Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria
Born in Atherton in 1939
An orchid perspective
Together with the Reverend Ron Collins (1918-1989) Bruce Gray developed a passion for the orchids of north Queensland and set themselves the task of finding all the orchids in Alick Dockrill's Checlist of the Orchidaceous Plants of North Queensland which had been published in 1966. They became established as the local experts on the orchids of the north and acted as guides to numberous visiting botanists.
Bruce established himself as a botanist, publishing descriptions of new species and being employed botanical collector the Atherton Forest Research Institute of CSIRO. His name the of 19 species, most of which were jointly described with author David L. Jones, a botanist from Canberra. In nearly all cases, Gray was the original collector The list includes Bulbophyllum lewisense, B. wolfei. B. boonee, B. grandimesense B windsorense, Dendrobium callitrophyllum, Liparis collinsii. Nervilia peltata, Pterostylis aguilonia and Corybas cerasinus. In 1975 Bruce Gray and Ron Collins discovered a species of Calochilus at Chewko, west of Mareeba. Len Lawler collected a specimen in 1991 and this became the type when it was described as C. ammobius by David Jones and Bruce Gray in 2002. The locality is now a sugar cane farm and the species could be extinct.
Gray's job involved collecting botanical specimens of rainforest trees for the CSIRO botanist Dr Bernie Hyland. The technique used was to shoot a lead sinker with a line attached from a catapult over a branch which was then pulled down. In doing this Bruce occasionally found small orchids in the genera Taemophyllum and Bulbophyllum which were twig epiphytes and therefore not usually seen. Vrydagzynea grayi, Cadetia collinsii and Liparis collinsii have been named in honour of these two orchid enthusiasts.
Bruce Gray was the first collector or was involved in the first collection of 23 species, second only to John Dallachy who was the first collector of 35 species.
Source: Extracted from: Laverack, Bill (2013) 'With Strange Device: A history of the discovery of Tropical Australia's Orchids', (Australian Orchid Foundation), Peter S. Laverack, Buderim, Qld
Portrait Photo: from: M.Fagg collection