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Summer Scholarships 2003-2004

Taxonomic and morphometric studies of Pultenaea glabra complex (Fabaceae)

Supervisors: Judy West


Pultenaea (Bush peas) is an endemic Southern Australian genus and the largest within the Australian Fabaceae. Members of the genus are ecologically important as they often form a dominant or sub-dominant shrub layer in dry and wet sclerophyll forest and heathlands. The genus has recently been revised by de Kok and West at the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research and Australian National Herbarium (de Kok and West 2002, 2003) and a treatment prepared for the Flora of Australia. During that research project a number of taxa which exhibit significant morphological variation were not satisfactorily resolved even though considerable time was spent trying to understand the variation. The decision was taken to complete a treatment of the genus in the 3-year period and to have that available as a hypothesis for further testing.

One such complex, which was not fully resolved in the recent studies, centers around Pultenaea glabra Benth. De Kok and West (2002, p. 94) proposed Pultenaea glabra to include two described taxa previously recognised by others (e.g. Corrick 1996) - P. weindorferi Reader and Pultenaea villosa var. glabrescens Benth. - and two unnamed taxa/populations, Pultenaea sp. ‘Olinda’ (Coveny 6616), also known as Pultenaea sp. E, and Pultenaea sp. ‘Genowlan Point’ (NSW 417813) (see Weston 1991, Weston and de Kok 2002). As recognized, P. glabra is composed of some geographically disjunct entities (Dandenong Ras of Victoria and NSW central western slopes and tablelands) exhibiting morphological variation that appears to intergrade, hence the decision to recognize one morphologically variable species. This has generated some discussion with other legume workers, particularly Peter Weston of RBG Sydney, who believes the entities show more morphological distinctness.

Aim and outline of the project

The main aim of the project will be:

To determine the taxonomic boundaries of P. glabra in the broad sense, through

It is envisaged that the student will gather morphological data across the variation of the species and will carry out a detailed explicit analysis of morphological variation using morphometric analyses. Most of the material needed for this study is presently in Canberra or Sydney; herbarium material will be complemented with some fieldwork in eastern New South Wales and southern Victoria. The anticipated outcome of the project is to reach a better understanding of the morphological and ecological variation within the species and to determine if there is more than one entity within Pultenaea glabra sensu de Kok and West. The outcome of this study will be incorporated into a paper for publication dealing with the taxonomy, ecology and geography of the Pultenaea glabra complex, and the student will be invited to participate in its preparation.

It is expected that the student will gain experience in:


The project will be supervised jointly by Judy West of the CPBR and Peter Weston of the RBG, Sydney. During the 10-week period the student will visit Sydney and Peter will visit Canberra on at least one occasion.


The project will require access to herbarium material and regular microscope and computer equipment.

Some travel will be necessary – one trip to RBG Sydney for discussions with Weston (probably combined with field work in Blue Mts) and one to MEL to examine the type material which has been returned (combined with field work in Dandenongs).

Field travel will involve the Dandenong Ranges in Victoria and the Blue Mts and Central Western Slopes of New South Wales. It is anticipated that each trip would be of a few days only.


Bentham, G. (1864) Leguminosae. In ‘Flora Australiensis’. Vol. 2. pp. 1-425. (L. Reeve & Co.: London.).

Corrick MG (1996) Pultenaea. In ‘Flora of Victoria’ Vol. 3. (Eds NG Walsh, TJ Entwisle) pp. 765-793. (Inkata Press: Melbourne)

de Kok RPJ and West JG (2002) A revision of Pultenaea Sm. (Fabaceae), 1. Species with ovaries glabrous and/or with tufted hairs. Aust. Syst. Bot. 15: 81-113.

de Kok RPJ and West JG (2003) A revision of the genus Pultenaea (Fabaceae), 2. Eastern Australian species with velutinous ovaries and incurved leaves. Aust. Syst. Bot. 16: 229-273.

Weston PH (1991) Pultenaea. In ‘Flora of New South Wales’ Vol 2. (Ed. GJ Harden) pp. 481-497 (New South Wales University Press: Kensington)

Weston PH and de Kok RPJ (2002) Pultenaea. In ‘Flora of New South Wales’ Vol 2., Revised Edition (Ed. GJ Harden) pp. 549-565 (New South Wales University Press: Kensington).


Updated 1 August, 2003 by webmaster (cpbr-info@anbg.gov.au)