The background to this web page is the bollards by
Simon Taylor
which stand as sentinels at key entrances to the Gardens.
Collectively, they list over one thousand endangered, vulnerable and extinct native plant species.
The plant names form silhouettes in the stainless steel pipes and are illuminated by light.
The new bollards are part of the Gardens' Public Art Programme, initiated in 2001
with the release of a Public Art Masterplan funded by the Friends of the Gardens.
Photograph : Barry Brown




June, 2004

  Rod Harvey recently finished working at the Gardens after 17 years of service. He was always helpful, enthusiastic and had a great sense of humour.
Rod was instrumental in establishing the main path, and getting the Public Art Program up and running. His cheerful involvement with the Friends and the Guides will be greatly missed.
We wish him well in his new position.
Photo : Murray Fagg

Association of Friends of Botanic Gardens

Conference  2004

The conference was held at the Australian National Botanic Gardens on 16 - 18 April and hosted by our Friends. It was a very successful weekend with 68 registrations from 14 member Gardens.

The weekend began with refreshments and registrations on Friday evening when the Friends' President Andrew Walker welcomed the visitors. It was an enjoyable opportunity to meet old friends and new.

On Saturday morning the Conference was opened by Dr Jim Croft, Botany Director, ANBG, who gave an interesting introductory talk about these gardens, their development and aims, and he acknowledged the staff who had supported the Friends' preparations.

A full program of speakers followed, with Dr Denis Saunders giving the opening address, "Biodiversity : can we do anything to halt its decline?"

Before lunch the visitors were taken on walks in the Gardens by the Guides, and in the evening a buffet dinner was held at University House with Jennie Churchill, ABC Gardening Australia, as guest speaker.

Enjoying the Conference
Photo : P Wicksteed

Two garden visits occupied Sunday morning with the party divided into two groups for visits to the Sculpture Garden at the Australian National Gallery and to the Park's garden in Red Hill. Then it was back to ANBG for lunch and farewell to our guests.

We have many to thank for making the conference so successful. In particular, our committee who worked very hard to ensure all details were covered; the Director and staff of the ANBG for their support throughout our planning and for the provision of venues and facilities; and all the Friends who registered and helped with arrangements, the Guides who led walks, the Craft Group and caterers who provided excellent food each day. We also thank all those Friends from other Gardens who came and shared this weekend with us.

The next conference of the Association will be in September 2006 to be hosted by the Friends of Royal Botanic Gardens, Cranbourne, Victoria.

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Danish Wedding Trees

Anne Phillips , Member of Growing Friends

Did you know that the Gardens' staff played a big role in organising this gift of trees for the wedding of Crown Prince Frederik and Mary Donaldson?

In February 2004 Murray Fagg, Botanical Information and Web Manager, was contacted by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade seeking the feasibility of exporting Australian trees to Denmark. Then proceeded some liaison with the Ceremonial and Hospitality Branch of Prime Minister and Cabinet. In collaboration with Jo McAuliffe (Nursery Manager), Paul Janssens (Curator, Living Collections) prepared a report recommending five species, of which three were chosen : Lagarostrobus franklinii (Huon Pine), Eucalyptus pauciflora (Snow Gum) and Eucalyptus gunnii (Cider Gum), which is commonly grown in the Northern Hemisphere.

Three of each were requested, but six of each were sent. The report also listed climatic similarities between Denmark and Australia, the growing conditions needed for each tree, the quarantine and export requirements and costings.

The trees were bought from Plants of Tasmania Nursery (as suggested by Stuart Donaldson, Collections Officer), and shipped to Canberra for permits and thence on to quarantine for their inspection, to make sure that they were free of pests, etc (the Danish authorities won't accept plants with lots of potting media). There they were carefully packaged in sphagnum moss by Jo McAuliffe and Paul Janssens. Paul drove to Sydney on 21 April to drop off the precious cargo at the Freight Terminal at Mascot Airport where they would be stored in a cool room for their journey.

It is proposed that some will be planted at the Botanic Garden in Copenhagen and in the grounds of the Royal Palaces.

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Research at the Australian National Botanic Gardens
Jim Croft
Deputy Director (Science and Information), ANBG

A primary role of botanic gardens is to enlighten, inform, and entertain the visiting public and community and to increase awareness and appreciation of plants, their biology, their horticulture and their conservation. At the Australian National Botanic Gardens this is encapsulated in the Plan of Management and most succinctly in our Mission Statement : to grow, study and promote Australian plants. Growing, studying and promoting melds very neatly with the three main operational areas of the Gardens : Living Collections and Development; Botany and the Australian National Herbarium; and Public Programs, Visitors Service and Education.

This is the first of a series of articles on research activities in the ANBG, mainly but not exclusively, the work of the 'Botany Section", the Australian National Herbarium and botanical databases, the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, and botanical knowledge in botanical libraries and on the Internet - collectively the 'study' part of the ANBG Mission.

Ten years ago the ANBG and CSIRO Plant Industry reached an agreement to pool staff, specimens, research programs and other resources to form a new Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, merging activities to create a larger and more dynamic centre of botanical research excellence with increased capacity, capabilities and a wider range of expertise (http://www.cpbr.gov.au/cbpr/). The Gardens contributed its herbarium, its botanical databases and its orchid research and other plant taxonomy and systematic programs; CSIRO contributed its herbarium, its botanical databases, its systematic and taxonomic research and its conservation biology research programs. For the last decade the Centre, with staff from both the ANBG and CSIRO, has been providing botanical information services for the Gardens, including the all-important managing scientific integrity of the living collections through vouchering and provision of up-to-date names and identifications.

Jim Croft and Christine Cargill collecting bryophytes in the field
Photo : Murray Fagg

The Centre has three main research areas or programs. These are the Australian National Herbarium, plant systematics research and conservation biology research. Research in all these areas uses facilities and infrastructure on both CSIRO and ANBG sites, and in many cases involves close collaboration with other botanic gardens and herbaria across Australia and overseas.

The Australian National Herbarium (http://www.cpbr.gov.au/cpbr/herbarium/) is a scientific collection of 1.4 million preserved plant specimens of species from all regions of Australia. There are, in fact, three sites to the ANH - the main collection on the CSIRO site which houses the flowering plants; the collection on the ANBG site which houses the ferns and fern allies, the mosses, liverworts, lichens and fungi and the conifers; the rainforest annexe in Atherton which is a specialist collection of plants from far north Queensland. The collections of the Herbarium provide the raw materials for systematic and taxonomic research and ensure correct names are applied to plants growing in the Gardens. Details from the specimens are stored on the databases of the Integrated Botanical Information Systems (IBIS) and with records from other herbaria contribute to Australia's Virtual Herbarium (AVH) (http://www.chah.gov.au/avh/).

Plant Systematics Research : Staff in the Herbarium and in the Centre undertake research on the taxonomy and evolutionary relationships on a wide range of Australian plant families genera. This research involves close inspection of herbarium specimens, use of traditional and scanning electron microscopes and the latest molecular analyses. Major research projects involve the Orchidaceae, Asteraceae, Rutaceae, Eucalyptus, Melaleuca, Syzygium, Malvaceae, Santalaceae, liverworts, fungi ... and the list goes on, with many staff working on a wide range of smaller plant groups.

Dissected orchid flowers, mounted on card
Photo : Murray Fagg

New species are being discovered and described regularly, and genera are continually being redefined as new information is brought to light. These results are made available in scientific journals and through publications such as the Flora of Australia. An important vehicle for taxonomic research information is the range of interactive plant identification keys - staff are working on keys to Eucalypt species, rainforest plants, pea-flowered legumes and to the genera of orchids. An up-to-date summary of new names and name changes for the Australian Flora is maintained in the Centre as part of the Australian Plant Name Index (APNI) and its What's Its Name (WIN) interface.

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What's in a Name?

Bernard Fennessy , Volunteer Guide

Eucalyptus nova-anglica in the Australian National Botanic Gardens is in Section 4, downhill from the sundial in the Rock Garden. There are two large specimens. This species, New England Peppermint, is also called Black Peppermint. It has a finely fibrous bark.

Photo : Murray Fagg

Its natural distribution is in the New England tablelands of New South Wales (hence the specific name of nova-anglica), extending into the adjacent high country of south-eastern Queensland. Its altitudinal range is 500 to 1500 metres, mainly above 750 metres. The climate is cool to cold, with frequent frosts and snow in winter, and a rainfall of about 1000mm. In colder sites it grows with the Snow Gum (E. pauciflora subspecies pauciflora), Black Sally (E. stellulata) and Candlebark (E. rubida), but on drier and slightly warmer sites it occurs with New England Blackbutt (E. andrewsii subspecies andrewsii) and various stringybarks.

In the past few decades the growth of E. nova-anglica on the New England tablelands has been adversely affected by 'rural decline' associated with heavy grazing by insects, particularly beetles such as chrysomelids and scarabs.

E. nova-anglica was named by Henry Deane and Joseph Maiden.

Henry Deane (1847-1924), engineer and scientist, was born in London and educated as an engineer in Ireland. Soon after graduation he worked on the construction of Hungarian railways. He came to Sydney in 1880 and became a railway surveyor and worked on the construction of the railway from Homebush to Hawkesbury River. Later he worked as a consultant engineer in private practice for the Commonwealth Oil Corporation Ltd, and constructed a railway to a shale-oil mine in the Newnes district. In 1908 he was appointed consulting engineer for the survey of the transcontinental railway between Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie, and in 1912 he became engineer-in-chief for the construction branch of the new Commonwealth Railways.

Deane was also an accomplished botanist and worked on the Tertiary fossil flora of eastern Australia. He published many papers, often with J.H. Maiden, on botany and palaeontology and made a special study of Australian timbers. E. deanei which occurs in the Blue Mountains, is named after him.

Joseph Henry Maiden (1859-1925), botanist and public servant, was born in London, completing a science degree at the University of London. He came to Sydney in 1880 and became curator of the new Technological Museum there. He became an expert in economic botany and encouraged research into the properties of Australian timbers and essential oils. In the late 1880's he published The Useful Native Plants of Australia and Wattles and Wattle-barks. He became superintendent of technical education in 1894 and in 1896 director of the Botanic Gardens, Sydney, and Government Botanist. One of his major achievements was the formation of the National Herbarium of New South Wales, opened in 1901. In 1902 he visited Europe and returned with nearly 600 botanical specimens collected by Joseph Banks in 1770 and hitherto stored in the British Museum.

Maiden's major works were A Critical Revision of the Genus Eucalyptus, appearing in over 70 parts from 1903, in which he recognised 366 species, and his Forest Flora of New South Wales in 77 parts from 1904. He published a life of Joseph Banks in 1909, and helped to found Wattle Day.

In March 2004 a grove of E. nova-anglica near Armidale on the New England tablelands was incorporated into a memorial to poet Judith Wright by a local community group. She was born there in 1915. Her words "Country that built my heart" are carved on one of the trees in the memorial. She wrote evocatively of the New England area in her poem South of my days :

"part of my blood's country,
 rises that tableland, high delicate outline
 of bony slopes wincing under the winter,
 low trees blue-leaved and olive, outcropping granite
 clean, lean, hungry country."

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 Grasses in the Gardens

Dichelachne micrantha   (Shorthair Plumegrass)
Synonym  D. sciurea

Pauline March , Member of the Friends of the ANBG

Dichelachne :  from the Greek dichelos (clove footed) and achne (chaff, scale)
                     referring to the bilobed lemma.
micrantha :    from the Greek mikros (small) and anthos (flower). Spikelets small.

This native grass is a tufted perennial to about 1.2m tall. Its inflorescence is a dense spike-like panicle, 8 - 20cm long (hence the name Plumegrass), which is sometimes looser at the base, becoming denser with age. The spikelets are laterally compressed, being single flowered with one fertile floret and a slender awn. The awn comes from below the lemma apex and can be curved or bent, often wavy, while the column is usually twisted. Leaves are 8 - 25 cm x 0.2 - 0.5 cm, flat, dark green and mainly basal. Culms are slender, erect and glabrous with nodes that are generally very dark.

D. micrantha makes an interesting ornamental grass for gardens but is rarely grown.

It can be seen at the ANBG in Sections 168 or 175. Dichelachne is a small genus, distributed extensively throughout Australasia, and is common in the bushland around Canberra. The stems of one of the Plumegrasses, D. crinita, have been used in paper manufacture.

Dichelachne species offer potential as plants for native landscaping, flowering from October to December. Propagation is by division or from seed, which should not be sown for 6 - 12 months after collection. They are cool-season grasses with rough leaves and are a useful component of native pasture or open forest. They have some use as a forage species since they produce leaf growth during winter. The species persist poorly under heavy grazing. As a minor component in native grasslands and grassy woodlands they are plainly visible because of their height and distinctive seedheads, which change from green, through a reddish shade to the straw colour of maturity. They frequently occur as sub-dominant species in Kangaroo Grass and Wallaby Grass communities.

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Compiled June, 2004 by Shirley McKeown   -  email : wombats1@tpg.com.au