Category Archives: News

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).

Queen’s Birthday Honours

The 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours list included two names with a close relationship to the State Herbarium of South Australia: Bev Overton and Peter Copley. Bev received the award of Member of the Order of Australia, and Peter received the award of Public Service Medal.

Bev and Dean Overton in their natural habitat (Photo: KI NRM).

Back in February 2016, the State Herbarium did a blog article on Kangaroo Island couple Bev and Dean Overton. The story congratulated them for being recognised as Kangaroo Island high achievers for their outstanding efforts in conserving and raising awareness of KI’s natural environment at the Local Achievers Natural Resource Management Board Awards ceremony held on Australia Day that year.

Richard Tretheway (NRM Board President), Bev and Dean Overton, Damian Miley (DEWNR) (Photo: KI NRM).

Last year the Herbarium was approached by Kangaroo Island environmental consultant and botanist Michelle Haby to help support a nomination for Bev Overton to receive recognition in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours. The final nomination was put together and submitted by Michelle and Bev’s husband Dean. Sadly Dean died unexpectedly before the news of Bev’s successful nomination was known.

You can read more of Bev’s impressive nomination here (156kb PDF). An article in THE ISLANDER newspaper also appeared recently.

Peter’s medal recognises his contribution and commitment of more than 40 years to help conserve threatened species and ecological communities in South Australia, as well as his role in biodiversity research and policy development. Peter reviewed the daisy genus Ixodia for his Honours at the University of Adelaide and has contributed 3601 collections to the State Herbarium over the years. His interest in botany was no doubt inspired by his father Bruce Copley, a Yorke Peninsula farmer who pursued an interest in his local native flora by collecting and submitting many specimens to the Herbarium.

Peter Copley (left image, Courtesy of THE WEEKLY). Peter Canty, Peter Copley and Peter Lang botanising in the APY Lands in 1994 (right image).

Manager Peter Canty and Senior Botanist Peter Lang have worked closely together with Peter over many of those years, especially when they were part of the Biological Survey of South Australia program. Peter Copley lead the over decade-long biological survey of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands. The knowledge captured by that survey was greatly enhanced by working with Aboriginal Traditional Owners and Peter’s ability to establish close working relationships with the elders and their communities was pivotal in this particular survey’s success, and being recognised with a SA Great Award in 2003 in the Environment Category for an ‘Outstanding Contribution to South Australia’.

Read more of Peter’s impressive nomination.

The Herbarium was very pleased to be involved in their nominations and wishes to congratulate them on their well-deserved recognition.

Written by State Herbarium Manager Peter Canty.

Grasses keys online

Several years ago, the State Herbarium of South Australia published Grasses of South Australia by J.P. Jessop, G.R.M. Dashorst & F.M. James in collaboration with Wakefield Press. This is the well-known standard work on the grass family Poaceae for the State and can also be used in adjacent regions of other States.

KeyBase is a database and web application for managing and deploying interactive pathway keys. It presents traditional dichotomous keys in a new way online. In addition to standalone keys, KeyBase also delivers identification keys to the new  online Flora of Australia and VicFlora.

Keys to the South Australian Flora are currently being added to Keybase. Last week, Kat Ticli from the State Herbarium completed the conversion of the keys to species in Grasses of South Australia and uploaded them to KeyBase. Poaceae is one of the largest plant families in the State. Having this key and others online will enable easy access to this information and be helpful to anyone wanting to identify the native and naturalised grasses of South Australia.

Click here to enter the Grasses of South Australia KeyBase project.

Our botanical bunker

Recently, Chief Botanist, Prof. Michelle Waycott, was interviewed by The Adelaide Review about the history of the State Herbarium of South Australia and its holdings. The resulting article is now available.

Couper, S. (2019). Inside the bunker safeguarding South Australia’s rare plants and botanical history. The Adelaide Review (posted 9 Apr.).

As mentioned in the article, during South Australia’s History Festival, the State Herbarium will also offer guided tours through the old Tram Barn building. Please note that the dates in the above articles are not correct. The tours will take place on Sat., 25 May & Sun., 26 May 2019.

Please go to the History Festival’s website for more information.

The State Herbarium also published the following brochures, which are accessible online:

  • Canty, P. (2012). The old tram barn: A short history of the Tram Barn A, now housing the State Herbarium of South Australia. (1.1mb PDF)
  • Bell, G. (2012). One million and counting: History and special collections of the State Herbarium of South Australia. (0.5mb PDF).

New eucalypt phylogeny

Last month, Dr Andrew Thornhill started working at the State Herbarium of South Australia.  Originally from Melbourne, Andrew studied and worked at Monash University (Melbourne), the Australian National University, Australian National Herbarium and CSIRO (all Canberra), the Australian Tropical Herbarium (Cairns), the University of California (Berkeley, USA) and the federal Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (Canberra). In his current position, he is working for both, The University of Adelaide and the State Herbarium on a variety of projects, including the analysis of molecular data-sets and re-organisation of the Herbarium’s bryophyte collection.

In 2011, Andrew started a project on creating a complete species level phylogeny of the eucalypts (which include the genera Eucalyptus, Angophora and Corymbia). The idea was to sample DNA for as many eucalypt species as possible, combine that data and see how all of the species were related to each other. This week, over seven years later, the project was published.

Thornhill, A.H., Crisp, M.D., Külheim, C., Lam, K.E., Nelson, L.A., Yeate,s D.K., Miller, J.T. (2019). A dated molecular perspective of eucalypt taxonomy, evolution and diversification. Australian Systematic Botany 32: 29-48.

Eucalyptus porosa. Photo: Clive M. Chesson.

There are over 800 described eucalypt species in the world and we are close to soon having 900. Around 1/8th of the total number of eucalypt species are native to South Australia and they grow in the arid and forest areas in an array of habits, be it mallees or trees up in the hills.

The paper presents a dated phylogeny of the Australian eucalypts and a diversification analysis to show if any parts of the eucalypt phylogeny have had accelerated diversification. What Andrew and his colleagues found was that many of the species that grow in the arid and forest areas of southern and south-eastern Australia have only evolved in the last two million years, this includes many of the eucalypt species that grow in South Australia. Their origin comes due to a divergence with Western Australian eucalypts, but that’s not to say that Western Australia is where eucalypts originated. There are even deeper splits in the history of eucalypts that suggests that either south-west Western Australia or south-east Queensland could be the source of origin. One way to find this out may be by finding new ‘oldest’ fossils in either of these places, which would help provide evidence that eucalypts grew there in the deep past.

The results of this research are also discussed by Andrew in an article in The Conversation. The treatment for eucalypts in the new, 5th edition of the Flora of South Australia is also available (33.7mb PDF).