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News & Events, 2013

Native Plant Identification Now a Snap

Tuesday 26th November, 2013

flora_finderOtago Innovation together with the Botany Department, University of Otago and MEA Mobile are delighted to announce the release of Flora Finder – a mobile application for iOS devices where you can instantly identify NZ native plants using the camera on your smart phone (screen shots below). Not only that, but users can build their own collection as they travel around the country. And with the live mapping feature, the app identifies where they’ve been and identified their plant.

We have 87 species in the app at the moment, but even if the app can’t identify a plant, users can attach the photo to an email within the app and it’s sent to the experts in the Botany Department at the University of Otago, where they’ll identify it for you.

One of the key features is that plants are identified by their Māori name first, followed by common and scientific names.

You can view Flora finder on Youtube or the Flora Finder page on an Apple's website.

John Smaillie Tennant Lecture, 9th October

Tuesday 24th September, 2013

Tennant_Lecture_Ross_Bicknell_secondSeeds without sex: Revisiting Mendel’s nemesis

Dr Ross Bicknell, Senior Scientist and Team Leader, Plant and Food Research, Lincoln University.

In the middle of the 1800’s Gregor Mendel was unraveling the mystery of genetic inheritance. His experiments on the garden pea are now well known and he is rightly cited as the father of modern genetics. Carl Nägeli, a leading Swiss botanist of the day, appears to have suggested that Mendel use another species to confirm the universality of his findings. The plant he suggested was Hieracium, a genus of daisies common throughout Europe.

What neither Nägeli nor Mendel could have known is that Hieracium forms seeds without sex (apomixis). Try as he might, Mendel could never get this plant to act like pea! This lecture will follow Mendel’s efforts, then explore our current understanding of the reproductive uniqueness of Hieracium. In a grand irony, Mendel’s nemesis has become a model for a process that specifically departs from the normal pattern of inheritance.

Date Wednesday, 9 September 2013
Time 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Location Archway 1 Lecture Theatre
Audience Public
Cost Free
Contact Email

Student Summer Bursaries

Monday 16th September, 2013

There will be two Department of Botany and two Landcare Research based Student Summer Bursaries available in 2013/14.

These Bursaries give support for research projects involving an academic staff member and a student intending to enrol in the following year. The research project can readily lead to avenues for thesis research and it is also a very good way to gain practical experience in botany.

$4,000 (tax free) for 10 weeks over summer commencing 11 November 2013 with the latest finishing date being 21 February 2014.

To apply, please complete the application form and submit it in person to the Botany Administration Office, at 479 Great King Street. 

Closing Date
Please submit Applications to the Botany Administration Office on or before the 11th of October 2013.

For more information, please contact us at

A Big Congratulations to Audrey Eagle

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Audrey, a renowned botanical illustrator known for her work Eagle’s Complete Trees and Shrubs of New Zealand, received an honorary doctorate from the University of Otago.
We were lucky enough to have Audrey visit the department for morning tea, held in her honour.

It was an important event for the department as well. Audrey’s doctorate is the first time an honorary degree has been awarded to someone associated with the department.

More information about Audrey’s doctorate can be found on the University Otago's website, and at the Otago Daily Times website.

From left: David Lyttle (Botanical Society of Otago's president), Sir Alan Mark, Audrey Eagle, and Kath Dickinson, Head of Department.


Audrey after receiving her doctorate.

Professor Lesley Hughes' talk Southern Hemisphere biodiversity in a changing climate: 2050 & beyond available online

As part of the 2013 Southern Connection Congress, Professor Lesley Hughes gave a public lecture on the 23rd of January 2013.

Professor Hughes is an ecologist in the Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University who researches the impacts of climate change on species and ecosystems. She is a lead author on the IPCC fourth and fifth assessment reports, a member of the Australian Government’s Land Sector Carbon & Biodiversity Board and commissioner on the federal Climate Commission

Leslie's talk is available online.