Darrell first became involved as a plant collector in 1957 soon after the establishment of the State Herbarium, and over the ensuing years contributed over 7000 collections. He also wrote the botanical history section prefacing the 1986 edition of the Flora of South Australia (Kraehenbuehl 1986), as well as a number of stand-alone papers on notable South Australian botanists.
At age 19 Darrell became a foundation member of the Nature Conservation Society of South Australia. He was also an active member and one-time president of the Field Naturalists Society of South Australia. Darrell drew on his detailed knowledge of the flora to help secure the conservation of many areas now protected as National Parks and Wildlife Reserves.
In the 1980s and 90s he worked in the Native Vegetation Management Branch of the then Department of Environment and Planning where he pioneered assessments of plant conservation status within specific regions, a crucial tool in assessing vegetation clearance applications.
He was also influential as a popular speaker, sharing his knowledge of the State’s flora and remnant native vegetation with numerous local groups and schools.
Darrell’s early interest in the flora of the Adelaide plains began as diversions into remnant patches whilst on delivery runs in a scrap-metal business with his stepfather. It culminated in the publication of his definitive and highly acclaimed book documenting the pre-European vegetation of the Adelaide Plains (Kraehenbuehl 1996).
In 1998 Pultenaea kraehenbuehlii, a bush-pea endemic to the Tothill Ranges, was named in honour of Darrell and in recognition of his botanical exploration of that area (see also original description of the species in the Journal of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens; 776kb PDF).
A more detailed account of Darrell is available here from a speech by State Herbarium honorary associate Bill Barker on the occasion of Darrell’s retirement in 1999.
Darrell was a colourful character who is remembered for his diverse contributions to botany and passionate commitment to plant conservation, as well as his sense of humour, generous nature and infectious enthusiasm.
Contributed by State Herbarium botanist Peter Lang.
Kraehenbuehl, D.N. (1986). History of botany in South Australia (1800-1955). In: Jessop, J.P. & Toelken, H.R. (eds), Flora of South Australia. Fourth Edition. Part 1, pp. 13-39. Government Printer: Adelaide. (0.9mb PDF)
Kraehenbuehl, D.N. (1996). Pre-European vegetation of Adelaide: a survey from the Gawler River to Hallett Cove. 317 pp. Nature Conservation Society of South Australia: Adelaide. (see book review).
Lang, P.J. & Kraehenbuehl, D.N. (1987). Plants of Particular Conservation Significance in South Australia’s Agricultural Regions: interim report. 178 pp. South Australian Dept. of Environment and Planning: Adelaide.