Issue 36: June 2001



News from the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Australian National Herbarium (CANB), for the information of CPBR and ANBG staff and volunteers.


CPBR News is produced monthly. If you wish to contribute, please email your suggestions to Val Oliver, the coordinator.


Val Oliver: ph (02) 6246 5533; fax (02) 6246 5249; email:



Farewells 1. Herbarium

Vascular Collections

The looming AVH has been the main issue occupying staff in Programs C and D over the past few weeks, as well as some re-adjusting and re-shuffling while people settle into their temporary (acting) roles following the departure of Bob Makinson. One of the first tasks I have started on in my present position is assessing the state of various "orphan collections" scattered around the main Centre building. These are collections that, for various reasons, have been donated to CANB (or simply left here after people have moved on), and have languished unappreciated and unloved for far too long.

A quick inventory with Jo Palmer has revealed many hundreds of boxes and pigeonholes of specimens that need to be incorporated into the collection. Some of these require relatively little work, and should be able to be processed fairly rapidly, while others need further attention and could benefit from Intern assistance. The backlog of these collections can't be cleared overnight, but at least we now know where we stand, and we can make a start on getting the material into the herbarium where it can be used. If you know of any other unclaimed collections hiding anywhere in the building, let either Jo or myself know, and we'll see what we can do.

Curation of existing material has also been progressing apace, with good headway made in the Pteridophytes, Apocynaceae, Caesalpiniaceae, Capparaceae, Cyperaceae, Goodeniaceae, Myoporaceae, Passifloraceae and Restionaceae.  Expect more of the same as the AVH draws nearer!

[Brendan Lepschi]


Palms all mounted!

There are several conferences coming up which often means that there are many visitors to the herbarium collection. This is a good opportunity to have backlog specimens mounted and incorporated so that visiting taxonomists can check identifications. Without the fantastic efforts of the volunteers one such backlog would still be sitting in newspapers. Thank you very much to all the volunteers who have wrestled with mounting c. 30 boxes of palms over the last little while. I think they may have been worse than the ferns, especially those prickly Calamus!  Many of the palm collections involved two or more sheets, some up to six, and most required sewing.  The resulting handiwork is just beautiful. Thank you all again, your hard work is much appreciated. Our palm visitors will be kept very busy indeed!

[Jo Palmer]


Loans Assistant

Ann Langston is back on deck for 10 hours per week for the next year, backfilling the hours depleted in Loans while Helen and Ros are working with Jim Croft putting the fern treatment of the Flora of Australia on the web.

[Helen Hadobas]


2. Research Groups

Collecting trip to North Queensland

I returned from a collecting trip to North Queensland with 4 other bryologists: Dr Tamas Pocs and his wife Saci from Hungary, Dr Elizabeth Brown from Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney and Andi Cairns from James Cook University, Townsville.

We began from the Atherton Tablelands where we were kindly loaned the CSIRO PI 4WD for our trip making our way as far south as Paluma. We collected in the Hugh Nelson Range, Mt Lewis, Mt Bellenden Ker, Tchupala Falls, the Kirrama Range, and at Paluma in Birthday creek and at Birthday Falls. New records of leafy liverworts were found by both Tamas Pocs and Elizabeth Brown and I was able to collect 4 genera within the hornworts including a possible new species within the genus Megaceros for my own study as well as numerous other liverworts, lichens and mosses.

While at Paluma we were very lucky to be able to use the James Cook University Tropical Biology Laboratory and accommodation without any costs incurred.

I would like to thank Andi Cairns who organised the permits (which are not easy in Queensland) and our itinerary and the use or her house at Paluma. I would also like to thank Chris Margules, Bernie Hyland and Bruce Gray for their help, a tour of the herbarium and the loan of the vehicle.

[Christine Cargill]




3. Information Technology and Data Management


ABRS anticipates that the two Flora of Australia volumes on Acacia and the complementary interactive key WATTLE will be published in time to be on display at the 4th International Legume Conference on 2-7 July. CSIRO Publishing will have a stand at the conference and hope to have at least sample copies of the books available for inspection.  We hope that copies will also be available for direct sale.  At the very least, CSIRO Publishing will be taking orders for delivery immediately after the conference. Bruce Maslin will be demonstrating WATTLE, and it should be possible to have a trial play with this excellent identification tool.

ABRS is delighted (and relieved) to finally come to the end of this major project.  Acacia is far and away the largest Australian genus of flowering plants, and is of course of enormous iconic, economic and sentimental interest to Australians.  The work being presented here represents an enormous investment of money and time, not only by ABRS, but by virtually all major Australian herbaria and a large number of individuals.  Every effort has been made to ensure that the information included is of the highest reliability.  Inevitably, given that most taxonomists are workaholics, additional species will be described, but these three works will remain for some considerable time as the benchmark for Acacia in Australia.

All products are available from CSIRO Publishing.  The books will be sold as a boxed set for A$195 (hardcovers) and A$145 (softcovers).  The WATTLE CD will cost A$110. Freight is extra.  See the CSIRO Publishing website at for details.

[Tony Orchard]


4. Education and Communication

News from the ANBG Library

Celia Rosser and Alex George visited the library on Friday 15th June and signed our copy of volume 3 of "The Banksias". This makes the ANBG set of this work unique as it is the only one which has each volume inscribed by both the author and the illustrator. "The Banksias" is the high quality publication of the Banksias Project, commissioned by Monash University. The project took over 25 years to complete - numerous field trips were required to collect fresh specimens for Celia to illustrate in watercolour all 76 named and described species of Banksia.   Our set of "The Banksias" is stored in a purpose built unit in the Rare Book Room of the ANBG Library and is displayed to groups and individuals from time to time. We also have copies of the two catalogues describing the Banksias Project available for loan. They contain a nice reproductions of many of the illustrations. Make sure you visit the National Library before 5th August to see the original watercolours which were used in the publication. This is the first time Celia Rosser's watercolours have been displayed together and it is certainly an impressive exhibition.

[Catherine Jordan]

ANBG Librarian


  1. General Centre Matters


A quick note to all and sundry to let you know I have been offered and accepted a job in Melbourne, so will be leaving the Herbarium. My last day was Friday 29th June, 2001. For those who I do not manage to contact, g'bye!

My new job is with a private company based in North Melbourne, and I will be writing User/Procedures Manuals and training people on Oracle databases! I'm pretty excited about the job and the opportunities offered.

I am going to miss everyone here, it's been a great 6 (about!) years working within most areas of the gardens and doing heaps of different things. Thanks to all for your help and friendship.

[Julie Paul]


6. Other News


As part of the Centenary of the Public Service celebrations:

Murray Fagg got a gold medal for being in the Public Service for one third of its existence and persevering in the same organization, moving offices no more than 30 m in the entire period.

Jan Wilson got a certificate for being 'quiet achiever', and keeping Murray and the slide collection out of trouble for an inordinately long time.

Dave Mallinson got a certificate as well, and although it was for services to the Living Collections, he is now working in the Botany Section, so we can all bask in and share his glory.

Also honoured was Living Collection's John Nightingale whose wife Maggie used to work in the Botany Section... so we are going to claim a large chunk of that glory as well...  :)

Congratulations all!

[Jim Croft]



7. Diary of Events/Activities




Details (relate to projects)


1-6 July

Legumes Downunder Conference, Canberra, ANU

Several staff

4th International Legume conference

21-30 July

International Symposium on Fern Conservation, UK

Jim Croft

Presenting a paper at the Symposium

26-27 July

ABRS AC, Canberra

Judy West


1-3 August

Biodiversity Sector External Review

Judy West, Jeremy Burdon