New Journal article: Feb. 2018

Today, the State Herbarium of South Australia published one paper in the online version of Vol. 31 of Swainsona.

Gintaras Kantvilas, Pertusaria crassilabra Müll. Arg. – a reinstated name for an Australasian lichen (935kb PDF).

The author from the Tasmanian Herbarium continues his contributions to lichenology with a review of the use of the name Pertusaria crassilabra. For a long time, this lichen has been known as P. melanospora in Australia, but this name actually applies to another taxon. Pertusaria is one of the largest genera of lichenised fungi and, with 191 formally recorded taxa, certainly one of the largest in Australia.

The lichen Pertusaria crassilabra, collected on Kangaroo Island. Photo: G. Kantvilas.

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

 

Plant of the Month: Feb. 2018

Olearia arckaringensis. Photo: P.J. Lang

A few months ago, State Herbarium botanist Peter Lang and SA Seed Conservation Centre‘s Dan Duval, were part of a field trip to Arckaringa Station.  One of the main aims of the trip was to survey populations of Olearia arckaringensis P.J.Lang, the State Herbarium of South Australia‘s Plant of the Month for February 2018.

Olearia arckaringensis, flower. Photo: A.C. Robinson.

The plant was first discovered in 2000 in gullies of breakaways in an isolated pocket of Arckaringa Station by DEWNR scientists Rob Brandle and Peter Lang. The daisy was recognised to be a new species and described in 2008 by Peter in the Journal of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens (895kb PDF). A further two populations were found in 2011 along the same breakaway system on the neighbouring property, Evelyn Downs. In 2016, O. arckaringensis was listed as Endangered under the federal EPBC Act (80kb PDF).

The recent survey discovered several new population of the species. The search took more than 100 hours and covered more than 100 km of breakaway country. The survey team counted and mapped well over 2000 Arckaringa daisy plants and confirmed that the species is rare with quite specific habitat requirements. It was mainly restricted to breakaway sites that had a softer more powdery underlying substrate and were situated in less exposed areas.

Voucher specimens of Olearia arckaringensis and other plants were collected for the State Herbarium and the Seed Conservation Centre. Such collections are vital to build plant knowledge and improve scientists’ ability to accurately describe and identify different species, whilst the stored seeds are a valuable insure against species extinction.

Olearia arckaringensis, old shrub with woody base. Photo: R. Brandle.

The plant is a small, compact perennial shrub, usually to around 30 cm tall, with grey-green leaves and light violet-lavender flowers (occasionally white) borne on long stalks. It rapidly develops a thick woody base from which it can regrow.

More information can be found in DEWNR’s newsletter The Weekly and SA Arid Land’s news release.

Olearia arckaringensis, plant in typical habitat. Photo: SA Seed Conservation Centre.

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, chris.brodie@sa.gov.au).

Contributed by State Herbarium Weeds Botanist Chris Brodie.

Fruits of the sea

Sometimes, working with algae can be frustrating. Collections come in to the State Herbarium of South Australia from various sources – SA Water, Natural Resource Management groups and Marine Biosecurity, for example. Collecting algae for identification can be a bit of a lottery, however. If essential reproductive stages are missing, and these often can’t be seen by the unaided eye, algal workers at the Herbarium can only provisionally suggest names which is disappointing for both collectors and those attempting the identification. But then, if we are lucky, we can also get samples that are bountifully fruitful, literally smothered in remarkable, although often microscopic, reproductive organs.

Whole plant (left) of Heterosiphonia muelleri and magnified detail (right) of the fluffy appearance. Photo: Bob Baldock.

One such case came from 5 m deep at Cable Hut Bay, near Cape Spencer, southern Yorke Peninsula, collected by James Brook. The alga was dotted with products of sexual reproduction (cystocarps) looking like the fruits of terrestrial plants.

The alga was Heterosiphonia muelleri (Sonder) De Toni in the Dasyaceae, a family named from “dasya” (Greek) meaning “shaggy”, an appropriate description looking in detail at the fluffy branches of this species (see also the Algae Revealed key to common red algae of South Australia, part V, 2.3mb PDF).

Two magnifications of cystocarps, one on a denuded part of the plant, the other with cystocarps nestled amongst threads. Photo: Bob Baldock.

More remarkable than the mass of thin threads covering the plant were the bright orange to red-brown cystocarps. These were stalked, semi-transparent “flasks”, with elegant conical necks through which the spores (carpospores), clustered within, are released to germinate into the next stage of the algal life cycle, an asexual spore plant. Under the microscope they looked “good enough to eat”, but, unfortunately, would not have proved a sumptuous meal, even though numerous.

With such beautifully reproductive material, identification was practically ensured. A look through the microscope showed ranks of large cell alternating with small ones along main branches, characteristic of the family Dasyaceae.

All that remained was to section and stain blue one of the main branches (axes). A central large cell with a ring of 10 small ones, wrapped (corticated) with even smaller ones was present and clinched the identification.

Surface view of a main branch (left) and cross section (right) of the axis of Heterosiphonia muelleri, stained blue and viewed microscopically. Photo: Bob Baldock.

It’s always a pleasure to work with such material, and satisfying when we can be sure of an identification, and I hope this gives you insight into some of the tasks involved in working with algae at the Herbarium.

Contributed by State Herbarium Hon. Associate Bob Baldock.