 09:01:57 AM »
Greetings to all my Forum friends. I hope the new year is treating you kindly and with the approach spring in the Northern Hemisphere you will experience the lift in spirits that that season brings.

I was fortunate again this year to join my  botanist friends Heidi Meudt and Ant Kusabs from Te Papa for a weeks field work in Central Otago. Heidi is engaged in an ongoing project on the genus Myosotis  in New Zealand and Ant is  collecting specimens for the Te Papa Herbarium. We were based in Wanaka and were joined by other botanists at different times during the course of the field work. This is the third time I have participated in one of the Te Papa field trips. I have been able to go to places I would otherwise have not been able to get to and have learnt a lot in the course of the work. Heidi has completed a pretty impressive body of taxonomic research; Ourisia, Chionohebe (Veronica), Plantago and is now engaged on Myosotis work which will be completed in the near future.

Alpine field work in Otago is very dependent on the weather and just because it is summer does not mean that the weather is settled so on Jan 20th I set off for Wanaka. I had intended to go the previous week but it had snowed and a group of 4WD people had got into difficulties on the Old Man Range which was where I had intended going. Moral of the story is to check the weather forecast.
First photo is a view of Mt St Bathans looking across the upper Maniototo on the drive to Wanaka. There a good dusting of snow on the crest (2000 m). The countryside is green and lush due to a what was euphemistically called a rain event at New Year. I was there at the time but that's another story.



Sometimes we get to fly in helicopters so we were scheduled to go to End Peak in the Harris Mountains on the 21st. Its a short flight from the base at the bottom almost directly to our field site. Heidi was planning to survey the population of Myosotis glabrescens that she had seen in 2020 and collect samples for genetic analysis When we landed this is what we saw and it was still snowing. We had taken up a bag with tents sleeping bags and stoves which we left at our landing site on a little saddle above the lake in case the helicopter was not able to return to pick us up later in the day.

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There were a few plants sticking up out of the snow but at that stage the day did not look very promising.

Dracophyllum muscoides


Veronica hectorii subsp hectorii
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Ant and Heidi got to work making a collection of Aciphylla kirkii. It was still snowing and we were thinking we might not last to pick up time at 4.30 pm


I had not taken my dSLR out of my pack and was using my cell phone to take  the pictures. I had bought a new phone to install the COVID tracing app so I got one with a good camera. It proved to be quite handy to take photos in situations where you could not use a dSLR but does have it limitations.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2021, 02:12:30 PM by Maggi Young »
David Lyttle
Otago Peninsula, Dunedin, South Island ,
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David Lyttle

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Re: Extreme Botanical Photography
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2021, 09:27:45 AM »
As the day progressed the snow melted a bit so we headed for the open ground. The snow clears first from the most exposed sites which is where you find the cushion field. I had got the camera out at this stage. It was not exactly snowing; just little chunks of ice which stayed frozen



Aciphylla montana emerging from the snow (taken with phone)



Celmisia lyallii (taken with phone)



Lunch stop was above the lake. The Lake is called Dead Horse Lake and is at 1800 m. It is associated with an alpine patterned wetland which is the study site for an MSc student from University of Otago Botany Department. She usually walks up to the site.



Aciphylla kirkii dSLR photo this time - you can see the difference

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« Last Edit: March 17, 2021, 09:30:17 AM by David Lyttle »
David Lyttle
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David Lyttle

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Re: Extreme Botanical Photography
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2021, 09:48:17 AM »
The snow had more or less gone from the cushionfield by early afternoon so I was able to photograph a number of plants. Most were alpine cushion species that are common throughout Central Otago.

Anisotome imbricata var imbricata




Chionohebe thomsonii


Colobanthus buchananii


A lichen, Leconora epibryon subsp broccha Lichens make good photographic subjects but I tend not to photograph them as I cannot identify them readily. I don't know if this species is found in the Northern Hemisphere but there are a number of alpine lichen species that have a worldwide distribution.
David Lyttle
Otago Peninsula, Dunedin, South Island ,
New Zealand.

David Lyttle

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Re: Extreme Botanical Photography
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2021, 10:21:09 AM »
It was becoming difficult to find interesting photographic subjects but Ant was still finding plants to collect - the alpines are still a bit of a novelty for him.

Dracophyllum muscoides, a ubiquitous Centrel Otago high alpine species that dominates the exposed cushionfields


Hectorella caespitosa (with Chionohebe thomsonii) Hectorella is a monotypic genus confined to New Zealand. It closest relation is Lyallia  from Kerguelen Island. It is postulated that both genera are outliers of an Antarctic flora that no longer exists.


Hectorella again with Veronica densifolia (Hebejeebie densifolia) between the two cushions


Pachycladon novae-zelandiae The plant is growing on ground that is devoid of any other cover other than lichens. It has a very deep tap root that goes down between the stones.


Phyllachne rubra. I had not appreciated before this summer that this is a snowbank species. Mostly I see it when the snow has totally disappeared.
 
David Lyttle
Otago Peninsula, Dunedin, South Island ,
New Zealand.

Hoy

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Re: Extreme Botanical Photography
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2021, 09:51:01 PM »
Very nice!

I love snow (sometimes) but not when I am out looking for plants in the mountains!

....

A lichen, Leconora epibryon subsp broccha Lichens make good photographic subjects but I tend not to photograph them as I cannot identify them readily. I don't know if this species is found in the Northern Hemisphere but there are a number of alpine lichen species that have a worldwide distribution.


Lecanora epibryon is common in Norway (I don't know the subspecies).
Trond Hoy, gardening on the rainy west coast of Norway.

Gabriela

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Re: Extreme Botanical Photography
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2021, 12:07:48 AM »
Wow! extreme indeed David, and extremely beautiful :)
Gabriela
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Re: Extreme Botanical Photography
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2021, 08:25:57 AM »
Phyllachne rubra is one of my absolute favourites... fantastically beautiful.

David Lyttle

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Re: Extreme Botanical Photography
« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2021, 08:32:20 AM »
Lecanora epibryon is common in Norway (I don't know the subspecies).

Hi Trond, Gabriela
Thank you for your kind comments.

Subspecies broccha of Lecanora epibryon is Southern Hemisphere in distribution. It grows on the base of dead tussocks. This is different from the species which is not listed for New Zealand.

The snow was continuing to melt as the day warmed up so more plants were appearing. The snow and the chilling had damaged any flowers that were present as this specimen of Gentianella divisa shows.

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The flower on this Ourisia glandulosa had survived as well.


There were three species of Raoulia all alpine specialists;

Raoulia hectorii var hectorii found on exposed cushion field


Raoulia youngii which is a high alpine species usually more commonly found in fellfield


and for comparison Raoulia grandiflora (left) and Raoulia youngii (right)

David Lyttle
Otago Peninsula, Dunedin, South Island ,
New Zealand.

David Lyttle

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Re: Extreme Botanical Photography
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2021, 09:00:38 AM »
Phyllachne rubra is one of my absolute favourites... fantastically beautiful.

Hello Thomas,
I agree it is a beautiful plant. It is not nearly as common as Phyllachne colensoi and very much more specialised in its habitat preferences. It is very hard to walk past a plant in flower and not photograph it!

By mid afternoon the snow had melted sufficiently that we were able to get access to a steep rubble fan with a creek running through it  that had a more diverse array of alpines (or more that we could find)

Coprosma niphophila fruiting


and in the lea of a rock the plant in flower. This plant is a the male as shown by the flowers.


Celmisia angustifolia tucked away in a boulder pile with flowers


and details of the foliage
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and something you do not want to grow in your rock garden, Epilobium tasmanicum



David Lyttle
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Re: Extreme Botanical Photography
« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2021, 09:39:13 AM »
We then started to find some interesting things; Hebe petriei which is found on the higher mountains in the western part of Otago. This is not a particularly good example as I saw some truly stunning plants three days later.


and a rather sad looking flowering branch
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Then we found what we came to see Myosotis glabrescens. Heidi had planned to do a census of the population and collect samples for genetic analysis but most of the area where they are growing was still under snow and we saw only 2-3 plants.






Up until recently Myosotis glabrescens was known only from one site and a few gatherings made in the Hector Range where it has not relocated. It is now known from two additional sites and is likely to be more widely distributed in Western Otago. Under the New Zealand threat classification system it is classified as data deficient. This comment appears on the NZPCN website "Strangely, this plant may be better known in Scotland where it is grown by alpine enthusiasts (see: http://www.srgc.org.uk/smf/index.php?topic=3383.30)"  As a result of Heidi's research and field work, we now know this to be incorrect. The plant that is in the nursery trade in the UK and sold as Myosotis pulvinaris is not Myosotis glabrescens but is most probably Myosotis retrorsa.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2021, 09:41:55 AM by David Lyttle »
David Lyttle
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Re: Extreme Botanical Photography
« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2021, 08:56:36 AM »
The find of the day was this Parahebe (Veronica) planopetiolata. Heidi took a photo of it with her phone, sent it to a colleague who happened to be in Auckland and received the confirmation of the ID all while we were still on the mountain. For a late adopter of the technology I was reasonably impressed. It is a high alpine plant found in the western part of the lower South Island


More common and with a wider distribution Leptinella pectinata subsp. willcoxii


A Pimelea that had me puzzled for a while. I identified as Pimelea oreophila subsp lepta. It is a lot hairer than is usual for this subspecies
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In this last image you can see the little particles of ice amongst the vegetation. It was still snowing intermittently.
David Lyttle
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Re: Extreme Botanical Photography
« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2021, 10:10:01 AM »
At 4.30 it was time to go home. While waiting for the helicopter I took a picture of the little tarn that you can see in the fist picture in this post. The snow had cleared to some degree but there was still a lot around.


We got all our gear packed up and secure; you cant have any loose items because the would get picked up and blown about by the rotor wash. The Squirrel helicopter they were using is quite a large machine and can carry 5 passengers + gear. Everything gets weighed beforehand though you might need to leave someone behind if the weight limit is exceeded. I was given the front seat next to the pilot on the homeward trip. There is a window right beneath your feet so you see pretty much everything. If you are sitting in the middle in the back you don't see much at all.

Just after takeoff
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Dead Horse Lake


Helicopter banking with the moraine impounding the lake below
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Aerial view of Lake Wanaka with Motatapu River directly below.  The Matukituki River is coming in from the left behind the low glacier-planed hill and out to its delta on the lake edge. The town of Wanaka is out of sight on the right.
682933-4

It had proved to have been a rather arduous day. It was quite cold and not easy to move around especially where the snow had covered the tussocks. Apart from not being able to complete a population census of the Myosotis glabrescens we had a productive day and made some good collections.  I was happy to have photographed Myosotis glabrescens and Parahebe planopetiolata neither of which I had seen before.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
« Last Edit: March 19, 2021, 10:12:55 AM by David Lyttle »
David Lyttle
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ruweiss

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Re: Extreme Botanical Photography
« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2021, 08:49:04 PM »
David, thank you so much for your fantastic pictures. Nurseryman Gerd Stopp offers Myosotis glabrescens
since many years, in former years as Myosotis spec. EyreMts. I am sorry,that this beauty does not like the
conditions in my hot garden.
Rudi Weiss,Waiblingen,southern Germany,
climate zone 8a,elevation 250 m

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Re: Extreme Botanical Photography
« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2021, 12:48:18 AM »
David fantastic pictures of plants from nature!!
Saskatoon,Canada
-35C to +30C

David Lyttle

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Re: Extreme Botanical Photography
« Reply #14 on: March 20, 2021, 10:11:38 AM »
Hi Rudi,
I am pleased you enjoyed the pictures - there are more to come. The Myosotis spec. Eyre Mts is almost certainly Myosotis retrorsa, a species first described in 2018. I can give the reference if anyone is interested. There are no records of M. glabrescens from the Eyre Mts. We did not find any in 2019 but we found plenty of M. retrorsa.

Here is a photo of M. retrorsa from the Eyre Mts not a very good one but you can see the loose cushion growth form.


and a better one from Fiordland where it seems to be quite common. Note multiple flowers (3) in cluster at top of cushion. Flowers of M. pulvinaris are always single.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2021, 10:22:30 AM by David Lyttle »
David Lyttle
Otago Peninsula, Dunedin, South Island ,
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