If you've been paying attention, and I'm sure you have, you'll notice I haven't posted the Great Veronica Hunt part 4, but that's what I should have called this post a couple of weeks ago. So, skipping part 4, here's part 5.
In part 1, I described trying to find Veronica peregrina last year. That was frustrating, because although I had a very accurate description of the location and the habitat, I was there too late in the season. To make it worse, the original collector—Whanganui botanist Colin Ogle— hadn't seen it there for a few years and doubted it would still be present. Still, Colin had told me last autumn of a site for another species I need to photograph, V. chamaedrys, so yesterday I went after them both.
|Veronica peregrina plants, Kakariki.|
V. peregrina plants are bright green and either have no hairs or very few long glandular ones. Their flowers are pure white, an unusual colour for a northern hemisphere Veronica (most are blue), but a common colour among our native species (only a few of which are blue).
While at Kakariki, I'd promised a colleague I'd look for spore-bearing cones on Equisetum arvense, which is naturalised along the banks of the Rangitikei River. I'd seen it there in abundance last trip, so I confidently went down to the river. However the river banks have been extensively sprayed, and, while it hasn't completely cleared the infestation, it's knocked it back pretty severely. Eventually I managed to find a single cone, and took photographs and a specimen.
Equisetum (horsetail) is an odd plant, now known to belong among the ferns. The cones produce not seeds, but spores (pine cones produce spores too: male cones make male spores that develop into multicellular pollen grains before they're dispersed, and in the familiar female cones the spores are retained, develop there, and after fertilisation each develops into parts of a seed). Horsetail spores are formed in cylindrical sporangia underneath the hexagonal umbrella-like scales on the cone, which spread apart to release them.
|Equisetum arvense, spore-bearing cone.|
|Veronica chamaedrys, St. Léon sur Vézère, Dordogne, France.|
|Veronica chamaedrys at the edge of the clearing|