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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
On (or Beyond) the Brink....
It is a sad fact that since European settlement of Australia slightly more than 200 years ago, many native plant species have become extinct and many others are certainly headed in the same direction. Whether the trend can be reversed is uncertain despite the best efforts of many professionals and amateurs working with the Australian flora.
One way to help preserve the flora is for more people to understand the nature of the processes involved. These processes have led to 79 plant species being "Presumed Extinct" since European settlement and another 800+ to be classified as "Endangered" or "Vulnerable" (in danger of becoming extinct if current threats are not addressed). The Australian Flora Network has compiled a list of all plants in these three categories.
A selection of photographs of plants regarded at risk has been compiled by the Australian National Botanic Gardens. Be warned, however, that the Gardens is planning to revise the site containing these photographs and this link may not be applicable in the long term.
High Tech....Low Budget
Micro Propagation is propagation using very small pieces of plant tissue for culture under aseptic conditions (hence "tissue culture"). The procedure can produce large numbers of plants quickly and and, as far as Australian plants are concerned, has been widely used in the propagation of Kangaroo Paw species and cultivars (Anigozanthos sp, Macropidia sp.)
Tissue culture is not often considered to be a practical procedure for the home gardener because of the specialised equipment needed. But very keen propagators will find some resources on the Internet which will help them to get started.
A first "port of call" could be the Plant Tissue Culture Information Exchange. This contains links to tissue culture sites world wide covering, methods design, contaminant problems, propagation of specific plants and research. You could then take a look at Designing a Plant Micropropagation Laboratory. This is aimed at professionals interested in designing a commercial laboratory but ideas used in the big labs can be applied on a smaller scale.
Finally Plant Tissue Culture for Home Gardeners, a site put together by the Horticultural Science Group at the University of New England, New South Wales, sets out procedures that can be adopted at home. The site covers "Items Needed", "Media Preparation", "Sterilization", "Shoot Multiplication" and "Acclimatisation".
Florida Wildflower Page
This is very much a "no fuss" site. There are no masses of time wasting graphics to slow down loading, very concise and descriptive text of some of the features of Florida ecosystems and a large number of photographs laid out alphabetically by plant family. There are some "ring-ins" as well...insects and spiders.
What more needs to be said???
Orchids Down Under
The Australasian Native Orchid Society Inc (ANOS) is dedicated to the cultivation, conservation and scientific study of native orchids in the Australasian region. Here you will find out details of the services offered by the Society and information about District Groups and related organisations.
Reprints of articles from ANOS publications are a feature of the site and the articles cover a range of topics to assist the beginner and experienced grower alike. Topics include Species Orchids, Ecology, Fieldtrips, Cultivation and Propagation. There is also an expanding selection of photographs (with brief descriptions) covering both terrestrials and epiphytes.
When you read a description of a plant are you uncertain as to which language it's written in? Do you know the difference between "appressed" and "adpressed"? Do you have trouble telling your "antheridium" from your "parenchyma" .
If so you need to take a look at this "Glossary of Botanical Terms". There's nothing flash here...it's pure text but, at over 80k, it's certainly comprehensive. It doesn't always give an answer first time. Some definitions are in terminology that requires reference to another part of the glossary. But persistence will almost always lead to an understandable definition.
So what is the difference between "adpressed" and "appressed"? There isn't any! And "antheridium" and "parenchyma"? You'll have to look those up for yourself.....
No Plants...But Worth Checking!
In 1986 Dick Smith, a well-known Australian philanthropist, established the quarterly journal Australian Geographic to present informative and entertaining articles on Australia and on activities undertaken by Australians. The articles are accompanied by superb photography and artwork and each issue contains a detailed map or poster related to one of the main features.
Australian Geographic is the official journal of the Australian Geographic Society whose aim is to raise funds for scientific research, the environment, adventure and other worthwhile community projects. In the 11 years of operation, the Society has helped nearly 800 people and projects.
The Australian Geographic web site presents information about the journal and about the Society and includes an order form for those wanting to subscribe. Perhaps the most interesting features of the site are "Art Prints" and "Gallery Prints" where visitors can view examples of the art and photographic prints of Australian wildlife and landscape which are available for sale.
The dramatic "Frill Neck Lizard" (Chlamydosaurus kingii) is depicted in defensive display in one of the Australian Geographic "Art Prints". Artwork courtesy of Australian Geographic. Select the thumbnail image or highlighted name for a higher resolution image (28k).
OK! This is a little bit of indulgence on the part of the editor....
I have to admit it. In the '60s when I was growing up, Peter Paul and Mary were my musical heros. Others might have preferred the Beatles or the Beachboys (or the Easybeats if you happened to be Australian) but not me. The PP&M concerts at the old Sydney Stadium, with its "revolving" stage (or "revolting" as Peter referred to it), were memorable for more than just the music.
For all the attention that their music receives on Australian radio today, it would be easy to suspect that the trio had long since gone their separate ways. But not so! In 1995 they celebrated 35 years together and released a new album, their 17th, called "PPM& - Lifelines". Why the "&" after the "M" rather than before? Well, they were joined on the album by some of the legends of folk and blues music including Judy Collins, BB King, Tom Paxton, John Sebastian and Pete Seegar, Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Helleman of the Weavers. In August this year they released a live version of "Lifelines".
The "Lifelines" page is mainly a promotional exercise and you can download an "Interactive Press Kit for Windows" about the 1995 album. If you have fond memories of PP&M in the 60s, this is worth the download time just to be able to catch up on some once familiar faces. There's information about the 15 tracks on the album (which include some classics like "Deportee" and "Nobody Knows when you're Down and Out" as well as newer material). The only music you will hear, however, is part of Mary's "Home is where the heart is".
The site also provides links to other sources of information about Folk Music.
Off the Planet!
Newton! Einstein???...Bah Humbug!
This site is proof (if proof be needed) that there is a place for everything on the internet. The Mad Science Home Page is the place for...er, alternative theories.
A feature of the site at present is the First International Virtual Conference on Mad Science (IVCMS'96). Papers are flooding in from alternative thinkers worldwide (and, who knows, even beyond). The purpose of the conference is to "promote a general understanding of mad topics within the broader scientific community, to encourage new researchers to dabble with things best left alone.....and to replace the old drooling maniac stereotype of the mad scientist with a new drooling maniac image which is more appropriate to the modern era."
Some of the landmark offerings at IVCMS'96 include:
...and there's more where they came from! Much more! Almost too much more....
- The Production of Greenhouse Gasses in Academic Seminars.
- Things Man was not Meant to Know in the Biblical Sense.
- The Meaning of the Concept Ultimate in the Phrase Ultimate Weapon.
- Amateur Science Solves the UFO Mystery.
- Reverse Time Travel.
- The Practicalities of Photosynthesis in Humans.
- Occam's Eraser: a Bootstrap Approach to Developing a Theory of Everything.
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Australian Plants online - September 1996
The Society for Growing Australian Plants