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Issue 49 - October 2002

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:


1. Herbarium

Australia’s Virtual Herbarium (AVH) happenings at CANB

Data entry for the AVH project has been underway for almost 10 months now and a great deal has been achieved in that time. Congratulations to the data entry team of Karen, Carmen, Theresa, Maggie, Di, Robyn and Brent who have done an excellent job making inroads into the collection, especially the ‘never ending’ grasses. A total of 30,710 specimens have been databased, of which 30% are new additions to the database and 70% are existing database records that have been verified.

Progress has been made in the following groups:

As of the middle of October, the team has been boosted in numbers by the commencement of five new part-time data entry staff. We would like to welcome Carolyn Weiller, Shaun Cunningham, Kashka Hempel, Peter Martensz and Catherine Gilbert to the Centre. The AVH data entry team is now split between the CSIRO site and the ANBG site, with some experienced staff and some new starters on each site. Staff on the CSIRO site wishing to catch up with AVH staff based on the ANBG site should have the opportunity each Wednesday morning at our regular meeting/cake day.

[Jo Palmer and Julie Matarczyk]


Volunteer achievements

Volunteer support in the Centre is vital to the wellbeing of the Australian National Herbarium. Over this last year considerable volunteer effort has gone into the Mounting Program, the Loans and Exchange program and assistance in the library. In the Mounting Program alone nearly 27,000 specimens were mounted for addition to the herbarium collection. Also, many boxes of duplicates of staff collections have been sent out as exchange to other institutions and hundreds of cards have been filed in the library cataloguing system.

Last month at a special Morning Tea eight of our herbarium volunteers were acknowledged for their commitment to the Centre. Congratulations to Doris Brotherton and Richard Strudwick who where honoured for 5 years of service, and Jean Crawford, Patrick Crone, Pauline Wicksteed, Margaret Boots, Karin Fyfe and Malcolm Fyfe who were honoured for an outstanding 10 years of service.

[Jo Palmer]


2. Research Groups

The Centre is awarding four (4) summer scholarships for 2002-2003 and the successful applicants are due to commence with the Centre in the first week of December 2002. Brief details on the applicants are as follows:

Nicole Vella from Macquarie University will be working with Christine Cargill on "The Hornwort Genus Megaceros: The Australian Connection".

Amy Davidson from the University of Melbourne will be working with Augusto Becerra and Bo Wang on "Are Australian Native Cottons Harbouring Pathogens of Cultivated Cotton?"

Pierre-Ulric Achour from Curtin University will be working with Maurice McDonald (CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products) on "Taxonomy of the Red Ironbarks: how many species are there?"

Rosemary Golding from University of Sydney will be working with Bob Godfree on "Invasion Ecology: Investigating the Effects of Naturally Occurring Clover Viruses on Trifolium repens."

[Val Oliver]


Throw another log on the fire – photographing eucalypts in the Northern Territory

During August and September this year, John Connors and I spent just over three weeks in the field in the Northern Territory, taking photographs of the northern eucalypts for the upcoming EUCLID III, as well as general collecting.

Our first few days were spent in and around Darwin, getting our vehicle organised, collecting our gear from the friendly folk at the Darwin Herbarium (DNA) and chasing up a few local eucalypts in the Darwin area. From here we travelled east to the greatly over-rated Kakadu National Park, which proved to be an exercise in intense frustration, mainly because we were not able to obtain permits to collect in the park. Still, we managed to get decent shots of a number of species, including Kakadu endemics such as E. glomericassis and E. gigantangion, a spectacular orange-flowered species related to E. miniata. From Kakadu, and its attendant hordes of tourists, we travelled south to Pine Creek, where John was berated by an inebriated local for collecting a specimen from a remnant tree in front of the local caravan park. Suitably chastised, we continued south to the Katherine area to look for various ghost gums, bloodwoods and the northern salmon gums, E. bigalerita and E. tintinnans.

We had a number of species to look for at Katherine Gorge (Nitmiluk) NP, but we ran up against what was to become the curse of our time in the Top End – fire. The local NT populace, perhaps fearing a botanical onslaught from their southern counterparts, saw fit to set torch every square inch of the Top End before our arrival. Instead of a verdant oasis at Katherine Gorge, we were confronted with a charred moonscape – if that wasn’t enough, we also had to deal with an overtly officious ranger who would give Basil Fawlty a run for his money when it comes to customer relations. Undeterred, we pressed on and managed to get decent photos of a handful of species, including a locally restricted bloodwood (E. arnhemensis) and a white gum (E. herbertiana).

Caption: Try collecting here! Just S of Adelaide River, NT (J. Connors)

From Katherine we travelled to the Victoria River area, and things started to pick up – there was less evidence of fire, more plants to collect and the natives were generally friendly. Basing ourselves at the isolated Top Springs Roadhouse (where the favoured song on the jukebox was, appropriately enough, Monty Python’s "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life") we radiated out into the surrounding country. We spent a day in the spectacular Gregory NP, looking for the recently described E. gregoriensis, as well as the incredibly small-fruited E. brachycarpa, a day looking around the general environs for E. ferruginea, E. pruinosa and assorted ghost gums and bloodwoods, and a day in the Lajamanu/Kalkiringi (Wave Hill) area near the northern edge of the Tanami Desert chasing E. flavescens and other ghostgums and bloodwoods. General collecting was also very good here, and I was able to make up for the previously slim pickings further north.

A quick 190 km along a corrugated dirt road called the Buchanan Highway and we reached the Stuart Highway near Dunmarra, and headed south towards Tennant Creek and Alice Springs. Botanists being what they are, we generally didn’t have to travel more than a few hundred metres from the highway to locate the plants we were after, and we covered the distance to Alice Springs fairly rapidly – highlights on this stretch were flowering E. pachyphylla near Wauchope, E. sphaerica near Barrow Creek, a strikingly photogenic stand of E. victrix at Aileron, and a very rich patch of regenerating scrub south of Barrow Creek which yielded a couple of full presses of material.

At Alice Springs we caught up with David Albrecht at the Alice Springs Herbarium (NT), and David and I spent a day in the field looking at a new arid zone Exocarpos while John did the washing and ironing. From Alice Springs we headed north again, mopping up a few things we’d missed on the way south, such as E. odontocarpa and E. leucophloia, and basically retraced our steps to Tennant Creek. From here we headed east on the Mt Isa road to look for E. deserticola subsp. mesogeotica, and then north once more to Pine Creek. We then covered the last major stretch of country we hadn’t yet seen, from Pine Creek to Darwin via Adelaide River. This was important as it was our last chance to locate species such as the NT’s only ironbark (E. jensenii) and the enigmatic stringy-barked bloodwood E. jacobsiana. Then it was back to Darwin, with a couple of days to chase up some ‘leftovers’, organise our gear and vehicle and leave just before the oppressive heat and humidity of the ‘Build Up’.

All in all, we covered 4500 km in just over three weeks, and managed to collect and photograph 65 of the Territory’s 80 eucalypts – a successful trip, but one that we wouldn’t have been able to do without the kind assistance of the staff of the Darwin and Alice Springs Herbaria.

[Brendan Lepschi]


3. Education and Communication

Biodiversity Bites

Peter Thrall and Linda Broadhurst presented the final lecture in the Biodiversity Bites series on Wednesday 6 November at the Discovery Lecture Theatre. The title of the lecture was Bushland on Life Support and Denis Saunders chaired the session.

The website address for the lecture content is

And this will be available from Tuesday 12 November.

This series of lectures has been very well attended and I am sure all of you who have heard the presentations will agree the standard of the lectures from our staff has been outstanding. My thanks to everyone involved in this outreach activity besides Brendan, Curt, Trudi, Pete and Linda as presenters, but also all the helpers particularly our great graphics designer Siobhan, and Murray, Val, Jo and Bronwyn.

Now that the hard work has been done developing the lectures it is relatively painless to present them in other venues [the presenters said this, not me!], so if you have any suggestions about other occasions or groups that you feel would want to hear what we have been doing please let me or any of the speakers know.

[Judy West]


4. Information Technology and Data Management

Some Outlook hints -

[Val Oliver]


5. General Centre Matters

Next Program U/Centre meeting

The next Program U/Centre formal meeting is scheduled for Wednesday 13 November in the ANH Tearoom at 10.15 am. Agenda items may be forwarded via email to

[Val Oliver]