Talking Australian Plants

I’m just back from the Australian Systematic Botany Society’s conference, followed by three days working in the herbarium of Sydney’s Botanic Gardens.

Conference.  The conference involved three days of talks about the evolution and taxonomy of plants. I presented our recent work on the hen & chickens ferns. I found the response interesting, including several people suggesting that separate species should be recognised even when genetic evidence is not accompanied by morphological differences.

Talks of direct interest to New Zealand included:

  •  a re-analysis suggesting that the New Zealand kauri may not be so ancient.
  • the taxonomy of the tangle ferns (Gleichenia) is more complicated than we thought.
  • New Zealand’s Toronia toru is possibly better placed (back) in Persoonia.
  • a discussion about quality assurance for plant identifications for environmental impact assessments and the like.

Also of interest, the Society may be changing its name to “Australasian…”

Hen & chickens ferns.

Fieldtrip. The conference field-trip allowed an examination of the flora near Armidale (north-east New South Wales). I was interested to see that many of the ferns were the same or very similar to New Zealand’s.

Asplenium flabellifolium, necklace fern, occurs in both New Zealand and Australia.

Blechnum wattsii is very similar to New Zealand’s B. procerum.

Hymenophyllum flabellatum also occurs in New Zealand.

This Australian Coprosma does a good impression of a divaricating plant.

This rare Gingidia species occurs near Armidale. The genus, a member of the carrot family, is otherwise confined to New Zealand.

Many plants weren’t so familiar.

The parasitic orchid Dipodium.

A Stylidium trigger-plant.

Grevillia acanthifolia. Beautiful. It’s a shame that the Ice-Age all but eliminated the Proteaceae family from New Zealand.

NSW herbarium. I examined specimens relevant to my current research (especially Lastreopsis and Asplenium). The NSW herbarium at Sydney’s Botanic Gardens is as big as New Zealand’s three main plant collections combined (Landcare Research, Auckland War Memorial Museum, and Te Papa).

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