2017 August Winning Picture

The following article  appeared in the Native Orchid Society of South Australia Journal September 2017 Volume 41 Number 8. It is a longer and expanded version of the article as  George Bentham was one of most influential botanists of the 19th century making it difficult to summarize his life. Even this article barely scratches the surface of this most interesting man.

The theme for the August competition was Striped or Blotched orchids.

1708 JF Thelymitra benthamiana cr

Blotches or stripes, which one? An interesting collection was entered. Representing the stripes were John Fennell’s Dipodium pardalinum, Shane Grave’s Cyrtostylis robusta labellum, Helen Lawrence’s Thelymitra cyanea, Robert Lawrence’s Diplodium dolichochilum and Lorraine Badger’s T. campanulata. There were less blotches; Ricky Egel’s Diuris pardina and John Fennell’s T. benthamiana.

T. benthamiana (Leopard Sun Orchid) is a popular orchid to photograph and it is not surprising that it is again (see April 2016) a winner in our competition. It was named after the Englishman George Bentham (1800 – 1884) one of the foremost and influential systemic botanists of the 19th century. At about the age of 16 or 17 years he was introduced to botany, and despite training as a lawyer, he devoted his life to the study of botany.

Though never visiting Australia, he produced the world’s first completed continental flora, Flora Australiensis, a seven volume work produced over 15 years (1863 – 1878). As monumental as this was, at the same time he was working on his greatest work, co-authored with Joseph Dalton Hooker, Genera Plantarum (1862 – 1883) in which is introduced the Bentham & Hooker system of plant classification. This system is still in use by many herbaria around the world. It involved the study of actual plant specimens, a practice which Bentham used himself. For instance, in the production Flora Australiensis, he would examine, critique and describe over a 1,000 species each year.

This practice harkens back to his early days when in his Flora of the French Pyrenees (1826) he adopted the practice of citing nothing second-hand. He never deviated from this. It did help that he was able to read in fourteen modern European languages plus having a good command of Latin, the language used for many botanical writings. This enabled him to access original material which he did by visiting every European herbarium when preparing for his first major work Labiatarum Genera et Species (1832 – 1836).

A shy and unassuming man, Bentham had the respect of the botanical world as was reflected in the various awards he received. Described as a genius, [a man of] indefatigable industry, the premier systematic botanist, he considered himself an amateur botanist, never a professional, even though he donated his extensive collection of more than 1,000 specimens to Kew Gardens in 1854 where he worked full time until his death in 1884. Bentham lived in, and contributed to, the transitional period from the dominance of the gentleman botanist to the government being responsible for collections of national and scientific significance.

He was responsible for introducing into orchid taxonomy (1881) a new classification recognising Subtribes, which precedes Genus in the classification system; introduced the word ‘orchidologist’ to the world in his Notes on Orchideae, 1881. Although there is only one Australian orchid named after Bentham, he has a whole genus of 29 species named after him: Benthamia which is endemic to Madagascar, Mauritius and Reunion. Worldwide, Bentham was directly involved in naming over 200 orchid taxa.

Thanks to Greg Steenbeeke for critiquing this article.

Reference

N. T. Burbidge, ‘Bentham, George (1800–1884)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/bentham-george-2979/text4345 , published first in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 29 August 2017.

George Bentham Retrieved August 31, 2017 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Bentham

The Taxonomy of the Orchidaceae Retrieved 31 August 2017 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxonomy_of_the_Orchidaceae

Bentham, George (DNB00). (2012, December 29). In Wikisource. Retrieved August 31, 2017, from https://en.wikisource.org/w/index.php?title=Bentham,_George_(DNB00)&oldid=4211195

Bentham and Hooker system of Classification. Accessed August 31, 2017 from http://vle.du.ac.in/mod/book/print.php?id=13270&chapterid=29150

Notes on Orchidaea (Journal of the Linnean Society)

English Oxford Living Dictionary. Accessed 31 August, 2017 from https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/orchidologist

 

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The Grace and Charm of Fitzgerald’s Orchids

Orchids have fascinated people over the generations.  Robert Fitzgerald was one of them.  He had a lasting influence upon Australian orchids.  This extract from the Brisbane Courier Saturday 27 September 1930 Page 20 gives a brief biography of him.  The author of the article is Estelle Thomson.

 

Original article from the Brisbane Courier, Saturday 27 September 1930

Original article from the Brisbane Courier, Saturday 27 September 1930

Great Australian Botanists

III. – R. D. FITZGERALD

In 1830 Robert Desmond Fitzgerald was born at Tralee, in Ireland.  When he was a young man of about 26 he came to Sydney and entered the surveyor-General’s office as a draughtsman; he became Deputy Surveyor-General, and held that post till he retired in 1887 to devote the rest of his life to his great work, the study of Australian orchids.  He travelled all over the Commonwealth and made innumerable drawings and paintings of orchids.  He drew always from the living plant (rather an exception in his day when the dried specimen was often used, even when fresh plants were available), and his drawings have grace and charm and also an unmistakable individual style.

His work was published in several huge folio volumes, called “Australian Orchids,” and in these he figures and describes over 200 species.  As well as making the original drawing in colour, he made the lithographic plates for a number of the reproductions.

He kept no dried specimens, and so left no herbarium on his death (at Hunter’s Hill, Sydney, in 1892), and this is to be regretted, as he described and named a number of new species, and the type (the original specimen) not being available it is sometimes difficult to determine whether other specimens are true to this type, or variations, or actually different species.

An 1888 reprint of one of his many prints. The species featured are Caleana major (Flying Duck Orchid) and Paracaleana minor (Little Duck Orchid)

An 1888 reprint of one of his many prints. The species featured are Caleana major (Flying Duck Orchid) and Paracaleana minor (Little Duck Orchid)

 

Vale: Enid Robertson 1925 – 2016

This week saw the passing of Adelaide botanist and conservationist, Enid Robertson.

Over the years Enid was associated with the Native Orchid Society of South Australia (NOSSA) both as a speaker and leader of field trips. A notable contribution to NOSSA was to alert the Society in 1989 about the invasion of the South African weed, Monadenia bracteata (Syn Disa bracteata).  In 1990, she was involved in a Monadenia bracteata eradication campaign.

Reproduced below is an article written by Enid published in the Native Orchid Society of South Australia Journal, Vol 15 No 8 September 1991

Monadenia bracteata
THAT AFRICAN WEED ORCHID AGAIN
Enid Robertson
I heartily endorse “C.H’s” sentiments in the article “If it is meant to be …” in the August issue of NOSSA Journal (Vol. 15, No.7) in which was said, “By removing these weeds from the areas of least infestation when out on our walks and as an ongoing project, we can all help keep our scrub in the beautiful way it is supposed to be.” This encourages me to bring our latest horror species to your attention yet again.

That weed-orchid, Monadenia bracteata, will be emerging from tubers late September and early October. Let’s literally nip it in the bud.  Total eradication (not just control) is required.  It would be a terrific achievement if we could prevent this latest African invader from taking over. Last year 100’s of plants were removed and destroyed before seed set.

Further vigilance and action is required this Spring. More help will be needed to monitor every locality where plants have been previously found and to remove any plants that
sprout from tubers remaining in the soil.

This weed-orchid is yet another exotic plant to invade our diminishing remnant native vegetation. It is occupying space that belongs to Australia’s already threatened little understorey plants. As the weed-orchid produces thousands of tiny wind-borne seeds each season new infestations could occur some distance from known sites. It favours grasslands and woodlands, particularly disturbed areas, not dense sclerophyll bushland. However it has been found infiltrating into sclerophyll scrub from disturbed borders and along firetracks.

Since first recorded in South Australia in 1988 the weed-orchid has been reported from Aldgate, Belair (including Belair National Park), Blackwood, Bridgewater, Chandlers
Hill, Cherry Gardens, Coromandel Valley, Craigburn Farm, Echunga, Eden Hills, Onkaparinga Recreation Park, Panorama, Scott Creek Conservation Park, Shepherds Hill Recreation Park, Sturt Gorge and three localities north of Adelaide: One Tree Hill, Mt Gawler and Mt Crawford Forest.

What is it like? It has a rosette of long narrow green leaves, often with a reddish tinge on the underside, which appear from the underground tuber in Spring (about October).

The flower spike is 15-30 cm tall and is clothed all up its stem with a series of overlapping narrow green leaves. It has up to 50 tiny flowers, brown to maroon in colour.  The flowers are self-pollinating and produce prodigious quantities of dust-like seed.

Seedling Monadenia bracteata plants do not flower in the first year. It probably takes two to three years from seed before a plant produces a flower spike. It is, therefore, very important to search carefully for young plants in areas of known infestation. By mid-October new plants will be showing up and the 1991/92 campaign should begin. The whole plant, tuber and all, must be removed and destroyed.

Please, give your name and contact telephone number to the NOSSA Secretary if you can help. You will be notified of the locality where your help is most need.

Or contact me direct – Enid Robertson (She supplied her phone number at that time).

Disa bracteata - weed

Leaves of Disa bracteata

Disa bracteata RWL

A flowering plant of Disa bracteata

Sadly, eradication is no longer an option, whereas it appeared to be in 1991 when Enid wrote about it.

Gleanings From The Journals: Who Was Our First Conservation Officer?

As the following article indicates there is much to be learnt from the old journals so much so that from time to time there will be a series of posts titled Gleanings from the Journals.

This first of the series was taken from Volume 36 No 10, November 2012 Journal of the Native Orchid of South Australia.

WHO WAS OUR FIRST CONSERVATION OFFICER?

Recently I’ve been looking over the old NOSSA Journals. I like (my husband says addictive!) reading history and even more reading original source material, so it’s not surprising that I’ve enjoyed this activity. There are some lovely gems in them. I like to read about the people, which brings me to the title of this article – Who was our first Conservation Officer?

Well if you ask Thelma Bridle, she’ll say that it was Karen Possingham but when I read in the April 1984 edition, I see that Margaret Fuller is said to be “the initiator of the Conservation Group” back in 1982. Margaret had a long involvement with the Bird Care and Conservation Group. She headed the NOSSA group who collaborated with the Education Department to produce Pic-a-Pac, an orchid teaching package for the schools.

Yet was Margaret the first? For I then read of two foundational members. Roy Hargreaves who is described as a “keen conservationist, ambassador and liaison person with numerous groups including SGAP, OCSA, Parks and Wildlife, the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, Black Hill Flora Research Centre, … an initiator of the R. S. Rogers Orchid House.” The other is Ron Robjohns who “drafted the Society’s Constitution and By-laws and formulated the Society’s Conservation Policy.” But ….. there is a third contender amongst the founding members – Peter Hornsby, the Society’s first editor and an organiser of field trips. Peter was always putting articles in the Journals relating to conservation. A keen conservationist and current member, he resigned his role as editor in 1981 to “concentrate on his study of the behaviour of the Yellow-footed Rock Wallaby in the North Flinders Ranges.” And yet we could continue for there were other foundational members who took a keen interest in conservation.

So who was our first Conservation Officer? Well, Thelma is right. It was Karen Possingham. She was the first one to have the title Conservation Officer when she was appointed to the role in March 1992 – fifteen years after the founding of the Society, and remained in that role until May 1997 when she became a councillor with the Burnside City Council. Karen formalised many activities, organizing bi-monthly meetings, Conservation Booths at the various NOSSA shows, lobbying, weeding, etc

Below is her report of their first meeting.

CONSERVATION GROUP PRIORITIES SET                                       K. Possingham

The first meeting of the 1992 NOSSA Orchid Conservation Sub-Committee was held on Wednesday 15th April. The following priorities were set at the meeting:

1) Lobby politicians; resolution to write letters to the Minister of the Environment, to National Parks and Wildlife, Department of Environmental Planning, Woods and Forests and Leaders of the Opposition Parties, and request a meeting in July to discuss Orchid Conservation strategy.

Liaise with other Conservation groups such as the Conservation Council; join at first as an Association Member and find out about South Australia’s conservation concerns and needs.

3) Monitor Hills Zone development; – liaise with Mt. Lofty Ranges Conservation Association.

4) Prioritise high risk sites that are not managed properly and in danger of clearance, habitat degradation etc.

5) In short term adopt a Reserve such as Belair National Park in order to monitor known Orchid populations, raise Society profile and provide assistance in weeding and other such requirements. This will provide conservation experience for members. There is easy access to Belair from Adelaide and the park and conservation activities should appeal to younger members as well as older members: we’ll be doing something concrete!

6) Possibility to apply for funding from Endangered Species Program, World Wildlife Fund and Save the Bush, to work on endangered orchids.

7) Education: area at Warrawong to be fenced off from animals for native orchids to be established and protected.

Meetings are to be held bi-monthly: Next meeting will be held on Wednesday, 10th June at 8

P.M. Anyone is welcome. Enquiries Karen Possingham, Conservation Officer, ph 364 0671.

Karen remained involved with the Conservation Group until the family moved to Queensland in 2000 where her husband Hugh took a chair in the departments of Mathematics and Biological Sciences at the University of Queensland. Prior to leaving Adelaide, Hugh had been President of the Nature Conservation Council, Professor of Environmental Science and Management at Adelaide University and instrumental in initiating biodiversity planning in South Australia. Hugh has made various trips back to Adelaide will be back here on 27th November to talk about Citizen Science prior to the Uni SA and ABC 891 Great Koala Count the next day.

I have wandered a bit from Karen as NOSSA’s first Conservation Officer but from what I can see in reading the Journals Hugh and Karen worked together in conservation and though no longer in South Australia are still actively involved in conservation. The objectives of that first meeting Karen left with NOSSA and continues to this day, albeit with changes to adapt to current issues and thinking.

Australian Orchids & the Doctors they Commemorate Part 20 of 20

 This series ends with Dr John Pearn’s summary below.

Enduring memorials

Scientific names of living things will be used as long as scientists find it useful to do so. Names change as taxonomists revise plant groupings and there is a proposal to dispense with scientific names, in favour of an alternative system called the PhyloCode.

In the past, the doctrine of signatures linked the forms of plants with their supposed therapeutic uses. But the world of binomial nomenclature (which Linnaeus introduced in 1753), allows for the most fitting memorials in medicine and botany. In the scientific names of Australian orchids, the lives of many doctors and botanists endure.

Though this series has been divided into 20 parts, it does not cover the whole of his original article which can be viewed here and downloaded as a pdf.

Remembering Bill Murdoch

On the eve of the  100th anniversary of ANZAC Day, this week’s post is taken from the NOSSA Journal April 2015 Vol. 39 No. 3.   The article is by Lorraine Badger.

William Hugh Murdoch, Anzac Veteran
17 September, 1885 – 24 July 1989

William Hugh Murdoch, known as Bill, was born at Poowong in Victoria’s Gippsland*.  Later in life he became an orchid grower, eventually becoming co-founder of the Australian Native Orchid Society (ANOS), after sending out letters in 1962, suggesting the formation of a Society, to fellow Native Orchid Growers.  

However, it is not for that reason alone, that we remember him in this journal.  This month  is the hundred year anniversary of the first battle of our new country, at Gallipoli.  Following several weeks training in Egypt, William landed at ANZAC Cove with the 17th battalion on 16  August**, just four months after the initial landing.   The battalion was mainly responsible for the defence of Quinn’s Post***. 

Conditions on the  Dardanelles peninsular ‘defy description.’  Water was scarce.  Food rations were limited to mainly bully beef and hard tack biscuits.  ‘The terrain and close fighting did not allow for the dead to be buried.  Flies and other vermin flourished in the heat, which caused epidemic sickness’****.  Under these conditions William, amongst dozens of men, contracted Enteric Fever, better known as Typhoid Fever, just three months after his arrival.  He was sent by hospital ship, SS Nevasa (sic), to Alexandria back in Egypt before being sent to the  Australian hospital in Helios on the outskirts of Cairo and then the Enteric Convalescent Camp in Port Said.

On 21 January 1916 he was declared fit to travel and was repatriated to Australia for three months of rehabilitation, leaving Pt Said on the Suez, via the  MAT Commonwealth.  Almost nine months later he returned to join his battalion, first disembarking in England.  Four days before Christmas Day in 1916, he left the UK to join his battalion which had returned to Etaples, France following a spell in a quieter sector of the front in Belgium following the battalion’s first major battle at Pozières between 25 July and 5 August.  In their new location they manned the front through a very bleak winter and William was again needed hospitalisation on several occasions for frostbite, diarrhoea, being wounded in action and finally Trench Fever a few weeks prior to armistice in 1918. He embarked for Australia in March 1916 reaching Australia in May where he was discharged.

Again when WWII commenced William re-joined the Army and was involved in training and later as ‘Voyage Only Officer’.

Bill Murdoch Trophy
Bill is also remembered by ANOS through the Australia wide, Bill Murdoch Trophy for Champion Australian Native Orchid Species of the Year.  It is not often that a South Australian wins this prestigious award but Kris Kopicki has become the latest recipient for his winning entry, Caladenia discoidea, in the NOSSA 2014 Spring Show.

This picture was taken in 2013, in 2014 it was the winner of the Bill Murdoch Trophy

Caladenia discoidea (Bee Orchid or Dancing Orchid).  This picture was taken of the 2014 winning plant in 2013.  Congratulations Kris for growing a winner!

References

*Birthdate gleaned from: http://www.irabutlertrophy.org/WRMurdoch.htm  However, on his enlistment papers of 2 February 1915 it states that he was  aged  19  years  and  4  months  –  which  would  suggest  he was born about October 1895.

**Taken from his  Army records  in the Australian Archives and
online at http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/

***The 17th Battalion https://www.awm.gov.au/unit/U51457/

****Gallipoli http://www.1914-1918.net/Gallipoli.htm

Australian Orchids & the Doctors they Commemorate Part 18 of 20

Colin Ledward (1903 – 1963)

A general medical practitioner of Cloncurry and Canungra (Queensland); the orchid that bears his name was collected from a single colony discovered in 1934 and is now almost certainly extinct.

Orchid

Acianthus fornicatus (= Acianthus ledwardii)

Australian Orchids & the Doctors they Commemorate Part 19 of 20

Arthur George Harrold (1918 – 2012)

A navy surgeon who later worked as general medical practitioner, ecologist and conservationist in Noosa (Queensland), and graduate of the University of Cambridge; he formed the Noosa Parks Association in 1962 and helped establish the Cooloola National Park.

Orchid

Habenaria harroldii

Named in recent years, so there is only general information on the genus, Habenaria

Australian Orchids & the Doctors they Commemorate Part 17 of 20

Hugo Flecker (1884 – 1957)

A pioneer Australian radiotherapist, radiologist, general medical practitioner and toxicologist of Cairns (Queensland) who dug his own radioactive ore at Radium Hill (South Australia), a medical graduate from the University of Sydney, and a natural historian; his life and works are commemorated by the Flecker Botanic Gardens in Cairns.

Orchids

Cestichis fleckeri (= Liparis fleckeri) Slender Sphinx Orchid

Thelychiton fleckeri (= Dendrobium fleckeri) Apricot Cane Orchid

Australian Orchids & the Doctors They Commemorate Part 16 of 20

Hereward Leighton Kesteven (1881 – 1964)

A general medical practitioner, medical scientist, zoologist, pioneer of industrial medicine in Australia, and national medical director of the Allied Works Council during World War II.

Orchids

Dendrobium kestevenii  is the name applied to the hybrid between D. speciosum subsp. speciosum and D. kingianum