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Issue 61: June 2004

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. Staffing News

A warm welcome is extended to the following newly appointed staff members who have joined the AVH team.

Angelina McRae

Rachael Corvisy

Chris Blanchfield


Tara Hopley has joined the Orchid Research Group as a full time Technical Assistant and is located in Room 3.5.


Karen Thompson leaves the Centre on 23 July and the following words have been contributed:

Karen joined the AVH team in the first intake of data entry staff in January 2002. She was transferred early on to the ANBG, where the team was initially working in a very confined space in the Cryptogam Herbarium, which required everyone to call upon their team work skills, before moving into the more expansive surrounds of the current AVH room on the ANBG site. To date she is the only person to miss a day’s work due to potential embarrassment from an "injury" received during Melbourne Cup day. Karen’s cheerful attitude and good humour, reliable and consistent work output, excellent communication skills and willingness to provide support to her team mates has made her an extremely valuable member of the AVH team and she will be missed. We wish her well in her new job creating human pin cushions at the Canberra Hospital.

[Bronwyn Collins]


2. Australian National Herbarium

Next CPBR Seminar

"Yesterday's Toys"  - 

The Environmental Risks Associated with the Introduction of Exotic Grasses as Pasture Species in Australia's Tropical Savannas.

Presenter: John Clarkson


I will attempt to give a brief history of the introduction of grasses for pasture species, examine some of the environmental threats posed by some of the species released using two highly invasive species I have been involved with over the past few years, Hymenachne amplexicaulis and Andropogon gayanus, as case studies. I then plan to look at what might be done in the future to minimise the risk of similar problems occurring. I am currently involved in a Tropical Savannas CRC project which is looking at how effective the current weed risk assessment schemes are at providing early warning of potentially invasive species so the talk is relevant to some of the things I am working on at present.

Date: 28 July 2004 Time: 12.30 pm Location: Herbarium Tea Room

[Dr. Tupac Otero]


3. Research Groups

Acacia saved for Australian species

Acacia is a genus of about 1350 species, distributed from Africa around the Indian Ocean to tropical Asia and Australia and in the tropical Americas. Recent taxonomic research in Australia and abroad has increasingly pointed to the fact that this genus as we currently know it cannot be maintained as a single entity. It is likely that in the near future Acacia will be divided into at least five genera.

The vast majority of Acacia species, nearly 1000, occur in Australia. Of these, about 955 belong to the subgenus Phyllodineae, and make up our familiar wattles. Under the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN), when a genus is split in the way proposed for Acacia, the generic name follows the internationally accepted standard, known as the type species. Unfortunately, in the case of Acacia, the type species nominated was A. scorpioides, universally accepted as a synonym of A. nilotica. Thus when Acacia is split, the generic name Acacia would go with A. nilotica to a group of 161 species distributed across Africa, Asia and the Americas. Almost all of the Australian species would need new names under the next oldest available generic name, Racosperma.

Following decisions made at the last two International Botanical Congresses, the ICBN now allows that in cases where strict application of the rules of nomenclature would introduce unnecessary disruption to nomenclature, cases can be referred to the relevant standing committees of the International Association for Plant Taxonomy (IAPT) for a legislated exception.

In May last year Dr Tony Orchard (DEH), with Mr Bruce Maslin of the WA Department of Conservation & Land Management, prepared a case to change the type species of Acacia in such a way that, were it to be split up, the generic name Acacia would follow the largest fragment, the old subgenus Phyllodineae. This botanico-legal request was published in the journal Taxon (Orchard & Maslin, 2003), and since then the relevant committee (the Spermatophyta Committee of IAPT) has been considering the situation. Considerable lobbying ensued, and Orchard and Maslin have been involved in preparing a number of responses and supplementary papers.

It has recently been announced that the committee has made a decision to conserve Acacia with a new type species, A. penninervis. A detailed official report including reasons for their decision will be published in the journal Taxon, probably in the August 2004 issue. The Committee’s decision now needs to be endorsed by the General Committee of IAPT and ratified at the International Botanical Congress in Vienna in 2005, but assuming that it gets through these final two steps, it means that, should the genus be split in future, the name Acacia will still apply to the 948 species of Australian phyllodinous wattles, seven related species in the Pacific Islands, and 10 in tropical Asia. Only about seven Australian species will change their generic name to Vachellia, and two will become Senegalia. The official report of the Spermatophyta Committee, with detailed discussion of the reasons for their decision, will be published in Taxon, probably in August. In the meantime, background information and some of the documents supporting the case can be found on



Orchard, A.E. & Maslin, B.R. (2003). (1584) Proposal to conserve the name Acacia (Leguminosae: Mimosoideae) with a conserved type. Taxon 52: 362–363.

  [Tony Orchard]


4. General Centre Matters

Executive Committee

The next meeting of the Executive Committee is scheduled for 28 July 2004.

[Val Oliver]


Student Botanical Internship Program

Each year the CPBR offers up to 20 placements in its Student Botanical Internship Program. The placements are on a full time and unpaid (volunteer) basis, for seven weeks over January and February. The Program is designed primarily for students at the end of second or third year, although recent graduates may also apply.

The Program is intended to be of benefit to those seeking either professional or technical careers in plant sciences or conservation management. It provides real experience in the scientific workforce for new starters in the job market, with specific attention to CVs and employment skills. Interns provide valuable assistance to the CPBR, and finish the program with job references and better developed networks in science and conservation.

Interns will assist staff at the CPBR in Canberra, in the curation of the herbarium collections and in research support.

In return, Interns receive a broad spectrum of practical training in collections management, plant identification, taxonomic techniques, critical issues in the Australian vegetation sciences, plant conservation, and job-seeking in the scientific workforce.

Training sessions are conducted by professional scientists and technicians from the CPBR and related institutions. Training complements, rather than duplicates, that given at university.

Information packages have now been forwarded to tertiary institutions Australia wide and further information can be obtained on the website: or by contacting the Student Botanical Internship Program Coordinator, Anthony Whalen, on 6246 5175 or via email at or the Herbarium Curator, Brendan Lepschi, via email on

Applications close on 15 October 2004.

[Anthony Whalen}


Summer Scholarship Program

The Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research has run a very successful Summer Student Program for the past seven years. This program provides second and third year university students with the opportunity to undertake a research project under the guidance of a scientist in the Centre or in other divisions of CSIRO. The program has been successful in providing valuable experience to young potential scientists plus achieving valuable outcomes.

Potential projects are nominated by research staff in the Centre and if deemed acceptable (falling within the research program of the scientist involved, and capable of completion in 10 weeks) are advertised in August. Selection of successful candidates takes place in September – October. While publishable results are not a criterion of funding, several good papers have come from the studentships.

This year up to six (6) projects will be offered and will be funded by the Centre.

Further information on the Summer Studentships is available by visiting the website:


[Val Oliver]



ASBS AGM, workshop and Canberra Chapter Meeting

27th July 2004


The following workshop and Canberra Chapter meeting are timed to coincide with the Society’s 2004 AGM, to be held on the 26th July (see ASBS Newsletter 118, pg. 1) for details.


ASBS workshop – Preparation of a handbook to the Families of Australian Vascular Plants

Venue: Crosbie Morrison Building, Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG), Clunies Ross St., Canberra, ACT (see attached map)

Time: 9:30am - 4:00pm. For those participants unfamiliar with the ANBG, please meet at the ANBG Visitor Information Centre from 9 am and staff will direct you to the venue

Cost: $5 (collected on the day), to offset catering costs

Lunch and plus continuous tea and coffee will be provided on the day

Please note: Pay parking is in place at ANBG @$4.80 per day

Please respond to Kirsten Cowley (ph: (02) 6246 5024 or by Friday 16th July for catering purposes


ASBS Canberra Chapter Meeting

Speaker: Dr Steve Hopper (Murdoch University, Western Australia) – "Haemodoraceae: new insights on old questions in plant evolution and conservation"

Time: talk starts at 5pm, drinks and nibbles available from 4:30pm (by gold coin donation)

Venue: Australian National Herbarium, Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research (CPBR), CSIRO Plant Industry site, Clunies Ross St., Canberra (see attached map)

[Kirsten Cowley]