Thursday, November 19, 2015

Conferences, pottery and botany picture #219: Actinobole condensatum

Yesterday morning I had the pleasure of presenting a talk on the daisy family Asteraceae to the Biennial Conference of the Australian Native Plant Society Australia* (ANPSA). It was the first time I have been at a conference that wasn't either political or scientific, and I found it interesting how it compares to our scientific society meetings such as the upcoming annual conference of the Australasian Systematic Botany Society (ASBS), which will also take place here in Canberra.

At the ASBS, we will have around 50 speakers over three days, nearly all of them out of their own initiative, and nearly all of them will have only 15 min. At the ANPSA, they have 21 speakers over five days, many talks appear to be invited, and speakers are alloted 45-60 min.

At the ASBS, we will have one field trip on the day after the conference. At the ANPSA, they have several field trips (excursions) every day throughout the week, although admittedly they do not go as far away.

Clearly priorities are slightly different - native plant enthusiasts can hardly be expected to get together every two years and not prioritise looking at native plants.

Anyway, at least one of the members must be into ceramics and pottery. Each invited speaker was given a little customised vase; at least two of us (including me) did not even remember that the society contact asked us months ago what our favourite plant was. It is hard to pick just one, but I now dimly recall that I nominated Actinobole condensatum, because this is what the artist, known to me only as Franzi from her signature on the vase, did:

And here, for comparison, a picture of Actinobole condensatum I took during a field trip to Western Australia in 2012:

It is a great impression and abstraction, getting across a good likeness of the species. And the species is really a super-cute desert ephemeral. The plants are very tiny and short-lived, but they produce a dense, attractive cluster of small but typical paper daisy heads. The red sand on which they like to grow does its part to make for an aesthetic impression.


*) Yes, that extra Australia seems a bit odd at first sight, but I understand that it is meant to differentiate the national society from the local chapters, as in Australian Native Plant Society Canberra Region, and not from a hypothetical Australian Native Plant Society Botswana.

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