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Net Watch...choice selections on the 'net
"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!
The Living World
The Rooting Database
....er, how do I begin?
Those of you who are easily shocked or offended had best skip the next couple of paragraphs....because some "plain speaking" is going to be necessary lest anyone get the wrong impression.
The Rooting Database is not, I repeat NOT, the ultimate online manual of sexual practices!
Now, if you are wondering what on earth I am talking about, you undoubtedly reside in a part of the globe where the word "root" has retained its innocence. There are places, however, where the phrase "go and get rooted" is not normally directed at a glasshouse full of cuttings. The term has more to do with human... er... interaction.
So, those of you who are, even now, rolling around on the floor racked with mirth....get a grip...oops, sorry! Pull yourselves together...er...control yourselves! If you find the title of this site so amusing, I wonder what you would make of the genealogical mailing list "ROOTS-L" where some of the participants refer to themselves as "rooters"!)
Anyway, the Rooting Database is a listing of plant propagation information for around 800 plant species and cultivars and, although maintained by the University of California, it includes a reasonable number of Australian plants. The plants are presented alphabetically; after a letter is selected, a list of plants starting with that letter is presented. Choosing a plant from the list brings up a summary similar to that below for Grevillea X gaudichaudi, a natural hybrid which occurs in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney and which is a popular plant in cultivation.
|Name||Grevillea X gaudichaudi
|Medium||peat + perlite + sand
|Auxin||IBA + NAA, 1000 ppm each
|Time to root||6 weeks
|Reference||Ellyard, R.K. 1976. Proc. IPPS 26:395-401
The database promises to be a very useful resource for both amateur and professional horticulturists. It already includes some unexpected Australian species; Hakea constablei, for example, is a very rare species not often seen in cultivation, and those who have despaired over attempts to propagate Persoonia chamaepitys will be gnashing their teeth over the results presented here.
Nuts to You!
The Macadamia nut is the most successful food plant that has so far come out of Australia. For many years its commercial potential was recognised and developed elsewhere, so much so that many people still think that the plant is native to Hawaii.
The local industry, however, has grown considerably in the last 10-20 years and the Australian Macadamia Society has taken a leading role in the introduction of quality assurance programmes into the industry.
Here you can find out about:
- Macadamia - the tree and its environment
- The Product
- Health Aspects
Native Plants of California
The California Native Plant Society (CNPS) is a non-profit organisation of amateurs and professionals with a common interest in California's native plants. In some ways the CNPS is similar in its aims and activities to SGAP. The CNPS has a number of Chapters located throughout the state whose activities include monthly meetings, guest speakers, field trips and native plant sales and wildflower shows.
This is a fairly extensive site containing information about the Society's publications and its educational programmes which include preparing local plant lists, supporting establishment of protected reserves for native plants, monitoring and reducing the spread of invasive non-native species and providing expert testimony on plants.
An important part of the Society's work has been its Rare Plant and Plant Communities Programmes. The site includes a number of documents about the ecology and conservation of California's rare flora. Among the invasive exotic flora listed can be found (regrettably) some Australian species.
The site also includes a "Weird Botanic Plant Part Names Quiz on Leaves"....you'll have to take a look to find out what it's all about!
The aborigines have lived off the land for thousands of years but it's only in the last decade or so that non-aboriginal people have realised that the Australian flora contains many species which can provide food. This has stimulated an interest in the unusual flavours of "Bush Tucker". In most cases, wide scale commercial development of the plants is some years away and will depend on breeding, selection and cultivation under plantation conditions.
The Witjuti - Original Australian Bush Tucker page provides informative notes on bush fruits, herbs, spices, vegetables, seeds and nuts compiled by Vic Cherikoff, an experienced researcher and promoter of Australian bush foods. Read about the delights of Bush Oranges, Kakadu Plums, Quandongs, Wild Limes, Aniseed Myrtle, Warrigal Greens and many others.
A mail order service is available and a wide range of bush products can be purchased, including a what is claimed to be "the favourite drink of the Rolling Stones, consumed at the gala party during their Melbourne tour". This brew is described as "uniquely Australian" and few would argue as it apparently "contains a large WITJUTI GRUB (ranging in size from 10 to 13cm) which has been purged, stabilised and infused into a blend of Australian sherries and brandy". For the uninitiated, "witjuti grubs" are large, fleshy, white larvae found mainly on the roots and stems of some Acacia species. They are reported to be delicious!
The Man in the 'at!
Les 'iddins is the "Bush Tucker Man" of the ABC television series of the same name. An expert in survival in remote parts of Australia, Les explains to viewers in 'is idiosyncratic (and, it must be said, 'ighly entertaining) manner, 'ow to get a meal from the most unlikely looking vegetation while evading crocodiles, green ants and other assorted nasties.
And then there's the 'at! Probably more distinctive than the man 'imself, it's a standard felt bush 'at with an...er...unusual crown. Les refers to it as "The Bash", and few would argue.
Les 'iddins' first "Bush Tucker Man" programme went to air in 1988 and the third series commenced on ABC television in June, 1996. So 'e certainly couldn't be accused of cashing in on 'is popularity, preferring to wait until 'e can be sure that a new series 'ad been thought out and prepared thoroughly.
The Bush Tucker Man 'ome Page is an unofficial site but it does 'ave official blessing. Somewhat surprisingly, the site is run by a Canadian, James Dawe, and 'ere you can expect to find out about Les (in 'is own words), view pictures from the show and 'ear the Bush Tucker Man theme! And, of course, you can view the 'at!
So what sort of person is Les 'iddins? Tony Squires, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, described 'im as someone "who would prefer to eat his own pancreas than hobnob at Planet Hollywood". Seems a perfectly reasonable point of view.....
No Plants...But Worth Checking!
Beyond the Black Stump
"Beyond the Black Stump", for those who may be wondering, is a general term used to describe somewhere way out in the Australian outback. This electronic Black Stump" is a jumping off point to a host of Australian web sites covering over 100 categories.
The categories are certainly diverse. Here you will find entries covering aboriginal resources, banks, beer, flora/fauna, legal information, quarantine, railways, postcodes, republican movement, taxation, travel/tourism, unions, wine..... an excellent jumping off point for those wanting to explore Aus.
Located on the shore of Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra, Questacon is a unique hands-on science and technology centre. "Do not Touch" signs are banned from Questacon! This is not just for kids! All adults will be stimulated by the 180 interactive displays and may even come away believing that physics is phun!
This site provides a virtual tour of the different galleries, each devoted to a different branch of science. But there are also details of several simple experiments which can be carried out at home. These go by the names of "A stirring sight!", "Up, up and away with bottles", "Musical coathanger", "Echo in my head" and "Balloon surprise" among others....no, you'll have to check out the site if you want to know more. Oh, all right! "Up, up and away with water bottles" explores the laws of motion using plastic bottles to make water rockets. "Choose a large open area outside for this activity" is the suggestion from Questacon!
While you're visiting the site, take a look at "Comet Central" where you will find sky charts, details of the movements of recent comets to visit our solar system and spectacular astro photographs from astro photographer, Dr David Malin.
Off the Planet!
You Actually Eat This Stuff??!!!
That dark brown/black concoction of paste-like consistency with a smell that would subdue a randy wombat.....
To the bewilderment of much of the globe's population, Australians love it! There are few true Australian culinary triumphs. There's possibly only two; the Pavlova, and Vegemite on toast for breakfast....and the New Zealanders are disputing the Pav's origin, which may only leave Vegemite. The perfect start to the day.
So what is it about Vegemite that makes Australians love it and others recoil in horror? The fact that parents often smear the stuff on baby's rusks might have something to do with it. Get 'em young and you've got 'em for life! And there will no comments about child abuse!!!!!
It's understandable that people will be sceptical. It's rumoured that jars of the product have been confiscated by customs officers on the grounds that it is a substance of unknown origin or purpose!
But Australians know better. And at Alan Sipole's Vegemite Central you can learn all about this wondrous product. How it originated. Its history. What you can do with it (food-wise, that is). Recipes using it (few in number, unfortunately). And, the pièce de résistance...Le Veg Louvre where Vegemite and fine art undergo an almost surreal symbiosis...of course I'm serious!
Surprisingly the site is maintained by the US distributor for the product. Alan is someone who likes a challenge, undoubtedly! May his attempt to introduce the delights of Vegemite to the American palate archive the success it so richly deserves!!!
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