Helen Kennedy ‘Melichrus urceolatus on Black Mountain is a different species to Melichrus urceolatus on Mount Ainslie!’

You are here

Thursday, 12 October 2023 - 12:30pm to 1:30pm
Helen Kennedy
Helen Kennedy

Helen, a local botanist, will present updated taxonomy for Melichrus, especially on the locally relevant results which show that Nancy Burbidge was right when she thought there were actually two species in the ACT.

Booking link: https://www.trybooking.com/CJTYT


Melichrus R.Br. is an Australian endemic genus of shrubs in the heath and heather family (Ericaceae) with just six currently described species, all of which are confined to eastern Australia. This genus has received very little taxonomic study and its few treating authors have largely disagreed on species delimitation. Helen’s PhD research has tested species boundaries, using both molecular and morphological data and inferred a species level phylogeny as part of the Genomics for Australian Plants Initiative to comprehensively describe the diversity in Melichrus for the first time.

Here Helen presents a first look at the updated taxonomy for Melichrus, revealing several new species and the evidence which support their delineation. She will focus especially on the locally relevant results which demonstrated that Nancy Burbidge was right all those years ago when she scribbled on a specimen of Melichrus in the National Herbarium collection that she thought there were actually two, not one species of Melichrus in the ACT.

Acknowledgements: This research is the work of Helen T. Kennedy, Rose L. Andrew1 Ian R. H. Telford1, Darren M. Crayn2,3 Jeremy J. Bruhl1

1Botany and N.C.W. Beadle Herbarium, School of Environmental and Rural Science,
University of New England, Armidale NSW 2351, Australia
2Australian Tropical Herbarium, James Cook University, Cairns, Qld 4870, Australia.
3Centre for Tropical Environmental Sustainability Science, James Cook University, Cairns, Qld 4870, Austral-ia.


Helen Kennedy is an Identifications Botanist at the Australian National Herbarium. She recently submitted her PhD thesis at the University of New England studying the systematics of a genus of native shrubs called Melichrus. Helen combines analyses of morphology, anatomy and genetics to examine patterns of speciation and produce robust, descriptive and highly usable taxonomic classifications. Helen aims to contribute to the description and conservation of natural diversity.

Lunchtime talks are held at 12.30 pm every Thursday from February to November. Talks last for 1 hour. We welcome donations by gold coins, notes, or electronically. The Friends use donations received at each talk to support Gardens’ programs and development, and thank all those who have donated. 

Unless otherwise indicated, talks are held in the ANBG Theatrette.

It is a good idea to reserve a seat at the talks that you wish to attend; talks may be booked out very quickly.  Bookings can be made until the night before the talk or until seating limits are reached. 

Booking link: https://www.trybooking.com/CJTYT

The Friends of the ANBG thank the speakers who volunteer their time and talents to further the knowledge of all attending events in the Gardens. Some summaries or PowerPoint presentations of Thursday talks are available to Friends at the ANBG library. Please direct queries about the talks to the Thursday Talks Team: email talks@friendsanbg.org.au.

The talks are in line with COVID-19 guidelines which can change rapidly.