Category Archives: News

Happy National Eucalypt Day 2020!

Eucalyptus pimpiniana​, growing in front of the State Herbarium. Photo: A. Thornhill.

March the 23rd marks National Eucalypt Day (see fact sheet from 2018, 360kb  PDF) in Australia. Prior to COVID-19 the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium had been preparing for two different eucalypt themed tours at Adelaide Botanic Gardens with State Herbarium and Botanic Gardens staff on the 22 and 23 March 2020. Unfortunately we have been forced to cancel them.

We will reschedule these tours sometime in the future but until then we will share some thoughts about this interesting group of plants that marks the occasion.

The eucalypts are actually three genera of predominantly Australian plants: Angophora, Corymbia and Eucalyptus (see also Australian Plants Society fact sheet, 4.5mb PDF). There are over 800 named species of eucalypts. While the majority of eucalypts are purely native to Australia there are a handful of species that have escaped the continent to the north and are native to Timor, New Guinea, Indonesia and the Philippines. The revised Flora of South Australia treatment for eucalypts was published in 2014 (33.8mb PDF).

May Gibbs Stamp, 2016

The living species that occur outside of Australia have fossil ancestors. In fact, the oldest known eucalypt fossil comes from Patagonia and is 52 million years old. Eucalypt fossil leaves have also been found in New Zealand, estimated to be about 20 million years old. We know though that eucalypts are not now native to either South America or New Zealand so at some point they became extinct in those countries and left Australia with an iconic plant group. An article on The Conversation last year discussed how the eucalypts came to dominate Australia.

The eucalypts gained great popularity through the creative works of May Gibbs in 1920s. These artworks have also been celebrated in Australian Stamps.

May Gibbs Stamp, 1985

It is poorly known that when May Gibbs first came to Australia as a child she first lived in South Australia, including in Norwood for a short time. Her family then moved to Western Australia where she spent most of her formative years. May Gibbs’ most famous characters, the gumnut babies Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, use various parts of eucalypts for their clothes. The most well-known pictures of the gumnut babies sees them sitting in big gumnuts which in fact are Corymbia fruit and not of Eucalyptus, most likely Corymbia ficifolia a native tree of Western Australia, and also a common street tree all around Australia. The hats that the gumnut babies wear are the calyptra (cap) of a eucalypt — petals that have evolved to form a protective bud cap. When a eucalypt flower opens the bud cups are pushed off and hundreds of anthers pop out. To raise public awareness for the Spanish Flu outbreak in 1919 May Gibbs painted a scene of a Kookaburra and a gumnut baby both wearing gum leaf facemasks — apt for our times.

On that note we want to say — Happy Eucalypt Day!

We hope that you stay safe and tucked away in your gumnuts until it is safe to come out.

Compiled by Andrew Thornhill, State Herbarium of South Australia & The University of Adelaide.

State Herbarium temporary closure

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the declaration of a public health emergency in South Australia, the State Herbarium of South Australia and the Library of the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium will close its doors to visitors from next week, Monday, 23 March 2020. We will get back to normal operating procedures once we have been advised that it is appropriate to reopen.​ 

Volunteers and Hon. Associates will also not be working in the building during this time. Some staff may work from home or only come in once or twice per week. If you want to contact the State Herbarium or individual staff members, please do not phone, but send an email.

Click here for a message of the Director of the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium, Dr Lucy Sutherland.

The general email address of the State Herbarium of South Australia is stateherbsa@sa.gov.au.

This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Note the spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically. A novel coronavirus, named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China in 2019. The illness caused by this virus has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Image: A. Eckert & D. Higgins

Swainsona hardcopies available

Hardcopies of two volumes of the State Herbarium of South Australia‘s journal Swainsona are now available for purchase.

Vol. 31 contains regular papers of the years 2017/18. The table of contents is available here. Retail price $50.

Vol. 32 is the special volume on Lichens of Kangaroo Island. All species that occur in the region are listed in “An annotated catalogue of the lichens of Kangaroo Island, South Australia”. An overview of this project (3.3mb PDF) that was published in Vol. 30 of the journal is also reprinted in this hardcopy edition. Retail price $42.

Hardcopy of the special volume was officially launched in Hobart by the author, lichenologist Gintaras Kantvilas, in November 2019. Dr Kantvilas is one of Australia’s foremost lichen experts and the Head of the Tasmanian Herbarium.

“This magnum opus presents the results of over 10 years of work on the lichens of Kangaroo Island. During this time, the author undertook extensive fieldwork and reviewed more than 1500 herbarium specimens. The lichen flora of Kangaroo Island consists of 366 taxa, of which 14 are restricted to the island. Ninety-five species are reported for South Australia for the first time, of which 19 are also new records for Australia.

This landmark study is the first to thoroughly examine and document the lichens of the Kangaroo Island. Each species is listed with a short, diagnostic description, many are illustrated with photographs. All specimens used to compile the catalogue of lichens are listed, making this publication an invaluable tool for future research. A brief history of lichenological work on the island is included, as well as a description of the habitats that lichens occur in.”

Published a few months before the devastating bushfires, this volume provides a unique insight into the lichen flora of the island and includes many records from areas that have been burned. It is is also available online (27.9mb PDF).

Gintaras Kantvilas and Brigitte de Villiers at the launch of “Lichens of Kangaroo Island” in front of a photo from the island. Photo: G.Kantvilas.

The volumes can be purchased from the front desk of the Botanic Gardens of South Australia, Goodman Building, Hackney Road, Adelaide (phone: 08 8222 9311). Postage will be added, depending on destination.

To access content of all volumes of Swainsona and the Journal of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens since Vol. 1 (1976) online, please visit the journal’s web-site at flora.sa.gov.au/swainsona.

New seedbank stamps

This month, Australian Post released a new set of three stamps about seed banking in Australia. The stamps feature seeds of rare and threatened Australian plants:

The seed image of the South Australian species were provided by the South Australian Seed Conservation Centre at the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium. The Seed Centre collects seeds from regions across the state to safeguard them in long term storage at sub-zero temperatures. By 2020, the centre aims to have at least 90 per cent of SA’s threatened plant species in the seedbank. The Australian Seed Bank Partnership facilitates and coordinates the activities of the country’s seedbanks.

Details on the individual stamps and an article on seed conservation can be found on the Australia Post website.

2018-19 Weeds Report now available

The State Herbarium of South Australia documents all known plant taxa (species, sub-species, varieties and forms) native and naturalised (weedy) in South Australia. These taxa are listed in the Census of South Australian Plants, Algae and Fungi. All newly discovered state and regional records are added to the Census throughout the year. The records are based on preserved plant specimens, verified by a botanists, and housed in the vaults of the State Herbarium.

Acacia cardiophylla from NSW, naturalised in South Australia. Image by Bidgee (CC-BY-SA 2.5 AU).

For all new records of non-native plants, an annual report is produced by the Weeds Botanist Chris Brodie and colleagues from the State Herbarium. The report includes the list of new weeds recorded for South Australia with locations, descriptions, and photographs. Also documented are updates to other taxa that have had a change in distribution, weed status or name. Other activities carried out by Weeds Botanist are also summarised, such as field trips or presentations to community groups.

The latest report is now available online:

Brodie, C.J., Lang, P.J. & Waycott, M. (2019). Regional Landscape Surveillance for New Weed Threats Project, 2018-2019: Annual report on new plant naturalisations in South Australia. (4.2mb PDF).

Also available for download are last year’s 2018 report (4.5mb PDF), as well as the report for 2017 (3.8mb PDF) and a compilation of all reports from 2010 to 2016 (3.7mb PDF).

Callitris oblonga subsp. oblonga growing in the Adelaide Hills. Image by C.J. Brodie showing old fruits.

These reports highlights to land managers, which non-native plant species have recently been found in South Australia and where. New records are listed as either “naturalised/established” (*) or “questionably naturalised/established” (?e).

Naturalised plant taxa are those that have originally been introduced by humans to an area, deliberately or accidentally. They have self-propagated without aid where they are not wanted, possibly spreading by natural means to new areas. An example listed in the recent report is Atriplex amnicola (river saltbush; 365kb PDF) from W.A. or Callitris oblonga subsp. oblonga (South Esk pine), originally from Tasmania. Both of are examples of Australian plants that have become weedy (see also a 1985 article by P.M. Kloot; 733kb PDF).

Questionably Naturalised plant taxa (i.e. possible new weeds) are introduced non-native plants that may be self-propagating without aid, but are not well established or lack data to classify them as naturalised. An example of this are Aloiampelos ciliaris (climbing aloe) and the hybrid Eucalyptus steedmanii × Eucalyptus sp. (Steedman’s mallet hybrid).

Any unknown or possible new state or regional weed records should be reported to Chris Brodie (0437 825 685, chris.brodie@sa.gov.au).