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Australian Plants online

Net Watch...choice selections on the 'net


"Net Watch" aims to report those sites that you, as a grower, propagator or appreciator of Australian plants, might find interesting. Most of them relate to Australian issues of a horticultural, botanical or conservation nature but a few are of more general interest. A couple of other sites are "thrown in" for no other reason than that they redefine the term "bizarre". If you know of a site that fits into these general categories, please let us know.

The Living World

Western Australian Native Plants Database

FloraBase is an impressive project by the Western Australian Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM). FloraBase aims to provide up-to-date information on the names of Western Australian plants and includes distribution maps, short descriptions of each plant species and an expanding section of photographic images. Members of the Wildflower Society of Western Australia have been helping with his project. At present photos of about 5% of the plants are available. Searches can be performed according to a plant's name (including common name where one exists), or description, which includes basic taxonomic descriptors.

FloraBase Logo

Access to FloraBase is free at the general user level. This provides access to all of the plant names plus all of the photos which are currently available. Higher access levels come at a cost, as indicated in the table:

Features Level of Access
1 2 3 4 5
Price (AU$ or US$, per annum) Free $200 $500 $2000 $2000
Search Names & Library
View Images
View Maps  
View Descriptions  
Search Descriptions    
View Specimens    
Search Specimens      
View & Search Specimens of Declared and Priority taxa        

To access the site, registration is necessary for all levels...a painless process which provides the user with a password, sent via email the next day.

San Marcos Growers

San Marcos Growers is a wholesale-only nursery based in Santa Barbara, California (6 miles north of downtown Santa Barbara on Highway 101). What makes this site particularly useful to the average grower in the USA is the extensive information on the plants grown by the company.

The site includes a section specifically devoted to Australian plants and also has individual pages for the popular groups including Grevillea, Eucalyptus and Acacia as well as pages for some less well-known plants such as Dianella and Sollya. Numerous photographs are also included as are several pages on general gardening matters which are well worth a look.

An extensive series of links to nurseries and horticultural societies completes what is an excellent resource and one that could serve as an example to other commercial growers.

Ferns for Cold Climates

Like orchids, ferns have a strong following among the gardening public and many specialist nurseries and societies have been set up to cater for this interest. Also, like orchids, there are many misconceptions about cultivation of ferns, one of the most common being that they require a warm, tropical climate. Of course, many do....but many can be grown very successfully in cold areas as visitors to the Fern Gully at Burrendong Arboretum in central -western New South Wales will confirm.

This site mainly deals with the Ferns of the Canberra Region and includes:

  • Information on Climate
  • Local ferns plus Photos
  • Ecology
  • Species List
  • Growing Ferns
  • Links to Other Fern Sites
Fractal Fern

For a bit of fun...take a look at "Fractal Ferns" where mathematics produces some very realistic "pseudo fronds".

Is this a real frond of Calcita sp.???
Fractal image by David Nicholls

The Hardy Eucalypt Page

For growers in cold climates, particularly in the USA and Europe...this site is a gold mine of information. Even experienced growers in Australia will learn something here! The site is the work of Ian Barclay, an enthusiast from Olympia, Washington in the Pacific northwest of the USA.

The site's not flash....far from it. It takes the minimalist approach that "text = speed". So there aren't masses of graphics to slow things down, just lots of useful information and photographs where needed to illustrate various points.

Here's what you'll find.....

  • Eucalypts: a brief introduction
  • Cultural information for growing eucalypts in cool climates
  • Eucalyptus growth rate, and the importance of planting small
  • Alphabetic list of hardy Eucalyptus species
  • Eucalyptus hardiness index
  • Links to other eucalypt pages

Eucalyptus sideroxylon, the pink-flowered form.
Select the thumbnail image or plant name for a higher resolution image (33k).

There is also a forum for asking eucalypt-related questions or just discussing eucs and other Australian plants in general and some non-eucalypt topics including Tree Ferns, palms and conifers.

An interesting section is titled "Eucalyptus sabotage". But to find out what its all about, you'll just have to visit the site!

No Plants...But Worth Checking!

Snakes (and other things) Alive!!

It's hard to love a snake....particularly when you're trapped in a shed with a cranky Eastern Brown, as my son once was. But they're remarkable and beautiful creatures and, if you can't love them, at least show them a little respect.

The Venom and Toxin Database offers information on everything that slithers, scurries, swims, bites and stings.

The site is the work of the Centre for Drug Design and Development, University of Queensland, and focuses on venom and the clinical effects of the venom. If that sounds a little bit too esoteric...fear not! There is a host of interesting and useful information and photographs here on:

  • Snakes
  • Spiders
  • Mammals (the Platypus)
  • Octopi
  • Fish
  • Insects..and more!

The site is being expanded regularly with data on Starfish, Ticks, Jellyfish and Bluebottles promised soon.

Geography World

I came across this site when I was searching for maps and information on Continental Drift and Plate Tectonics. I found what I was looking for and lots more besides......

Land / Water and ErosionWeather and ClimateEcosystems
Conservation and EnvironmentNatural Resources and EnergyWorld Culture
Ancient CultureU.S. and Canada Geography and CultureLatin America
Australia / OceaniaMaps and GlobesTime
Geography GamesGeography Research ToolsEducational Media

The amount of original information under each topic varies. In some cases the topic consists of a number of links to other information while in other cases there is considerable first hand information in Geography World itself. It is a comprehensive site and is an excellent starting point for anyone looking for information on world geography and culture.

Over the Top!

Do You Really Need to Know This??

  • Do you know what "onomatopoeia" means? Or "tatterdemalion"??
  • Who said "Success always occurs in private; failure in full view"?
  • Did you know that "The number of atoms in a pound of iron is 4,891,500,000,000,000,000,000,000."? Or that "Cats have over one hundred vocal sounds, while dogs only have about ten."??
  • Do you ever wonder "why....the sky is blue?" or "why do bees buzz?"

The answers to all of these can be found at the archive of Useless Knowledge which is probably the ultimate resource for success at "Trivial Pursuit". Here you will find trivia, quotes, quizzes, useless facts and more!

You can also subscribe to the "Weekly Useless Info Newsletter" which will bring an ongoing supply of useless facts, quotes and imponderables.

The motto of this site is that "Knowledge is never useless."....well, you'll just have to make up your own mind about that!

Eyes....Just Eyes

One thing that is plainly evident from even a cursory look around the World Wide Web is that many people have far too much time on their hands.

This site consists of a matrix of 49 eyeballs plus a bit of Java script. What happens is that as you move your mouse around the matrix, each eyeball follows the cursor. That's it!

OK, so it's a bit of mindless nonsense...but take a look anyway. You'll have a chuckle in spite of yourself.

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Australian Plants online - December 1998
The Society for Growing Australian Plants