Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research
Australian National Herbarium

Botanical Research, Conservation, Management
and Use of the Australian Flora

CPBR logo


2 September 2002

Botanical Treasures

- unlocking the many values of Australian plants

Australia is a veritable treasure trove of valuable plants - some known and some yet to be discovered. Botanists are playing a vital role in modern plant discovery that could lead to many environmental and economic benefits for Australians.

Join Dr Curt Brubaker of CSIRO Plant Industry as he explores the many values of Australian plants in the second of the Biodiversity Bites free lecture series presented by the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research at CSIRO Discovery.

Australia's beautiful native plants hold much aesthetic and inherent natural value, but their worth extends beyond this.

"Historically Australia's plants were used as a food source for Aborigines and these days your average Australian also eats food derived from Australian plants such as macadamias," says Dr Brubaker.

"Furthermore our stock graze on native pastures, our florists sell native flowers and foliage, and our chemists provide eucalyptus and tea tree oil for medicinal purposes."

"We are even investigating the possibility of using the genetics of native Australian plants as a source of genetic material to help improve agricultural crops."

"But we only find out about these uses when we discover a new plant and explore its potential."

Botanists at the Australian National Herbarium, CSIRO Plant Industry, are at the forefront of modern plant discovery and responsible for collecting around 5,000 plant specimens a year that contribute to our treasure chest of knowledge on Australian plants.

During his presentation Dr Brubaker will discuss the changing role of the herbarium and how modern techniques can help to find new plant values and conserve remaining native plants.

Information on plant specimens stored at the Herbarium - or plant museum - dates back over 200 years. It can be used to determine where plants used to grow before they were cleared.

"This is especially helpful in areas where no native plants remain but there is a desire to revegetate using the original native plants," says Dr Brubaker.

Another exciting aspect of the Herbarium today is the improved availability and accessibility of information on native plants. Such information was once only available through large and complex academic publications, but is now compiled into user-friendly interactive plant identification keys and Australia's Virtual Herbarium.

"The Australian flora is a tremendous resource and we, along with herbaria across Australia, are working hard to unlock its potential for all Australians," says Dr Brubaker.

'Biodiversity Bites' Public Lecture

Date: Wednesday, 4 September 2002
Time: 6.00pm - 7.00pm (seating available from 5.00pm)
Venue: CSIRO Discovery Lecture Theatre
Black Mountain Laboratories
Corner of Clunies Ross Street and Barry Drive
Cost: Free - everyone welcome

Media are invited to attend this and upcoming "Biodiversity Bites" public lectures.

Dr Curt Brubaker is available for interview.

The Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research is a joint initiative between the Australian National Botanic Gardens and CSIRO Plant Industry.

For more information on upcoming "Biodiversity Bites" visit www.cpbr.gov.au/cpbr/lectures.

Media information:

Sophie Clayton, CSIRO Plant Industry 02 6246 5139
0418 626 860

Attendance information:

Val Oliver, CSIRO Plant Industry 02 6246 5533



Updated 2 September, 2002 by Murray Fagg (anbg-info@anbg.gov.au)