Australasian Plant Conservation
Originally published in Australasian Plant Conservation 18(2) Setember - November 2009, p 27
Australian Plant Census: August 2009 update
Brendan Lepschi and Anna Monro
Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Canberra, ACT. Email: Brendan.Lepschi@csiro.au and Anna.Monro@csiro.au
The Australian Plant Census is a project
aimed at providing an up-to-date list of currently accepted names for the
Australian vascular flora, both native and introduced (see Australasian
Plant Conservation 16(1): 20).
New families treated
Progress on the project has continued, with
a number of additional families now treated, including the large and diverse
Rutaceae. Many of the genera in this family have been the subject of recent
taxonomic work, often with significant taxonomic and nomenclatural changes as a
result. For example, three revisionary treatments have been published for Zieria since 2002, with numerous new taxa and name changes.
Myriad informal names have been applied to Zieria species over decades, with phrase names coined for species A–Q and 1–15.
However, the same phrase name was often used for different entities in
different states or regions. For example, ‘Zieria species 1’ referred to three taxa: Z. verrucosa in Queensland, Z. baeuerlenii in New South Wales and Z. oreocaena in Victoria. The Census provides a
single data source covering all the changes and new information for this
Another important group recently treated is
the Amaranthaceae, in particular Ptilotus. Existing Ptilotus taxonomy, based on the work of Gerhard Benl, was
characterised by numerous infraspecific taxa
(i.e. subspecies, varieties and forms) often at multiple ranks within a
species. Recent revisions by Australian workers have greatly simplified the
taxonomy of the genus, with, in some cases, up to eight infraspecific names
being subsumed into a single species.
The non-eucalyptoid Myrtaceae are also
currently being treated for the Census with numerous generic realignments
reflected, such as the much reduced circumscription of Babingtonia,
and the recognition of new genera, including Kardomia and Sannantha. Also reflected is the considerable
activity of Western Australian botanists on Baeckea and its relatives, with numerous new and resurrected species and genera in this
The Poaceae is also nearing completion. Some
large and important genera have been treated, including Aristida, Austrodanthonia and its allies, Austrostipa, Poa and Triodia, as well as
numerous weedy genera such as Avena, Bromus and Vulpia.
Reconciling names in northern Australia
The Census was bolstered by a recent grant
from the Heritage Division of the Department of the Environment, Water,
Heritage and the Arts, aimed at reconciling taxonomic and nomenclatural issues
for various taxa in conservation reserves across northern Australia. Families of particular interest to the Department included the Euphorbiaceae and
Lentibulariaceae. While the Lentibulariaceae (comprising only the Bladderwort
genus Utricularia) was relatively straightforward, the
euphorbs have proved quite the opposite. We have nearly completed compilation
of the Euphorbiaceae, which will include such widespread genera as Bertya, Beyeria, Chamaesyce, Euphorbia, Phyllanthus, Ricinocarpos and Sauropus.
Another component to the Census project is
the ‘Family Planning’ exercise, covering development of an agreed list and
arrangement of taxa at the family level and above. This project commenced in
mid-2008, with Terri Weese compiling agreed family circumscriptions for all
flowering plants and gymnosperms. Meredith Cosgrove has recently taken over the
Family Planning role, following Terri’s move to another position within CSIRO,
and has compiled family circumscriptions for the pteridophytes (ferns) and
their allies. Meredith is also developing a full classification from Kingdom to
Family level, including all relevant intermediate ranks.
Where to get the latest information
Of the groups mentioned above, data for the
Amaranthaceae, Lentibulariaceae, Rutaceae and part of the Poaceae (tribes
Arundineae, Amphipogoneae, Danthonieae, Aristideae, Eriachneae, Pappophoreae,
Triodieae and Cynodonteae) are available via the Australian Plant Census search
interface at www.anbg.gov.au/chah/apc/index.html.
Non-eucalyptoid Myrtaceae and Poaceae tribes
Phareae, Nardeae, Stipeae, Meliceae, Brachypodieae, Bromeae, Triticeae,
Aveneae, Poeae, Bambuseae, Oryzeae and Ehrharteae are available as PDFs at
A full listing of all other families and groups
treated for the Census is available at
www.anbg.gov.au/chah/apc/index.html. For other groups (e.g.
Euphorbiaceae and the remaining tribes of Poaceae), including higher-level
classification, data is not yet available electronically. The list of families
treated for the Census (see link above) is updated regularly and these groups
will be added as soon as the data is uploaded—keep checking for progress.
As always, the Australian Plant Census team
welcomes feedback, queries and comments—you can contact us at
Brendan.Lepschi@csiro.au and Anna.Monro@csiro.au.