The NACC NRM region is richly diverse in Myrtaceae species, in fact, it is believed to be second highest diversity anywhere in the world – with even more species potentially waiting to be discovered.
To help shine some light on this diversity, in April NACC NRM, the Department of Biodiversity, Conservations and Attractions (DBCA) and the Geraldton Regional Herbarium collaborated to hold an identification workshop focussing on small flowered Myrtaceae from the tribe Chamelaucieae.
Fourteen budding botanists attended the two day workshop, which was conducted by Perth based taxonomic botanists Rob Davis and Mike Hislop – both from the Western Australian Herbarium.
Small flowered Myrtaceae are notoriously difficult to identify and are known collectively in botanical circles as STABMs, which is an acronym for Scholtzia, Thryptomene, Astartea, Baeckea and Malleostemon.
When asked what plant is this? STABM may well be the answer from botanists in the field.
Identification of these plants requires a microscope to view the distinguishing features and an electronic key created by Barbara Rye is used to then translate these features to species level. These features include: the shape of the anthers, a hairy style, a brain-like or rugose hypanthium and many more fascinating and unique characters.
President of the Geraldton Regional Herbarium, Julie Firth, commented that the workshop was a great interactive day with lots of practice time in both microscope dissection and plant terminology.
“We were lucky to have two extremely skilled, passionate taxonomists – Rob and Mike – from the WA Herbarium to share their knowledge with us.”
Miss Firth added “I think that I always know when I have been to a good plant identification workshop by how many days afterwards it is that I continue to obsess with the sexual parts of plants.”
Conservation Officer (Flora) with DBCA Alanna Chant helped organise the workshop and said ‘It’s fantastic to look forward to Spring, feeling like we can now have a go at identifying these plants that have always been such a mystery. I really can’t wait!’
The workshop was supported by NACC NRM and the DBCA through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program and the Western Australian Government’s State NRM Program.