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fostering research into
the biology and
cultivation of Australian
17 New Series
Celebrating 30 Years
In recognition of our 30th anniversary, the AGM and preceding
Council meeting were held in November at the Australian Botanic
Garden Mt. Annan.
The attendees were treated to a sumptuous lunch and afternoon tea prepared
by Alison Goodwin. After the meetings we enjoyed a tour of the seed bank
facilities conducted by Dr Cathy Offord, Manager of Horticultural Research
at Mt. Annan.
In his President’s Report to the AGM, Peter Goodwin outlined the
Foundation’s history from humble beginnings to the position now,
where we have recently made our 101st grant. Since 2000 we
have awarded more than $500,000 in grants. See page 2 for Peter’s
The Council meeting at the Bowden Centre, Australian Botanic Garden, Mt
Left to right: Jenny Jobling (Treasurer), David Murray, Peter Goodwin
(President), Michelle Leishman, Charles Morris (Vice President), Richard
Williams (Vice President), Paddy Lightfoot, Ian Cox (Secretary), Ross
Smyth-Kirk. (Absent: Tina Bell).
Cathy Offord explaining the procedures of seed collection and processing
to Council members.
President’s Report (1982 to) 2012
This report aims to summarise events over the past 30 years under three
1. Communication with members
2. Funding for grants and administration
3. Impact of our grants
1. Communication with our members
Over the past 30 years the Council has used a number of methods to communicate
A. Initially Annual Reports were produced, probably under the
guidance of Bill Payne.
1982: The 1982 Annual Report announced that in April 1982 the Foundation
was recognised as an ‘approved research institute’ for the
purposes of the Income Tax Assessment Act: donations became tax deductible
on condition that grant applications were reviewed by an external Research
Committee approved by the CSIRO.
1983: The good news in 1983 was that the organisation was formally incorporated.
1984: In 1984 it was decided to switch from invited members, to accepting
membership from anyone who supported the aims of the Foundation, and 143
members are listed in the 1984 Annual Report. However, the President’s
Report asks more members to pay their membership fee ($5).
1986: A similar problem of people not meeting their commitments was made
in the Board of Directors report in 1986, there apparently being no President
at the time this Annual Report was produced. However in 1986 grant applications
were called for for the first time, and grants to begin in 1987 were awarded.
Grants have been awarded every year since.
B. Newsheets and Annual Reports. The problem with the type A Annual Reports
was that they were very expensive to produce, and the Foundation had very
limited funds for administration, so none were produced after 1986. In
1988 Malcolm Reed became Vice President of the Foundation, and produced
a new type of report, which he called a Newsheet, typed on A4 paper, and
readily photocopied and distributed. In 1988 the first final reports were
received, and the results made available to members via a Newsheet. This
evolved into an Annual Report, starting in 1990, and produced in 1991,
1992, 1993 and 1996. In early 1998 Malcolm became ill, and had to drop
out of Foundation activities.
C. Newsletters. Beginning in 2003 Ian Cox took on the responsibility of
producing a Newsletter, initially one per year, but since 2007 two per
year. This is emailed or posted to all members of the Foundation. It provides
information on grants, the findings from research supported by the Foundation,
and research of interest to people interested in Australian native plants.
D. Website. In 2004 a site developed by Peter Goodwin, with the assistance
of Val Williams, was launched. The website lists all grants and their
Final Reports since the inception of the Foundation. It contains a brief
history of the establishment of the Foundation, and much else as well.
The Foundation’s research funding ability, as measured by its level
of assets, has gone through three phases, the first what could be called
the pre-bequest era, lasting 11 years from 1982 to 1992. Funds came from
membership subscriptions (about 30%) and donations (about 70%) and of
course interest on these amounts.
For the first four years the Foundation was unable to offer research grants,
but at the fourth AGM (1986), with over $10,000 in total assets, the decision
was made to call for applications for grants, and after review of the
applications by the Research Committee, three grants were awarded. By
1992 the Foundation had reserve funds exceeding $20,000, and had given
grants totalling $30,000, on average two grants totalling $4,000 per year.
The next era could be called the major early bequest era. Between 1993
and 1999 the Foundation received the Bowden bequest, the Carver bequest
and the Armitage bequest, totalling over $500,000. These greatly increased
the ability of the Foundation to fund research on Australian plants, and
as well over these years, due to the initiative of the President, Malcolm
Reed, funding for grants was received from the RIRDC ($34,450) and the
Lord Mayor’s Bush Fire Appeal ($56,336).
This brings us to what could be called the present era. Since 2000 the
Foundation has given grants totalling over $500,000, on
average three and a half grants totalling just under $40,000 per year,
ten times the research grants in the early years. This year we awarded
the 101st grant.
Membership fees: The auditing of our accounts between 1986 and
2009 was carried out by Peter Kellaway on an honorary basis. The Foundation
is in his debt. This service was important in enabling the build up of
funds in the pre-bequest era, and enabled the administration expenses
of the Foundation to be met from membership subscriptions until Peter
retired. Since then, due to audit costs, this is no longer the case: subscriptions
(at $25 unchanged since 1988) meet only half the cost. Accordingly the
membership subscription has had to be increased to $30.
3. Impact of the research you have funded.
A. Publications arising from grants: Excluding grants made in
the past 5 years, a total of 64 publications have resulted from
grants. Looking at it another way, over 56% of grants have led to publications,
usually in refereed scientific journals. All
grantees have produced Final Reports, and only 12 of the 82 grants failed
to achieve their objectives.
High profile publication: The most noted publication has to be
that following the grant to Bruce Webber (2002) on Ryparosa
javanica. The publication is: ‘Cassowary frugivory, seed defleshing
and fruit fly infestation influence the transition from
seed to seedling in the rare Australian rainforest tree, Ryparosa
sp. (Achariaceae) by Bruce L. Webber and Ian E. Woodrow in
Functional Plant Biology, 2004, 31: 505-516. This has been cited in scientific
papers 18 times, was commented on in New
Scientist and was also included in a recent BBC TV program on the world
B. Major contribution to new industry: The work by Sandra Lacey
on the grant ‘Investigation of the cultural requirements for the
development of Helichrysum diosmifolium [now Ozothamnus diosmifolius]
(Native Paper Daisy)’ in 1987 laid the basis for the
Rice Flower industry. The grant was for $1,500, but enabled her to collect
the material, and provided the basis for larger grants
from RIRDC to develop it as a cut flower crop. In 1996 500,000 blooms
were exported to Japan. This work possibly helped
trigger the RIRDC to make a major investment in research on native Australian
C. Supporting the development of scientists working on the Australian
flora: Virtually all grants have been directly or
indirectly used to fund young scientists to carry out research on Australian
plants. Most of these people continue in this area, as
is seen by perusing their publications in succeeding years, for example
Ms Elizabeth James was given a grant of $4,050 in 1999 to work on the
breeding systems of Grevillea. No papers came from this project,
but she has gone on to produce four
papers on the genetics of Grevillea, and at least twelve papers
on the genetics of native Australian plants. Bill Loneragan was
given a grant of $2,750 in 1997 for a project on conserving Banksia
woodlands. One publication came from the project, and
he has since published three more papers on Banksia woodlands,
and at least twelve other papers on conservation of
D. Aiding the conservation of Australian plant diversity: A series
of grants has been made for projects examining the sensitivity of seed
germination to the higher temperatures to be expected with global warming,
e.g. Amelia Martyn (2010) with support
from the APS Canberra studied the germination requirements of twenty Australian
alpine species. These studies have identified
species particularly vulnerable to climatic change.
Other grants have examined the threats to particular ecosystems, e.g.
Carolyn Ireland (1992) showed that regeneration of Western Myall (Acacia
papyrocarpa Benth.) requires a combination of a number of relatively
rare events: seed shed coinciding with the co-occurrence of inundation
with its consequent overland sheet flow of water, scarification of seeds
by the tumbling action of soil and water and the burial of the seeds away
from harvester ants.
This President’s Report is getting long, but note that development
of Australian plants for horticultural use has been the subject of forty
four Final Reports, and the role of mycorrhiza in native plants has been
the subject of fifteen. You can find out what these or any of the other
88 Final Reports say by looking them up on the Australian
Flora Foundation’s website: http://www.aff.org.au/
What for the future? Over the next thirty years we will strive to better
communicate with our members and the wider public; to
welcome more members, and to increase our ability to fund grants. We need
your help for this and are currently exploring the potential of social
Finally it is my pleasure to thank all who have been members, donors or
made bequests to the Foundation over the past 30 years. Without you there
would have been no Australian Flora Foundation.
Thanks to three groups which have been critical to the functioning of
the Foundation: the Australian Plants Society, whose members played a
key role in the establishment of the Foundation, and who provide ongoing
support; to members of the Research Committee, past and present, and to
the research workers who have made good and faithful use of the funds
the Foundation has provided.
Particular thanks to those who have done the work of the Foundation: the
members of Council, and particularly members of
the executive over the years. A special thanks to three people who have
made very valuable contributions. Firstly Bill Payne, a major force in
the establishment of the Foundation, and a member of the Council from
1981 till his death in 2005. Secondly: Malcolm Reed, Vice-President from
1988 to 1990, and President from 1991 to 1997. He came to a Foundation
that appeared to be in terminal decline, and left one in a good financial
and functioning state. Finally, Richard Williams, a founder member, Chair
of the Research Committee since its formation and President for eight
In conclusion, my thanks to all present for attending the 30th
AGM of the Australian Flora Foundation, and to Caz McCallum for
enabling us to meet at the Royal Botanic Gardens Mt Annan.
26th November 2012
Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne Victoria
completes the Australian Garden.
By Dr Paddy Lightfoot, AFF Councillor, Life Member of the Australian Plants
Society NSW, and a founding Director and Life Member of the Hunter Wetlands
Red Sand Garden – Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne. Photo: David Lightfoot
On Sunday 21st October I was fortunate to attend the opening celebration
– a Family Day - of the completion of the Australian
Garden at Cranbourne.
This Garden must surely rank as one of the ‘Wonders of Victoria’.
The support and response from Victoria’s public was overwhelming.
The car park rapidly filled and the Cranbourne Racetrack was opened for
parking with a shuttle bus service to ferry visitors to the Gardens.
Which features impressed me?
•The overall scale of the project is overcoming from the massive and
stunning Red Sand Garden to the Weird and Wonderful Garden together with
the superbly designed water features.
•The water features include a seaside garden, an expanse of white
sand lapped by the lake, demonstrating plants the public can grow in coastal
situations. There is an interesting waterlily pad bridge with an associated
explanation of continental drift. There is an area for kids with life saving
flags and notice ‘Paddle between the Flags’ – dozens of
•Demonstrations of streetscapes or promenades (using amazingly large
figs as street trees), different housing type gardens (including backyards),
green walls, water-wise gardens, experimental gardens with differing mulches,
lifestyle gardens, greening cities gardens and Australian plants which can
be grown in pots on patios or verandahs. The list is endless.
Some of the plants in pots Photo: David Lightfoot
Espaliered Eucalyptus gregsoniana Photo: David Lightfoot
There is evidence of interesting experimentation:
•Who amongst we Australian plant lovers has ever thought of espaliering
Eucalypts to keep them at a restricted height or as
•Green walls? With closer suburban living, why have a solid brick
or wooden fence between you and the neighbours? Why not build a metal support
and cover with Australian vines such as Kennedias or Pandoreas? Much more
•Huge rocks, with plants at their bases, have been introduced to demonstrate
those plants existing only at the edge of granite outcrops surviving on
run off from the nocturnal condensation in dry Western Australia.
•Food gardens to promote our Australian bush foods.
•The Weird and Wonderful Garden with mass plantings of some of our
most extraordinary plants. This mass planting of a multitude of species
is in sharp contrast to most Botanic Gardens. They usually feature a couple
or only single plants of
•There is extensive use of mass plantings of cultivars. Remember the
Roses in our gardens at home have been
developed over centuries from an original fairly insignificant specimen
of the Rose family. Cultivars may be the way to the
hearts of future Australian gardeners.
•A Gondwana Garden.
•Various Eucalypt type Gardens – Stringybark, Bloodwood, Peppermint,
Box and Ironbark. They are all there in groups.
•Alongside the Red Sand Garden are a Desert Discovery Camp,
an Arid Garden and a Dry Riverbed Garden.
•Rare and Endangered Garden helps protect our rarities.
This is only a brief description of the wonders of this 21st century creation.
The splendid creation is a credit to the Horticulture and Land Management
staff at the Gardens.
When in Victoria do as the locals do and visit these Gardens. You won’t
regret the day out. Entry is free. Cranbourne is about 45
minutes drive South-east of Melbourne. There is a pleasant café at
the entrance and a kiosk on the far side of the newly opened
section. Surrounding the Gardens is a large buffer of natural bushland with
a walking track to Trig Point Lookout.
Research projects we have recently approved
Two research projects to commence in 2013 were approved for funding
at the August 2012 Council meeting.
One of these grants, for $11,550, was awarded to Mr G. Huang, a PhD candidate
at the University of Western Sydney, for the project titled “Climate
change impacts on genetically differentiated Telopea speciosissima
(NSW Waratah) coastal and upland populations”.
The other grant, for $23,220, was awarded to Mr Edward Tsen, a PhD candidate
at the University of Melbourne, for the project titled “A spatial
genetic study of historic gene flow and demographics of a rare tropical
tree Ryparosa kurrangii”.
In defence of the humble ant, champion
Reproduced from http://theconversation.edu.au/
By Matt Christmas, PhD Student in Ecological Genetics at University of
Andrew Lowe, Professor of Plant Conservation Biology at University of
Ants might be a pain … but they play a vital role
in maintaining the variety of plant life we see around us.
You’d be hard pressed to find many people who
hold ants in high regard. That might be due to
their destructive behaviour towards lawns, their ability to infest your
house in no time at all, or a willingness to provide you with a nasty
formic-acid-filled bite if you inadvertently step on their nest.
But before we write off ants completely, we should give some consideration
to the invaluable work they do for biodiversity.
Several studies in recent years show ants play a key role in seed dispersal
for around 11,000 flowering plant species worldwide. The ants don’t
do this hard work purely out of the goodness of their
hearts – they do it for a reward. That reward is a nutrient-rich
appendage attached to the seed, known as an elaiosome (see image
below), which the ants feed to their larvae.
Bloodroot seeds with elaiosomes (the gelatinous, white-speckled part)
The benefits to the plant come when the elaiosome has been removed and
the seed is discarded among the fertile waste around the ant nest, which
provides perfect growing conditions.
Mutualistic relationships between ants and their flowering plant counterparts
appear to have evolved independently more than 100 times, with the elaiosome
being an excellent example of convergent evolution– that is, different
species evolving similar traits or characteristics independently of each
The 2009 study mentioned above – by biologist Szabolcs Lengyel and
colleagues – sheds light on the significance of this mutualistic
relationship in terms of the diversification of flowering plant species
(it is estimated there are roughly 300,000 flowering plant species on
Seed dispersal is vital to the connectivity of plant populations –
the greater the distance a seed can be dispersed, the greater the level
of connectedness between populations. But ants only transport seeds over
very short distances – up to 200m but usually only over 1-2m. Therefore,
any plant relying on ants to disperse its seed will be limited in its
ability to spread out over large distances. This limited dispersal distance
will lead to geographically isolated populations – the perfect conditions
for diversification and speciation.
Indeed, the 2009 study found that flowering plant groups that were ant-dispersed
contained more than twice the number of species than closely related species
that did not rely on ants for seed dispersal. By dispersing seeds only
over short distances, ants have directly assisted in increasing the global
diversity of plants.
So, ants have a significant impact when it comes to the diversification
of flowering plants. And, with ants outnumbering humans by roughly 1.4
million to one, we shouldn’t be too hasty in writing them off as
a pest. Without ants, the world would lack a lot of the floral beauty
we see around us today.
Grevillea and Hakea - one genus or two?
By Peter Olde, leader of the Grevillea Study Group
and a joint author of The Grevillea Book.
Peter Olde took the above subject for his talk to the Australian Plants
Society NSW meeting at Ermington recently.
Peter discussed the basis of many of the name changes in recent years,
pointing out that species are an evolutionary unit and that each has its
place on the tree of life. In order that this is accomplished, botanists
now resort to more information than can be
found in the visible characteristics of a plant.
The important science of genetics provides the
tools which are applied to the molecular analysis of a plant’s DNA.
Millions of bits of seemingly insignificant pieces are analysed. What
the analysis reveals is not always what we want to hear. The characters
on which we previously relied to distinguish our genera may not be as
important as we once thought, as they cannot always explain what the DNA
is telling us.
A recent analysis of 5 informative genes from a large sample of Grevillea
and Hakea species has revealed that Grevillea is
paraphyletic with respect to Hakea. Hakea is nested
within some species that have previously been called Grevillea.
Unfortunately, the results of all molecular analyses have to be interpreted.
What this means is that either Grevillea will have to be split
up or merged with Hakea. If it is merged, then Grevillea
(Hakea was named first and has priority in the nomenclature).
An alternative interpretation will see Grevillea split and both
genera retained, with additional genera recognised mainly in Western Australia.
One result of the second alternative is that there could be two
genera in the Sydney region, one taking in the toothbrush species, the
‘true’ Grevilleas, (e.g. Grevillea longifolia) and
another taking in the spider Grevilleas (e.g. Grevillea sericea).
All the Hakeas would remain.
Grevillea sericea Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The Australian Flora Foundation is a not-for-profit organization
with the sole objective of fostering scientific research into Australia’s
flora. We are totally independent, and all office bearers are volunteers.
The Council (governing body):
• Dr Peter Goodwin (President)
• Professor Richard Williams (Vice President)
• Associate Professor E. Charles Morris (Vice President)
• Mr Ian Cox (Secretary)
• Dr Jenny Jobling (Treasurer)
• Dr Tina Bell
• Associate Professor Michelle Leishman
• Dr Paddy Lightfoot
• Dr David Murray
• Mr Ross Smyth-Kirk
The Scientific Committee:
• Professor Richard Williams (University of Queensland) - Chair
• Professor Kingsley Dixon (Kings Park & Botanic Gardens, WA)
• Associate Professor Betsy Jackes (James Cook University)
• Associate Professor Peter McGee (University of Sydney)
• Dr Trevor Whiffin (LaTrobe University)
Peter Goodwin (President) firstname.lastname@example.org
Ian Cox (Secretary) email@example.com
Flora Foundation Inc.
ABN 14 758 725 506
Dulwich Hill NSW 2203