ISSN 1188-603X

No. 271 July 26, 2001 Victoria, B.C.
Dr. A. Ceska, P.O.Box 8546, Victoria, B.C. Canada V8W 3S2


From: Brent Mishler []

It is my sad duty to report that after a battle with pneumonia, one of my Integrative Biology colleagues, Professor Emeritus Lincoln Constance, passed away on June 11, 2001 at the age of 92.

Lincoln was the patriarch of Botany at Berkeley and foremost expert on Umbelliferae/Apiaceae systematics. He was immensely influential in shaping the modern history of the University and of systematic botany on a worldwide level. Lincoln's long and distinguished career began as a graduate student with Willis Linn Jepson in the 30's. He was Curator of Seed Plants in the University Herbarium beginning in the 40's, Chair of the Department of Botany in the early 50's, Dean of the College of Letters and Science from the mid-50's to early 60's, Vice-Chancellor of Academic Affairs from the early to mid 60's, Director of the University Herbarium from the early 60's to mid 70's and Trustee of the Jepson Herbarium from 1960 until his death. In addition to his numerous professional accomplishments, Lincoln was a true gentleman and an exceptionally generous colleague, mentor and friend. We will truly miss him.

A memorial service will be held in September. We will send more information when it becomes available.

A larger obituary was written by Bob Sanders. It is at:


From: Dianne Brown []

In the far north-east of New South Wales, the discovery of a new member of the Proteaceae family has created much excitement in the botanical world and beyond. Dubbed the Nightcap Oak, Eidothea hardeniana is a tall tree that occurs in the rainforest of the Nightcap Range.

The discovery of the Nightcap Oak was a slow process, beginning in 1875 in Victoria. A fossil of a closely related tree found near Ballarat was first described by botanist Baron Ferdinand von Mueller as Xylocaryon lockii. Then, nearly one hundred years later in the 1960's, renowned botanist Bernie Hyland found similar fruits on the rainforest floor on the flank of Mount Bartle Frere in far north Queensland. It took him 20 years to finally locate the trees that produced the fruit to allow final identification, which were formally described in 1995. These trees were placed in the Proteaceae family in the genus Eidothea (it is very closely related to the Nightcap Oak). This North Queensland species has been named Zoexylocarya, due to many similarities with the fossil plant found in Victoria.

Then in the late 1980's, botanist Rob Kooyman found leaves from a young plant in the Nightcap Range that he could not identify. Specimens returned from the herbarium placed the leaves tentatively in the genus Corynocarpus, however, without any further material such as flowers or fruits, it was impossible to more accurately describe the species. The mystery remained unsolved until late in 2000 when Rob was once again working in the Nightcap Ranges in northern New South Wales with colleague Andrew Benwell, when more individuals were found, including some that were large rainforest canopy trees. When Rob took a small sample of wood from one of the trees, it showed the familiar oak flecking which is characteristic of the family Proteaceae. Further searching located nuts from the trees, which displayed remarkable similarities with the fossil nut from Victoria, and the nuts from the Mt Bartle Frere trees. By now, Rob was convinced that he was looking at a new member of the Proteaceae family. The Nightcap Oak has been formally described by Proteaceae specialist Peter Weston at the NSW National Herbarium, assisted by Rob Kooyman. Fortuitously, some of the trees flowered shortly after discovery, which will assist with the formal description of the taxon.

Description, habitat and population

The Nightcap Oak grows in simple notophyll vine forest (warm temperate rainforest) on rhyolite (an acid volcanic rock) geology. The Nightcap Range is renowned for its World Heritage rainforests, high biodiversity, and particularly for its large number of rare, threatened and significant plants and animals. The largest Nightcap Oak measures 40 m in height, and has a diameter at breast height of 75 cm. The juvenile leaves have persistent spiny teeth, while the adult leaves have entire margins. The fruits are woody with ribs intruding into the seed, similar to a walnut. The flowers are a creamy white with a mildly aniseed scent. The tree often has a suckering growth habit, similar to many rainforest trees that grow in the area. The trees are only known to occur within one catchment of the Nightcap Range, and are scattered across a few hectares. The only other member of the Eidothea genus occurs in far north Queensland and has a restricted distribution. After extensive searching for further populations, the current population size is approximately 56 mature trees, 107 stems and 48 seedlings have been recorded.

Evolutionary history

Proteaceae is an ancient Gondwanan plant family. Members of the Proteaceae family are among the first flowering plants that appear in the Australian fossil record during the Cretaceous period, over 60 million years ago. The flowers of the Nightcap Oak have characteristics far more primitive than many other members of the family, indicating that it has an evolutionary history stretching far into the past. Along with the fossil relative found in Victoria and the Eidothea in far north Queensland, the discovery of the Nightcap Oak provides additional evidence that southeast Australia was once covered in rainforest. The Nightcap Oak represents one of the families from which much of the modern, dry-adapted Australian flora such as the genera Banksia and Grevillea, evolved and as such may provide important information to assist with the reconstruction of the evolution of Australia's flora.

Media interest

Naturally, comparisons were made early on in the discovery to the finding of the Wollemi Pine (Wollemia nobilis, Araucariaceae) in Wollemi National Park north-west of Sydney. This subsequently attracted considerable media attention including national and international radio, newspapers and television.

Although it is important to publicise a new and exciting botanical discovery, it is essential that this attention does not expose the Nightcap Oak to any potential threats. Now that the media interest has died down, the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service is concerned to keep the location of the plants confidential to prevent any trampling, illegal collection or vandalism, or the accidental introduction of pests and disease.

Conservation planning

One of the most important actions now to protect the Nightcap Oak is to keep the location of the trees confidential for reasons mentioned above. A site visitation protocol similar to that developed for the Wollemi Pine will need to be developed. This will aim to control access to authorised personnel such as researchers and land managers. Management will also be required to ensure that the trees are protected from a natural disaster such as fire. The species will also need to be protected from any direct or indirect impacts of logging such as sedimentation or exposure. In recognition of the significance of the Nightcap Oak, the NSW Scientific Committee has proceeded with an emergency listing of the species as Endangered under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act, 1995. If the Nightcap Oak is listed the National Parks and Wildlife Service will be required to develop a Recovery Plan for the species. The Recovery Plan will aim to ensure that the Nightcap Oak and its habitat is protected from threatening processes by outlining the actions needed to ensure its long term survival in the wild.

Ex situ conservation of the species will also be investigated, including the collecting of seeds and cuttings for growing in a botanic garden. This will ensure that, if any catastrophic event kills the trees growing in the wild, the species will not be lost forever and may be reintroduced to the site.

A Recovery Plan will also outline the development of a research plan. The research plan will investigate the species' ecology such as its habitat, life cycle, pollinators, dispersal mechanisms and genetics. Initially, the NPWS has provided additional funds to survey potential habitat for the species.

For further information on the Nightcap Oak please contact Dianne Brown at the Threatened Species Unit, NPW.


From: Dave Carmean []

The University of British Columbia Herbarium is the third largest in Canada and worldwide in scope. Complete label data (mostly unedited) from about 65% of our 560,000 accessioned specimens is now accessible at

We believe this is one of the larger and most complete herbarium data sets available online.

The UBC Herbarium is part of the Department of Botany and the Director is Dr. Fred Ganders.

The vascular plant collection contains over 217,000 specimens (Curator, Dr. Helen Kennedy). Due primarily to the collections of Dr. W. B. Schofield, the bryophyte collection is one of the largest in North America, with about 227,000 specimens (Curator, Dr. Wilf Schofield). The algae collection, of over 67,000 specimens, includes the world's largest collections of Alaskan and British Columbian seaweeds, largely due to the efforts of Dr. R. F. Scagel and his many students and colleagues (Curator, Dr. Michael Hawkes). The lichen collection includes more than 36,000 specimens (Curator, Mr. Trevor Goward) and the fungi collection more than 14,000 specimens (Curator, Dr. Mary Berbee).

The databases are served by Filemaker Pro using an iMac computer.

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