Megaherbs! - Observation of the Week, 1/24/23

Our Observation of the Week is this group of Campbell Island Daisies (Pleurophyllum speciosum), seen in New Zealand by @genevieveearly!

Genevieve Early’s parents both have a scientific background and her father was an entomologist, so she tells me “I have always been encouraged to be curious and observant in nature.” She’s recently gotten into nature photography, particularly macro photography, and after having returned to university as an adult is “currently a postgraduate research student studying the effect of a native New Zealand fungus on invasive pines.”

Last year she earned a scholarship to travel on the Heritage Adventurer, “travelling around New Zealand's subantarctic islands and the Fiordland area. I was most excited to see the unique megaherbs on Campbell, Auckland and the Snares Islands, of which Pleurophyllum speciosum is my favourite example.”

Megaherbs (what a great name) are large, herbaceous plants with showy flowers that evolved in subantarctic islands. Potentially a form of island gigantism, these plants are an amazing sight, according to Genevieve.

Megaherbs form beautiful meadows of large and often colourful flowers on these cold and windy islands. The floral displays look more like something I would associate with tropical flora - almost jarring to see against the subantarctic backgrounds of tussock, cliffs and windswept forest or shrubland. Seeing the large Southern Royal Albatross nesting amongst the flowering megaherbs [above] was a highlight of the trip for me.

On the Auckland Islands and Campbell Island, megaherbs were threatened by overgrazing of animals introduced in the 1800s (sheep, pigs, cattle and rabbits) but the populations are bouncing back after these animals (except for pigs on Auckland Island) have been removed.

Genevieve (above) has been an iNat user since 2019 and used to post observations periodically and create distribution maps for her university work. Last year, though, she stepped up her iNat game.

In 2022 I set myself a challenge to get to 1000 unique species observed before the end of the year (which I narrowly missed, by not having an internet connection to upload while I was in the subantarctics!). Challenging myself to do this has changed how I view nature around me - I am both more appreciative of native/endemic species variety and habitats I encounter, and I am also more aware of common weeds and invasive animals as I now notice their impact and abundance. Using iNaturalist has made me much more clued up about the world around me and more likely to notice species I would otherwise have missed, as I learn to recognise and identify what is around me in different habitats I go to.

(Photo of Genevieve by R. Eastmann-Densem - @robbed)

- Pleurophyllum speciosum appears on the back of the $5 New Zealand banknote.

- Check out all of the observations of Pleurophyllum on iNat!

- Here’s an older video about Campbell Island/Motu Ihupuku that includes an interview with botanist Lorna Little about the island’s megaherbs.

Publicado por tiwane tiwane, 24 de enero de 2023


Terrific photos!

Publicado por thibaudaronson hace 13 días (Marca)

Fabulous plants!

Publicado por susanhewitt hace 13 días (Marca)

Impressive to identify 1000 species in just one year!
Also, beautiful pictures! I was not familiar with the concept of megaherbs. Very interesting!

Publicado por lisa_petersson hace 13 días (Marca)


Publicado por catullus hace 13 días (Marca)


Publicado por vireyajacquard hace 13 días (Marca)

Love the albatross for scale! Great captures and thanks for sharing!

Publicado por featherenthusiast hace 13 días (Marca)

omg Genevieve is so cool!!

Publicado por diegoalmendras hace 13 días (Marca)

Amazing sight indeed...:)
Great observation!

Publicado por derrell_d hace 13 días (Marca)

Wow, I had never heard of these...very cool!

Publicado por cthawley hace 13 días (Marca)

Edited and included a link to the nice Wikipedia article about megaherbs. iNat NZ's own @meurkc is a co-author of one of the sources cited on Wikipedia.

Publicado por tiwane hace 13 días (Marca)

Great observation!

Publicado por ramzk hace 13 días (Marca)

I love the shot with the ... albatross, I think?

Publicado por garyyankech hace 12 días (Marca)


Publicado por cesarcastillo hace 12 días (Marca)

Great OotW. Megaherbs are so cool!

Publicado por tadamcochran hace 12 días (Marca)


Publicado por observerjosh hace 12 días (Marca)


Publicado por pandiantensingh hace 12 días (Marca)


Publicado por atinaudkm hace 12 días (Marca)

Very interesting. Thank you for sharing!

Publicado por chuckt2007 hace 11 días (Marca)

One of my bucket list places to go. Those oversized herbs are awesome

Publicado por rayray hace 11 días (Marca)


Publicado por roman_romanov hace 11 días (Marca)

I went down there with Heritage Expeditions about 12 years ago and it is just incredible! Insane plants, sea lions, penguins, albatross and so much more. 10/10, would go again! So glad you got to go down there and appreciate it, Genevieve! Looking forward to seeing more of your observations this year.

Publicado por lisa_bennett hace 11 días (Marca)


Publicado por gcwarbler hace 3 días (Marca)

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