Issue 28: May 2000


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 Suzie Dietrich, the coordinator.


Suzie Dietrich: ph (02) 6246 5533; fax (02) 6246 5249; email:


1. Herbarium and Services

1.1 Field Trip to Tallaganda

I accompanied Michael Doherty (CSIRO Wildlife and Ecology) on a one-day field trip to Tallaganda State Forest, south of Captains Flat, north of Wadbilliga.

Michael has been a consultant with the Comprehensive Regional Assessment of SE NSW, this is the process where the NSW State Government provided money to assess State Forest and other crown land for areas that may be of significance and need the protection of National Park status. A large part of Tallaganda State Forest will shortly be transferred into a newly declared National Park.

Michael and I searched through some of the eastern valleys to see if Atherosperma moschatum was present, it has not been found in the previous surveys and is a good indicator species for rainforest pockets. There was no trace of Atherospema but there were some interesting "rainforest fringe" species collected that are needed for the Public Reference Herbarium

The Centre has been involved in the CRA assessment over the last three years, providing identifications for some specimens collected in field surveys.

It was encouraging to see some really nice stands of forest, with a good range of Eucalyptus species, soon going into a National Park.

[Anthony Whalen]

1.2 Economic Plant Names

Bob Makinson, Judith Curnow, Bronwyn Collins and I have been checking a list of economic plant and fungi names for Environment Australia (EA) over the last few weeks. This list of 3,500 names is needed by the Wildlife Protection Group of EA, and we have annotated the list to show whether each species is native, exotic or found in both Australia and other countries. This I assume is needed for importation restrictions.

We will keep a copy of this list and it should prove useful for those interested in economic plants. It includes an indication as to which parts of the plants are used for different purposes.

[Anthony Whalen]

1.3 Emergency Beacons for Fieldwork

Ever mindful of your safety, Program C has bought three mini-EPIRBs (emergency satellite beacons).

These, when activated, will alert the national Rescue Coordination Centre and give them a precise geographic fix to work with.

The beacons have a five year battery life, are buoyant, small (about the size of a medium "popper" juice), and very easy to operate. Instructions are included.

The should be used in real emergencies only, and only after attempts have been made to call for help with any available phones or radios. The EPIRBs should NOT be used in cases of simple mechanical breakdown.

The EPIRB signals are not coded for particular users, so the Rescue centre will have no idea of who has activated the device until they find you; nor, naturally, the nature of the emergency.

From mid-June, an EPIRB will be located in each of the 4WD field vehicles (2 x CSIRO, 1 x ANBG). Depending on space they will be in the glove box or centre console, or mounted on the vehicle interior.

Staff going on fieldwork (even day-trips) are encouraged to transfer the EPIRB to their backpack when away from the vehicle, BUT IT IS THEN THE TRIP-LEADER’S RESPONSIBILITY TO REPLACE THE EPIRB IN THE GLOVE BOX. The life of the next colleague to use the vehicle may depend on this.

Staff using a vehicle other than one of the 4WDs for fieldwork should take one of the EPIRBs along. It is again the TRIP-LEADER’S RESPONSIBILITY to determine which 4WD is least likely to be used in your absence, liaise with any competing users, and to leave a note taped to the dash or steering wheel (not loose!) of the vehicle from which the EPIRB has been removed. Replacement of the EPIRB in its correct home 4WD is again the trip-leader’s responsibility.

If staff treat the EPIRBs with the casualness and lack of accountability that is frequently shown with the GPS units, a fatality or serious injury is more likely. It could be you. Please take these more seriously.

[Bob Makinson]

2. Research Groups


3. Information Technology and Data Management

3.1 WWW Site

The URL for the Centre can be found at:

Please check regularly for new items of interest re Centre staff and activities.

4. Education and Communication

4.1 An Iranian Garden

On a recent holiday to Iran (that popular tourist destination) I came across a mention of a horticultural garden 'for plant enthusiasts only' in the Lonely Planet Guide. None of my Iranian contacts had heard of it but a visit to a botany professor's home resulted in an invitation to visit the garden.

I was met by Dr A.A. Maassoumi, Head of the Botany and Research Division of the Research Institute of Forests & Rangelands, about half an hour’s drive west of Tehran. After a brief look at the herbarium (they all look the same) we went for a tour of the Garden.

Its about three times the size of the ANBG, established in 1969, set out similarly with thematic beds based on both Iranian ecological regions and taxonomic groupings. They have about 10% of the Iranian flora growing there, but also exotic species in their taxonomic beds.

One huge part of the Garden is a two dimensional taxonomic bed set out in an attempted evolutionary layout of plant orders and families, reminded me of the Dahlgren illustration in the Flora of Australia Vol 1 (p.135) as a garden bed plan.

All of this, plus about 100 gardeners, and its not open to the public - just around 10,000 visitors a year, mainly students and invitees (the ANBG gets about 340,000).

[Murray Fagg]

4.2 Photos of ACT flora

The Friends of Aranda Bushland recently donated 300 slides to the Gardens photograph collection. These slides were used to illustrate the book Our Patch which the group published in 1997. The slides are linked to a donated reference herbarium stored with the Public Reference Herbarium in the ANBG Visitor Centre. To further facilitate public access to this information the slides have been digitised on Photo-CD and will shortly be available on the ANBG web site.

[Jan Wilson]

5. General Centre Matters


5.1 Joan Graham’s Retirement

After 11 years at the Herbarium, Joan Graham retired on 23 May. Staff farewelled Joan at a Barbecue held under the Oak Tree on Thursday, 18 May.

Joan joined the Division as a joint appointment with Pennie Hohnen to work in the Australian National Herbarium 11 years ago. At that time CSIRO apparently had not previously appointed people as joint appointments. Despite the anxiety we put the personnel sections through then, I think we have proven what a successful exercise it really was. In her part of that duo, Joan has played an extremely productive role in the Herbarium and the Centre in a supportive capacity. Since the formation of the Centre, Joan's abilities to organise and to liaise with all the various personalities of such a complex body have been critical to the smooth running of the place. In her capacity as building manager she supported many activities of the Centre quietly in the background. We all appreciate very much the input Joan has made over the years and hope that she is going to thoroughly enjoy her retirement.

[Judy West]

5.2 Maggie Nightingale’s Resignation

Maggie Nightingale has accepted a position with Greening Australia and will leave the Centre on Friday, 9 June.

Maggie began working in CSIRO Plant Industry on a short term contract databasing herbarium specimens in 1991. During the next couple of years she explored her taxonomic interests in areas such as grasses and Scleranthus, and then journeyed into the orchid arena transferring to the ANBG in 1993. Then with the formation of the Centre Maggie came back again and has since played a very important technical role in the orchid research group. Her major tasks have been associated with the living collections aspects of the orchid work, both in culture and as live plants in glasshouses. Those of us who work mainly on the dead ones greatly admire the dedication and perseverance shown by Maggie in maintaining such a valuable collection which will serve well into the future.

We will miss Maggie around the herbarium, but I am sure she will be happy in her new role as Policy & Program Development Officer with Greening Australia. She will still be in Canberra and I hope we'll have some future links.

[Judy West]

5.3 Suzie Dietrich’s Resignation

After nearly 8 years, Suzie is resigning to take up a position with the Defence Housing Authority. Suzie’s last day at the Centre will be Wednesday, 14 June, on which we are holding a farewell B-B-Q in her honour.

Suzie began her CSIRO employment by working for two program leaders, Liz Dennis and myself in 1993. With the formation of the Centre and the enlarged responsibilities of the Program Leader, Suzie transferred to the Centre and continued to work as the Personal Assistant for the PL and as the Centre Executive Assistant, in the past year becoming full time. She has excelled in her job and has helped enormously in the smooth running of the Centre in all its complexities. Suzie rises to the occasion under busy schedules and her efficiency has assisted many times in meeting seemingly impossible deadlines. Her many talents and pivotal role in the Centre will be missed by us all, but I am sure Suzie is going to fare well in her new role with DHA, and we wish her well.

[Judy West]

5.4 Admin Assistant/Receptionist

Louisa Lo, who has been working as the Administrative Assistant, has been seconded to CRC for Satellite Systems. Megan van der Velde will be working at the Centre for approximately one month in a temporary capacity until this position is filled. Welcome Megan.

5.5 Siobhan Duffy

Siobhan Duffy has started as the Graphic Designer and will work primarily on EUCLID II with John Connors and Andrew Slee. Siobhan will be situated in Building 502, Room 2.27 with Cathy Miller. Welcome Siobhan.

6. Other News

6.1 Species Plantarum

The Guide for Contributors to the Species Plantarum Project, including the Glossary of Terms, is now available in Chinese. If you have a Chinese colleague who is thinking of contributing to this series and would like to have a copy, they are available on request from:

Dr Tony Orchard, ABRS, GPO Box 787, Canberra ACT 2601

Contributions will still need to be submitted in English, but the Chinese language instructions should assist contributors to understand just what is required.

[Tony Orchard, ABRS]

6.2 Floodplain Flora of the Northern Territory

This book of about 400 pages and copiously illustrated in colour and with line drawings of virtually all taxa will be published in late June.

The seasonally inundated, coastal floodplains of the Northern Territory are the largest of their kind in Australia. They are a haven and breeding ground for numerous bird species, a home to crocodiles and other reptiles, and support a range of mammals, and their waters teem with an array of fish. This book is primarily an identification tool for the floodplain flora, which provides shelter and is the primary food source for the rich animal diversity. An introductory essay discusses the natural history, ethnobiology and management and conservation issues of this important ecosystem.

This book provides the first comprehensive account of the plants of the coastal floodplains and will be invaluable to naturalists, biodiversity managers, biologists and all visitors to the Top End - that part of the Northern Territory north of about Mataranka.

The main part of the volume consists of descriptions, illustrations and keys to enable identification of the more than 300 conspicuous species of plants that grow on the floodplains. It will also be of use in identifying plants that occupy seasonal or permanent billabongs and lagoons of the Top End of the Northern Territory, as it includes an account of almost all fully aquatic plant species in the Territory, including those not found on the floodplains.

There are 90 full page black and white figures, 84 of them being carefully executed line-drawings illustrating 328 taxa, and 14 additional pages of colour photographs.

The main authors of the Flora are Ian Cowie and Philip Short (with assistance from a number of others) and the line drawings are by Monika Osterkamp Madsen.

ABRS is editing and publishing the Flora for the Northern Territory Herbarium, and copies will be available from ABRS (Flora), GPO Box 787, Canberra ACT 2601 from late June. The cost is expected to be around $60.

[Tony Orchard, ABRS]

6.3 Allan Cunningham’s Collecting Localities during Phillip Parker King's coastal surveys of 1817-1822

This book, by Suzanne Curry & Bruce Maslin, with graphics by John Maslin, is to be published by ABRS in late June or early July.

Of about 100 pages, it will provide a detailed guide to Cunningham's collecting sites, with dates, and some commentary, and will be invaluable to those who need to make decisions on dates and provenance of the Type specimens and other collections of this important early botanist.

It will be obtainable from ABRS (Flora), GPO Box 787, Canberra ACT 2601 from early July. Price to be announced.

[Tony Orchard, ABRS]

  1. Diary of Events/Activities




Details (relate to projects)

8 April – 17 July

Overseas travel to Morocco, Italy, Malaysia and Germany

Tony Brown

IPGRI workshop in Morocco; working as HRF at IPGRI in Italy; international conference on genetic resources in Malaysia; research study on Brassicaceae in Germany.

4-9 June

Overseas travel to the Netherlands

Rogier de Kok

Rogier will give a research talk at the Biogeography of Southeast Asia Conference in the Netherlands.

5 June – 15 June

Overseas travel to the USA

Andrew Young

Andrew will give a research seminar at UC Davis, California and a paper at the annual meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology, Missoula, Montana.

15 June – 16 July

Overseas travel to Kew, UK and Washington DC, USA

Judy West

Judy will attend a management and future planning meeting for IPNI at Kew and will lead the Australian team for automated identification at a workshop in Washington DC re US/Australia Bioinformatics Interactions. Between the two meetings Judy will work at Kew on Portulaca and Pultenaea research projects.

23-24 June

Murrumbidgee Landcare Association AGM

Jim Croft and Murray Fagg

Jim and Murray to travel to Cootamundra to attend the Murrumbidgee Landcare Association Annual General Meeting. The Centre will supply a poster and flyer re ‘Greening the Grainbelt’, which is the project the Centre is jointly involved in with the Harden Landcare Group.

15 July – 19 Aug

Overseas travel to France and USA

Randy Bayer

Randy will visit Rennes, France in connection with his lab work on the genome evolution project as well as to collect Spartina anglica. Randy will then attend the Botany 2000 Conference in Portland, USA, to present the results of his findings concerning phylogenetic relationships of Australian Asteraceae.

July 2000 –
Jun 2001

Visiting Scientist

Professor Brenda Wingfield

Univ. of Pretoria, South Africa. Expert in application of molecular techniques to fungal systematics. Will spend one-year sabbatical at the Centre working with Jeremy Burdon on systematics of the Uredinales (rust fungi).

1-3 Aug

Biodiversity Sector Scientist Meeting

Judy West and Jeremy Burdon

Scientific meeting across the Biodiversity Sector to develop linkages, look at future directions and develop flagship projects.

9-10 Aug

ABRS Advisory Committee

Judy West


21-25 Aug

Australian Research Council

Jeremy Burdon


23 Aug

Centre Board meeting


27 Aug – 14 Sept

Overseas travel to UK and Sweden

Jeremy Burdon

Jeremy will attend the British Ecological Society Special Symposium meeting (University of London) on Ecological genetics and chair the session on metapopulation scale interactions. Jeremy will also visit Professor Lars Ericson’s Lab at the University of Umea, Sweden to continue ongoing research collaboration in host-pathogen evolution in metapopulation frameworks.

6, 13, 20, 27 Sept

Biodiversity Seminars - Discovery

Judy West

Continuing with the successful Biodiversity Big Picture Seminar Series which the Centre presented last year to celebrate Biodiversity Month. The seminar series will be held on four consecutive Wednesdays in September at the Discovery Centre.