Author Archives: Jürgen

New Journal articles: Dec. 2020

Swainsona katjarra, a new species from Western Australia. Photo: K. Brown.

The State Herbarium of South Australia published three articles in Vol. 33 of its journal
Swainsona online, today 22 Dec. 2020: A paper on the genus Swainsona in Western Australia, and two papers on nomenclature and typification in the plant family Rhamnaceae.

This volume of the journal concludes with these articles; hardcopy of Vol. 33 will be printed within the next few months.

(1) J. Kellermann, Nomenclatural notes on the Alphitonia Group in Australia (Rhamnaceae). (3.4mb PDF).

The Alphitonia Group consists of four genera from Australia and the Malesian/Pacific region: Alphitonia (10-15 spp.), Emmenosperma (5 spp.), Granitites (1 sp.) and Jaffrea (2 spp.). The nomenclature and tyification of seven species are clarified in this paper.

(2) R.W. Davies & T.A. Hammer, A key to species of Swainsona (Fabaceae) in Western Australia and description of S. katjarra from the Little Sandy Desert region, Western Australia. (1.7mb PDF).

In this paper, a new dichotomous identification key to all 50 species and phrase names of the iconic genus Swainsona is presented. A new species from Katjarra (Carnarvon Range) in the LIttle Sandy Desert (Birriliburu Indigenous Protected Area) is also described. (A survey of the flora of Katjarra was published in 2014; 3.6mb PDF).

(3) J. Kellermann & F. Udovicic, A review of Colletieae and Discaria (Rhamnaceae) in Australia. (1.1mb PDF).

The authors describe the two species of Discaria in Australia and review the nomenclature and typification of D. pubescens; the type of the species is a rare and unusual example of a pre-1959 holotype. This species occurs in Tasmania, Victoria, N.S.W. and southern Queensland. The second species, D. nitida, has a more restricted distribution in the high country of Victoria and New South Wales. In areas where the distribution overlaps, sometimes hybrid plants can be found. The genus has also one species in New Zealand, D. toumatou, and three in extra-tropical South America: D. americanaD. articulata and D.chacaye.

Flowers of the Queensland tree Alphitonia petriei. Drawing by Anita Barley.

During the next year, 2021, the State Herbarium will publish two volumes of Swainsona:

  • Vol. 34 will contain several historical monographs, the first of which was published recently.
  • Vol. 35 will contain regular papers.

To access content of all volumes of Swainsona and the Journal of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens since Vol. 1 (1976), please visit the journal’s web-site at, JSTOR or the Swainsona back-up site.

State Herbarium closed

As you would be aware, the State Government has announced that South Australia will enter into a six-day lockdown from today in an effort to stop the spread of a COVID-19 outbreak in Adelaide.

This means that we will be closing Adelaide, Mount Lofty and Wittunga Botanic Gardens, and the State Herbarium, until at least Wednesday 25 November 2020.

Keep safe and we look forward to seeing you very soon.

New journal articles: Nov. 2020

The new species Cryptandra sabulicola, showing leaves with the typical recurved tips. Photo: J. Kellermann.

The State Herbarium of South Australia published two articles in its journal Swainsona online, today 12 Nov. 2020. The first article is published in Vol. 33, which contains regular papers for the years 2019 and 2020; the second article is published in the new Vol. 34, a special issue of the journal that will contain several papers on botanical history.

(1) J. Kellermann, Three species of Cryptandra (Rhamnaceae: Pomaderreae) from southern Australia allied to C. tomentosa(4.4mb PDF).

Vol. 33. — The author describes two new species of Cryptandra: C. setifera is restricted to rocky habitats in the north of Eyre Peninsula, extending to the Gawler Ranges, it was so far known as Cryptandra sp. Hiltaba; C. sabulicola is native to deep sands in northern Eyre Peninsula and on both sides of the South Australian-Victorian border, especially in and around the Billiat Conservation Park (C.P.), Murray-Sunset National Park (N.P.) and the Big Desert. A third species, C. campanulata Schltdl. is formally reinstated, if grows in rocky habitats of the northern Mount Lofty Ranges and southern Flinders Ranges. All species are related to C. tomentosa.

Illustrations from a sketchbook of Mueller’s nice Marie Wehl: a Pultenaea and two species of Melaleuca. Photo: Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria.

(2) J.L. Dowe, T.W. May, S. Maroske & L.T. Smith, The Wehl family of South Australia and their botanical connections with ‘Dear Uncle’ Baron Ferdinand von Mueller. (10.5mb PDF).

Journal cover with fungi illustrations by Marie Wehl. Australian Garden History Society.

Vol. 34. — The family of Ferdinand von Mueller‘s sister Clara Wehl collected specimens for him and also illustrated the plants and fungi that they collected. In this paper, John Dowe and co-authors provide a brief history of the Wehl family in South Australia and assess the herbarium specimens that they collected, as well as the illustrations by Mueller’s nieces Marie and Henrietta, determine the connections between them and their importance for the typification of several species.

The authors have also recently published a short overview of the Wehl family’s contribution to botany in Australian Garden History, Oct. 2020.


To access content of all volumes of Swainsona and the Journal of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens since Vol. 1 (1976), please visit the journal’s web-site at, JSTOR or the Swainsona back-up site.

Contributed by State Herbarium botanist Jürgen Kellermann.

Life between the cracks

The mystery plant, Callitriche sonderi, between pavements. Photo: C. Brodie.

A group of botanists from the State Herbarium of South Australia had an interesting find while walking in Adelaide Botanic Garden recently. Chris Brodie, a botanist specialising in non-native plants of South Australia was scanning around, always on the lookout for weeds. In the crack between two brick pavers he saw a tiny plant and got down on hands and knees for a closer look. Carolyn Ricci, Tracey Spokes and Peter Lang came over to see what he had found, all were down peering at the tiny green plant. The sight of four mature adults crawling around on the pavers attracted some strange glances and extreme social distancing from passers-by!  The plant was very small and intriguingly no one knew for sure what it was. Chris took some photos on his smartphone of an entire plant and zoomed in on the strange dark markings on the leaves.

Callitriche sonderi, fungal infection in leaf veins. Scale bar = 2 mm. Photo: P. Lang.

Seeing the magnified images, Peter suggested the dark leaf areas might be a fungal infection. Carolyn located further specimens nearby, it was then noted to be reasonably common in that area. A sample was taken for investigation.

On returning to the State Herbarium, Chris took a look at the sample under a microscope and was pleased to see the sample contained both flowers and fruit (these are often necessary for accurate identification of plant species). The plant was identified as a species of Callitriche. The fruit are the definitive characters for identifying species in this genus. The plant was not a weed at all, but a native species named Callitriche sonderi (formerly in Callitrichaceae, now in the family Plantaginaceae). A check of the SA Plant Census revealed the species is currently listed as Rare in South Australia.

Callitriche sonderi, flowers with style and pollen. Scale bar = 1 mm. Photo: P. Lang.

Peter used a digital image stacking process using a camera attached to a microscope to increase the depth of field shown in the macroscopic images of the plant.

It is good practice to look at other specimens in the collection to confirm identifications, and a search revealed that most of the Herbarium’s Callitriche specimens had been loaned to Richard V. Lansdown, a researcher at Kew and a world expert on the genus. Fortunately the loan had recently been returned and was being processed prior to its placement back in the vault. (Herbarium policy requires return loan material to be frozen to exterminate any pests that may have infiltrated the specimens in transit prior to returning to the collection). An Australian treatment published in 2007 by A.R. (Tony) Bean at the Queensland Herbarium indicated some changes to existing species concepts. Using the key to all Australian native and alien Callitriche species in Bean’s revision, and referring to the re-determined loan specimens returned from Kew, Peter and Chris were able to confirm that the pavement specimen remained within the species concept of Callitriche sonderi.

Callitriche sonderi, fruits. Scale bar = 1 mm. Photo: P. Lang.

Meanwhile Teresa Lebel, a mycologist and specialist in truffle-like fungi, Agaricus and Russulales at the State Herbarium, was consulted regarding the dark markings on the leaves and confirmed Peter’s hunch that it was indeed a fungal infection, most likely a smut fungus. Teresa, Carolyn and Bob Baldock took pictures of the fungal spores using a compound microscope with an attached camera. During this process they discovered an abundance of pollen, predominantly Pinus spp. and a few moss spores. Teresa consulted a colleague — Roger Shivas, a Plant Pathologist and Mycologist with a specialty in rusts, smuts and other microfungi at the Plant Pathology Herbarium at the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. Roger referred Teresa to a smut fungus Doassinga callitrichis found on Callitriche stagnalis in Germany, this being the only known smut/Callitriche association in his experience. However, Teresa’s investigations revealed that the Botanic Gardens smut does not affect the Australian Callitriche in the same way, and microscopically does not resemble the description of Doassinga callitrichis. Teresa and Roger are now planning a collaboration to research this potentially new species of smut fungus and new plant/fungal association.

Spores of the unknown smut fungus. Photo: B. Baldock.

While walking through the botanic gardens Tracey found another population of Callitriche sonderi growing between the pavers some 200 metres from the first find. This leaves us wondering if Callitriche sonderi is rare in South Australia or, because of its small size, it is rarely seen and collected.

Written by Herbarium staff member
Tracey Spokes.

WA Herbarium on TV

WA botanist Kelly Shepherd. Photo: K. Shepherd (Taxonomy Australia website).

Last week, in a segment on ABC’s Gardening Australia, our colleague Dr Kelly Shepherd from the Western Australian Herbarium was interviewed. She shares her passion for native plants and explains the work of a plant taxonomist and of the herbarium.

Online resources of the WA Herbarium include the State’s plant information system FloraBase, as well as Nuytsia, the journal of the Herbarium. To mark the 50th anniversary of the journal, the Herbarium aims to name 50 undescribed plants. More information, as well as profiles of each new plant, can be found on the institution’s  Facebook page.

Written by State Herbarium botanist Juergen Kellermann.