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Net Watch...choice selections on the 'net

The Internet is growing daily and it's impossible for anyone to keep up to date on topics of interest. "Net Watch" aims to report those sites that you, as a grower, propagator or appreciator of Australian plants, might find interesting. If you know of a site that should be mentioned here, please let us know. Sites don't have to be specifically about Australian plants; general gardening, conservation and scientific sites will be considered. In fact, if you come across a site which is not even remotely connected with plants at all but which is so good that you just have to tell us about it....we'll think about it!

Some of the following have already been listed on the SGAP home page ("Internet Resources") but they can stand being mentioned again with a little more detail.

The Living World

Australian National Botanic Gardens

This site is significant in being the first Botanic Garden in the world to have a home page on the Web. It has developed into a substantial site with comprehensive details of its own programmes and facilities and numerous links to related sites both within Australia and overseas. This site should be the first destination (after the SGAP page of course!) for anyone wishing to "surf the net" with Australian plants and general horticulture/botany as major interests.

Some of the gems found or linked here are:

  • Grevillea wilkinsonii. This describes a new Grevillea species discovered near Tumut in southern New South Wales. The site includes a line diagram and the text of a paper by R.Makinson which was published in the journal of the NSW Royal Botanic Gardens ("Telopea") in April 1993.
  • In Flower this Week; a summary of interest to those planning a visit to the Gardens.
  • A guide to the genus Acacia, including descriptions and photographs of 100 species.
  • Aboriginal use of plants, including descriptions of the uses of 36 species.
  • A photographic database. The Gardens has built up an extensive slide collection over the years. The site allows users to search the database for species of interest. It is possible to purchase duplicate slides at a reasonable cost.

A Living Fossil

In December 1994 a National Parks and Wildlife Service Ranger came across a tree that he had never seen before in a an isolated location in the Wollomi National Park, about 200km from Australia's largest city, Sydney. Subsequent botanical investigations showed that the tree is so distinctive that it represents a new genus and must have been an evolutionary line distinct from any other surviving plant group for at least 65 million years.

The tree has become known as the "Wollomi Pine" and information can be found at several web sites. Try the Royal Botanic Gardens site for a photograph, line diagram, the most up to date details and information on attempts to propagate the plant. An earlier site which also provides a line diagram and Media Releases is also worth a look.

Texas Wildflowers

Now we shouldn't be parochial. Our focus may be Australian plants but that doesn't mean we can't appreciate other floras.

Sorry to disappoint the residents of Texas, southern Queensland...this site deals with the flora of that other, less well-known Texas :-). It may no longer be the largest state in the Union, but Texas has a substantial collection of native flowering plants...over 5000. Obviously they aren't all on display here!

The site is well laid out with plants grouped alphabetically and with something like 2 to 6 species in each group. Photos, while small, are clear and the captions provide a little bit more information than just the plant names. Did you know that "Early settlers used [Coreopsis tinctoria] in their mattresses to ward away ticks and fleas"? Well, now you do!

Innovative features of the site are the distribution maps which are colour coded and linked to the individual plant photos. The maps are only very basic but enable the user to visualise approximately the extent of the distribution of each species.

Thanks to Beth Matney (Arkansas) for the copy of her extensive bookmark list where this link was found.

Gum Trees, Gum Trees and More Gum Trees

If you're interested in the natural history of Eucalypts, you'll want to take a look here!

The Flora of Australia will comprise a series of approximately 60 volumes and will describe all the native and naturalised plants found in Australia and its Territories. The first Volume was issued in 1981 and it is expected that the project will take about 20 years to complete.

Volume 19 of the Flora comprises part of the Myrtaceae which includes the genus Eucalyptus and its close relative, Angophora. These sites contain descriptions of all the species in the two genera that have been included in the Flora. But there are more than just descriptions. Select a species of interest and you can view a distribution map and if you click on part of the distribution area you can view details of the collections on which the distributions are based.

The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life is an ambitious project aimed mainly at biologists but, as it develops, will undoubtedly be referred to by anyone interested in the natural world, particularly teachers and students. It will provide a means of accessing biological information through linked "trees" of related groups of organisms. There are some 940 pages in the Tree at present but many are still "under construction".

The project has been underway for little more than twelve months but there are sufficient pages of information to enable the user to gain an appreciation of how the system operates. The best approach for a new visitor to the site is to access the "Commonly Accessed Organisms" and the "Sample" pages. At this stage there is little detailed information on the plant world but the sheer scope of the project makes the site worth a visit.

No Plants...But Worth Checking!

Guide to Australia

The Guide to Australia project aims to eventually become a comprehensive virtual encyclopaedia of Australian on-line information. Already there is a wealth of information here including:

  • A Guide to all Australian States and Territories.
  • Australian Culture (music, art, aboriginal art, National Library).
  • Tourism and Travel, including National Parks, bushwalking, airline and railway timetables.
  • Government and History.
  • Communications (internet, mail, telephone, television, newspapers, radio).
  • Environment (weather, flora, fauna, Greenpeace).
  • Geography, including maps, oceanography, Antarctica.

The Outer Limits

The advances in optical astronomy since the Hubble Space Telescope received it's prescription spectacles a couple of year ago have been remarkable. Some of the more spectacular images have appeared on our television screens but many of the significant findings of the space telescope programme are released to the internet at the same time as the media finds out about them.

The Hubble Space Telescope Public Pictures site contains some of the most spectacular space photographs ever taken together with text summaries which explain the significance of the findings in easily understood terms. Some of the pictures presented in early 1996 were:

  • Myriad galaxies back to the beginning of time; several hundred never-before seen galaxies in a speck of the sky ("1/30th of the diameter of the full moon).
  • Searchlight beams and multiple arcs around a dying star; the image of the Egg Nebula shows a pair of beams emerging from a hidden star.
  • Hourglass nebula around a dying star; an intricate pattern of "etchings" in the stellar matter surrounding the star.
The photographs are presented in both gif and jpg formats and high resolution jpg images are also available for a month or so after release from the ftp site: ftp.stsci.edu.in/pubinfo in the directory hrtemp.

Off the Planet!

G'day Pie-eaters!

What is a Pie??

  • "A baked food composed of a shell of pastry that is filled with fruit, meat, cheese, or other ingredients, and usually covered with a pastry crust.
  • A layer cake having cream, custard, or jelly filling.
  • A whole that can be shared: "That would . . . enlarge the economic pie by making the most productive use of every investment dollar" (New York Times)."
Now didn't you want to know that???? That's what I thought!

Before the internationalisation of fast food that brought us KFC, Maccas, Pizza Hut and the rest, the uncrowned king of Australian fast foods was the humble meat pie. That's not to say that it's disappeared...far from it. Countless thousands are sold at all sporting events where the sight of people chomping on a pastry encrusted concoction (the obligatory dollop of tomato sauce on top) with gravy dripping down their chins, is a far too common experience.

Anyway, the above definitions come from the Pie of the Day page. Here is a celebration of the pie. It's no good asking why...it's here so just enjoy it. You can find out such invaluable information as:

  • The history of the word "Pie"
  • All about "pi" (as in mathematics...well, why not?)
  • All about "Py-thagorus" (OK, so this is stretching things a bit!)
  • Pie Quotes (would you determine the US Presidency with a pie-eating contest? Then again.....)
  • Pie Recipes (The Farmer's Pie is my favourite)
  • Pie Links
Oh, yes..there's a "Pie of the Day". A regularly changing photograph brings you a visual extravaganza of pies of all shapes and sizes.

But you'll have to excuse me now. I've got to get my lunch out of the oven. Pie and peas, what else?

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