Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria
Brenda Hammersley was born at Birchip in Western Victoria on 1 August 1929. She died in February 2004
She went to boarding school in Melbourne, and later studied Medicine at Melbourne University, and later worked in England and New Guinea before becoming Paediatrician (School Doctor) for the Education Department for the south-west region of Western Australia. She began her botanical interests at Mount Lindesay and Little Lindesay area, but her first official botanical work was in the William Bay National Park, for which she began a flora list and mini herbarium of pressed plants in 1989, sending voucher specimens to the Western Australian Herbarium. She increased the scope of her collecting until it included the whole of Denmark Shire, and worked for many years at the Regional Herbarium in Albany. One of her mini herbaria has been in general use for some years at the Denmark Environment Centre.
In the late 1990s when she sent mosses to the National Herbarium of NSW her involvement with Australian and New Zealand bryologists commenced in earnest. In a few short years, she became expert in the identification of bryophytes and corresponded regularly with Helen Ramsay, Alison Downing and Judith Curnow. In 2000, Brenda was the guest of Pina Milne and Karen Beckman at the National Herbarium of Victoria. At the 2001 Australasian Bryological Workshop, Brenda contributed a paper on her discovery of the rare Western Australian moss, Pleurophascum occidentale. Brenda also sought and located Sphagnum novozelandicum which many thought no longer survived in Western Australia. Later, encouraged by her eastern Australian colleagues, Brenda established friendships with bryologists further afield, including Jessica Beever in Auckland and Alan Fife in Christchurch. Her work with previously unidentified bryophytes in the Western Australian Herbarium was prodigious.
For the 13 years before her death, Brenda was on the committee of the Department of Conservation and Land Management's Rare Flora Recovery Team. Two plants were named after her: Andersonia hammersleyana and Laxmannia grandiflora subsp. brendae, both of which are endemic to Mount Lindesay.
Brenda died in February 2004.
Source: pers comm. Alison Downing, Pina Milne
and Karen Beckman