Thursday, July 22, 2010

Eucalyptus sweedmaniana - Sweedman's Mallee

KEW Gardens
Photos: M. Taylor

Do a web search for Luke Sweedman and you won't be starved for reading material any time soon. Sweedman is Curator for the WA Seed Technology Center at our park. He is an expert in the storage of species for threatened species and some of our guides have come to call him "Sweedman the seedman." His most well known work is "Australian Seeds: a guide to their collection, identification and biology" Sweedman & Barrett.

In 2006, Sweedman was out on a seed collecting expedition with his colleague Professor Stephan Hopper, Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew when they discovered a new species of Mallee now named Eucalyptus sweedmaniana.

It is a Eucalyptus of the family Myrtaceae and order Myrtales. It is rare and poorly known, which in the Australian system of taxonomy means that there may be less than 5 known populations which are all under threat. In the case of E. sweedmaniana, there is only one known population located in the Mount Arid granitic massif, east of Esperance.

As suggested by it's "Mallee" name it grows in a low multi-stemmed shrub up to about 1 meter high, but as much as 5 meters wide. The pics here were taken from a signed specimen located in the botanical garden, Mallee section, river side of the hard path. Look for the red bloom and of course, the sign.

Luke Sweedman is only one of the many research scientists that are keeping Kings Park in Perth, Western Australia atop a very short list of internationally renowned botanic gardens.

M. Taylor

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