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First Cuttings

..odds and ends from the world of Australian plants....

A Mailing List?

From time to time people have suggested that there might be value in starting an SGAP Mailing List (see box). The aim would be for people with an interest in the Australian flora to be able to ask questions, make suggestions and expound theories or to reply to questions, suggestions and theories of others. I haven't acted on this to date, mainly because of the time involved in setting a list up and keeping it going.


However, the level of enquiries being received by email is now getting to the stage where it's near the limit of what one person can handle. By putting enquiries onto a mailing list, the enquiries can potentially be addressed by all members of the list (obviously this doesn't occur in practice because almost no one can be an expert in everything!).

As I see it, messages from people visiting the web site would be directed to the mailing list rather than to the webmaster (isn't that a great word!). The webmaster would be responsible for ensuring that all enquiries are answered (ie if no one else satisfactorily answered an enquiry, the webmaster would do so).

Enquiries regarding Society matters and subscriptions to this magazine would continue to go directly to the webmaster.

What is a Mailing List?

Mailing lists are similar in concept to newsgroups except that they operate via electronic mail and are only available to subscribers to the list. Messages (enquiries, comments, etc) posted to the mailing list are distributed to all other subscribers via email. Every member of the list then has the opportunity to respond to the message either as as a posting to the list (which is then also distributed to all subscribers) or as a private email to the original enquirer.

The number of postings to a mailing list can vary greatly but, based on the traffic on other plant enthusiasts sites, would probably be no more than 1-3 per day (ie members of the mailing list could expect an increase in their daily email of 1-3 messages).

Even if a subscriber never posts a message to the list, he or she can expect to learn a great deal just be reading messages posted by others.

Some lists are maintained manually by an administrator but most use specialised software to distribute postings automatically.

I'd be interested in any thoughts readers might have on this and I'd certainly like to hear from anyone who has some experience in setting up and/or maintaining a list. To date we have around 460 subscribers to the magazine and I would hope that these could form the basis of a mailing list.

Adoption of a mailing list is one option to give better service to enquirers but there may be others. If you believe that you know of a viable alternative, please contact me.

Archiving for Mac users

One of the great features of the Internet is that people using different types of computers can exchange information. However, what happens when material is compressed for archiving purposes?

In order to conserve space, older articles from "Australian Plants online" have been archived but are available for download through the Treasure Chest. As I'm working with a Windows PC, the archives have been prepared in ZIP format (which is virtually the standard on MS DOS/Windows systems). Once downloaded, users can decompress the archive with a utility such as WINZIP or one of a number of other utilities.

But what about Mac users?

Not having access to a Mac, I'm unsure whether the ZIP system is easily accessible to Mac-o-philes. There is a Macintosh programme called ZIPIT which, I understand, works in a similar manner to WINZIP. I'd be interested in hearing from any Mac users who have experience in accessing ZIP files from the Mac or who might have some alternative suggestions.

Melt Down

The utilities mentioned above are available from many shareware libraries including TUCOWS.

Western Weeds

Agriculture Western Australia has produced a book called "Western Weeds" which covers over 1000 species naturalised in WA and has pictures of over 600 species. Price is $25 plus $5 postage anywhere in Australia.

Interested parties can contact Rod Randall by email (rprandall@sp.agric.wa.gov.au).

Agriculture WA is also responsible for the Weed Risk Assessment (WRA) system discussed in Net Watch.

Cultivar Watch

New cultivars of Australian plants appear at regular intervals, some aimed at the commercial cut flower grower and others at ornamental horticulture. Some will become firmly established in gardens and others will disappear without trace....

Here are a few which have appeared recently. Keep a look out for them at your favourite nursery:

Cultivar NameDescription
Angophora costata "Little Gumball"A compact form of this normally large tree. It has an attractive, multi-trunked habit and bright red-tipped new growth from winter through spring. Reported to reach 5 metres x 3 metres in 10 years.
Leptospermum "Merinda"Another of Peter Olerenshaw's Leptospermum spectabile hybrids. This is a small to medium shrub with stunning magenta flowers in spring.
Leptospermum "Pretty Polly"A selection of Leptospermum polygalifolium. This is a small, rounded shrub to about 1 metre with rounded, glossy-green foliage. White flowers appear in masses in spring and the plant seems to have some similarity to the well-known L."Cardwell".
Bracteantha "Sundaze" seriesThis is a new series of paper daisies. The first three varieties have been released - in gold, lemon and white. The plants range in size from 50 cm to 1 metre.
Grevillea "Dot Brown"Another of the "Queensland hybrid" grevilleas. This is a shrub to 2 metres x 2 metres with large deep orange flower clusters for most of the year. Similar to G."Honey Gem" but apparently more compact.
Hardenbergia violacea "Winter White"A shrubby form of this species (which is normally a climber). It produces masses of white flowers from late winter to early spring and reaches 0.5 to 0.75 metres in height.

Media Watch

These are a few items from various sources. Please send any similar items that you think could be of interest to other readers.

A Blue (or green or pink) Waratah?No, this is not the work of plant geneticists. Rather, it's the work of National Parks and Wildlife Service Rangers armed with cans of spray paint. The aim is to discourage poachers who remove many of the blooms for sale at $10 or more each. In a trial, 15 roadside plants were disfigured by spraying the foliage directly below the blooms and not one of the blooms on these plants was picked. Half subsequently produced and dispersed seed. (Sydney Morning Herald, October 13, 1997).
A Protected HabitatGrevillea kennedyana is a rare species found in far north-western New South Wales in the Sturt National Park. Because of its vivid red blooms, it is known as the flame spider flower. It has become the first plant, under NSW Legislation, to have a dedicated programme drafted for its recovery. Work is underway to compile scientific data to enable the plan to be completed. This includes age of the current population, growth rate, duration of fertility and mechanism of seed spread.(The Australian, October 14, 1997).
Not Falling.... Weeding!Microstrobus fitzgeraldii is a dwarf conifer which grows on cliff faces within the spray zone of several waterfalls in the upper Blue Mountains west of Sydney. It is a rare species which is threatened by urban runoff and by the spread of weeds such as montbretia and ivy. Because of the steep nature of the plant's habitat, a specialised team of national parks officers and police recently undertook a two day exercise to remove the weeds and household rubbish. The team abseilled down hundreds of metres of the cliff face as part of an ongoing effort to save the rare pine. (The Sydney Morning Herald, November 4, 1997).
Recovery Plan for Wollemi PineA draft Recovery Plan for the Wollemi Pine (Wollemia nobilis) includes procedures to cater for a catastrophic loss of the wild population, to cope with weed infestation and to deal with commercialisation of the species. There are only 40 adult pines and around 200 seedlings so far located in the wild. Research has shown that the population has the lowest known genetic variability of any plant species. This means that all of the individuals in the wild are genetically almost identical due to prolonged inbreeding.

The pines have survived ice ages floods, fires and droughts but the human threat may be their biggest test. Anyone caught damaging the pines can face a fine up to $100,000 and/or 12 months' jail. (The Sydney Morning Herald, June 7, 1997).

Jurassic Pines go NorthFurther to the previous item, Channel 9 (Sydney) news reported on18 October 1997 that small plants of the Wollemi Pine are now settling in to their new home at London's Kew Gardens. This is part of a world wide programme to protect this rare find.

Until next time...good growing.

Brian Walters


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Australian Plants online - December 1997
The Society for Growing Australian Plants