Monday, November 27, 2017

South Australia field work, part three

The Systematics 2017 conference in Adelaide has now started, but here are a few final pictures from field work.

On our way north from Adelaide I was very happy to find the rare salt lake ephemeral Hagiela tatei (Asteraceae). It had already finished its life cycle, but I hope that I got a few seeds for my work.

The northernmost area we went to was Mt Remarkable National Park. There, however, we did not find much because it was fairly dry.

One of the few plants flowering in the area was Solanum ellipticum (Solanaceae); identification kindly provided by Tim Collins.

I have seen more millipedes last Saturday than in the first forty years of my life. What is their deal? Somewhat disappointing then to learn that they are introduced and invasive. But seriously, the situation reminded me of this comic.

Our final site was Tothill Ranges reserve which is managed by the NGO Bushland Conservation. One of the members kindly lead us around the reserve. Pictured above a slope with lots of grasstrees, but what I was after are the small white dots on the ground: paper daisies.

A nice Acacia (Fabaceae) flowering in Tothill Ranges, unfortunately I forget the name.

And finally a paper daisy. Chrysocephalum semipapposum (Asteraceae) is, of course, common and widespread, even occurring in Canberra. But it is also extremely polymorphic, and the plants in this population here are much smaller than the ones growing back home.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

South Australia field work, part two

A few more pictures from field work; not sure if I will have internet again before Sunday.

The above picture shows the lookout over Scott Cove in the north-western corner of Kangaroo Island taken yesterday.

At that very place were two species of mint bush. This one is the aptly named Prostanthera spinosa (Lamiaceae). I do not yet know the name of the other one.

The last Kangaroo Island photo is this tiny sundew (Drosera, Droseraceae), but I don't know its species name either.

Today, however, we have worked in the Fleurieu Peninsula. This is the coast as seen from the cliff-tops of the Newland Head Conservation Park.

A little birdie wondering what those weird humans are doing in its habitat. Apparently a rosella, but a different species than the ones I know from Canberra.

Also found in the heath of Newland Head: Chrysocephalum apiculatum (Asteraceae).

Finally, Hindmarsh Falls, south of Adelaide. The area here south and south-east of Adelaide is much more lush and green than I expected from South Australia and reminds me rather more of Tasmania...

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

South Australia field work, part one

Currently I am doing field work in South Australia with Tim Collins of UNE. The past three days Bev Overton very kindly guided us around Kangaroo Island, where we collected plants for Tim's research.

Kangaroo Island has a beautiful coastline, but of course so has much of Australia.

Close to this spot we ran into an angry hive of feral bees but got away relatively lucky.

Above a ball of seagrass. I read about these in one of my daughter's nature books, but this is the first time I saw them with my own eyes.

Coming to the flowering plants, this is Olearia ciliata (Asteraceae). Fairly small for a daisy bush, which is why I could not at first believe that it is indeed an Olearia.

I was very happy to find Leiocarpa supina (Asteraceae) as it was on my 'shopping list'. It is not exactly rare, I ultimately saw it in several coastal locations. I assume the orange lichen in the background would have to be the same species as the one in Tasmania, that of the Bay of Fires.

Finally a particularly rare species. We learned that Stilidium tepperianum (Stylidiaceae) is a Kangaroo Island endemic, and we were fairly lucky to see it.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

What race is a dickhead, indeed

Reading the recent news items about an Australian senator with Muslim background being abused in a pub by a bunch of racists, two thoughts occur to me. The first regards the oh so clever comeback by one of those racists after being called a racist: "what race is Muslim?"

The thing is, of course, that there are legitimate and illegitimate cases of people being called racist. If, for example, a hypothetical atheist were to say, "mainstream Islam as currently practised is problematic to me because so many of its adherents consider homophobia and sexism central to their beliefs and identity" then calling that statement racist is just wrong. Maybe that atheist is also mistaken, and maybe they are also incidentally racist, but the argument as stated would be explicitly about a belief or behaviour, regardless of what particular person holds the belief or shows the behaviour. It is not a racist statement.

This present case, however, isn't that. Somebody who says, "why don't you go back to Iran" and calls their opposite "monkey" is clearly not making an argument about theology; they are just being racist. Those statements are what is called a dead giveaway.

The second thought is the same that I always have when reading about white racism in countries like the USA or Australia: I gawk, open-mouthed in amazement, at somebody whose ancestors lived in Europe a mere two hundred years ago telling somebody else to "go back" to the country of their parents. Ye gods, one of those guys apparently called himself an "original Australian". The mind boggles. One wonders which Aboriginal tribe he identifies with, and what the other members of the tribe think about that...