Category Archives: News

Artist Lilian Cooper visiting the State Herbarium

Lilan in her temporary studio. Photo: Elisabeth Schelvis.

As a result of a chance meeting two years ago with Carolyn Ricci at the State Herbarium of South Australia in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, I was introduced to the world of algae. This was one of those fortuitous occasions when meeting someone so impassioned by her subject had an equal reaction on myself. For the last two years I have developed a fascination for algae and seaweed in particular.

I suspect as an artist I approach the subject matter from a different viewpoint than the majority of scientists. My focus is form, composition, the internal structure and the colours of the plants. At all microscopic levels seaweed proves to be fascinating. Carolyn had mentioned in passing that if I found seaweed interesting on a one to one scale then I really needed to see it closer under the microscope and she was entirely correct.

Close-up of the red alga Bonnemaisonia. Photo: Lilian Cooper from material stored at the State Herbarium.

Creatively it was one of the most productive days, I felt like I merely dipped into the subject matter and there is so much I would like to learn and explore. The more I see the more I look forward to further study. It was a privilege to have the laboratory time, the opportunity to use the microscopes and to see and handle some of the extraordinary plant specimens in the collection.

A “wooden book” prepared by von Schlümbach. Photo: Kasteel Groeneveld, The Netherlands.

Presently I work as the visiting artist to Hortus Botanicus Leiden in the Netherlands. I am researching a project on the life and death of trees, this involves me working with researchers from various institutes on the latest tree diseases as well as creating portraits of individual trees. The work is collated in a contemporary xylotheque, reflecting an original xylotheque created by Friedrich Alexander von Schlümbach of Nuremberg in 1790 especially for the university of Leiden. It was commissioned by Louis Napoleon and presented in 1809 as the very latest scientific knowledge (click here and here to see some examples of the parts and contents of a “wooden book”). I am working in turn with contemporary scientific research to create a project that reflects the artistic qualities of our latest technology. My work creates a bridge between the work of specialists in their field and the general public. I aim to make it more accessible appealing to the aesthetic.

The opportunity I have had to spend time in Adelaide has been a privilege. I want to develop the algae project into a substantial body of work exploring the beauty and internal form of the plants. Learning about the herbarium collection has been like entering a box of delights that continually opens to show more and more aspects of plants that I either did not know or had never seen in that way before. I want to heartily thank the Herbarium for letting me visit, for guiding me through the collection and for their warm welcome.

Contributed by Lilian Cooper (

Lilan Cooper sketching a succulent in Leiden. Photo: Elisabeth Schelvis.


ASBS-SASB Systematics 2017 Conference

Last week, the joint meeting of the Australasian Systematic Botany Society (ASBS) and the Society of Australian Systematic Biologists (SASB), including the biennial Invertebrate Biodiversity and Conservation Meeting, was held in Adelaide. About 160 delegates, botanists and zoologists, met at The University of Adelaide to hear about and discuss the latest research and developments in systematics and taxonomy.

ASBS President Darren Crayn congratulating Burbidge Medallist Pat Brownsey. Photo: J. Clarkson.

HIghlights of the meeting included

Presentations by research students and professional botanists and zoologists were excellent and provided an insight into the latest research in systematics in Australia and New Zealand, as well as the application of new techniques and methods. The Conference Book with abstracts to all presentations is available online (5.1mb PDF).

The Organising Committee included staff members and post-graduate students from the State Herbarium of South Australia, The University of Adelaide, the South Australian Museum and Flinders University.

The next ASBS Conference will be held at the Queensland Herbarium in Brisbane in Dec. 2018.

The University of Adelaide, Barr Smith Library in the foreground. Photo: M. Seyfang (CC-BY).

Weed reports from The State Herbarium of South Australia now online

Cardiospermum grandiflorum, a new weed found in Adelaide. Photo: C. Brodie.

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.

For all new records of non-native plants, an annual report is produced by the Weeds Botanists 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, Regional Landscape Surveillance for New Weed Threats Project, 2016-2017: Annual report on new plant naturalisations in South Australia is now available online (3.8mb PDF).

Previous annual reports from 2010 to 2016 have been combined in to one document and are also available (3.7mb PDF).

Nerine sarniensis, an introduced bulb in Belair National Park. Photo: P. Lang.

These reports highlights to land mangers, 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).

Chris Brodie collecting a specimen of Eucalyptus woodwardii near Snowtown. Photo: P. Lang.

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 Cardiospermum grandiflorum, commonly known as Balloon Vine. It is a climbing plant that is spreading along a suburban creek line the suburb of Darlington. An attractive bulb species, Nerine sarniensis (Guernsey Lily), has been found naturalising in Belair National Park.

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 in the report are a selection of species of Eucalyptus from W.A. and eastern Australia, including E. campaspe, E. spathulata, E. tricarpa, E. urna and E. woodwardii.

A map of State Herbarium botanical regions of South Australia can be found here.

Any unknown or possible new state or regional weed records should be reported to Chris Brodie (08 8222 9468, 0437 825 685,

Contributed by State Herbarium Weeds Botanist Chris Brodie.

New journal article & Swainsona Supplement: Nov. 2017

Goodenia asteriscus, flower. Photo: P.J. Lang.

(1) Today, the State Herbarium of South Australia published one paper in the online version of Vol. 31 of Swainsona. The journal was formerly known as the Journal of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens and was renamed this year.

P.J. Lang & R.J.-P. Davies, Goodenia asteriscus (Goodeniaceae), a new arid zone species from northwestern South Australia and eastern Western Australia (1.6mb PDF).

In this article, the authors describe a new species of Goodenia. The plant is a perennial rosette-forming herb, occuring north-western South Australia and eastern W.A. It was first discovered during vegetation surveys in Western Australia in 2011. Later matching specimens were found in the herbarium collections of the State Herbarium of South Australia and the Western Australian Herbarium. A visit to the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands in the NW of South Australia enabled Peter Lang to collect new material, including the type specimen.

Goodenia asteriscus, habit. Photo: P.J. Lang.

(2) Furthermore, the Proceedings of next week’s joint meeting of the Australasian Systematic Botany Society (ASBS) and the Society of Australian Systematic Biologists (SASB), including the biennial Invertebrate Biodiversity and Conservation Meeting, were published as Supplement no. 5 of Swainsona (5.1mb PDF). More information on the Conference can be found on its web-site More than 140 delegated are expected to attend the 3-day meeting.

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