Becklers' Botanical Bounty at Ballarat
Beckler’s plant contributions were used by both Mueller and RBG Kew botanist George Bentham to establish new taxa, and in preparation for some of the earliest publications on Australia’s flora. Beckler’s collection is of huge scientific importance in the history of Australian plant research.
The specimens have been verified by botanist Andrew Denham from the Office of Environment and Heritage, NSW, who has accompanied us and donated his time every year to the project. Beckler’s specimens are still held in the National Herbarium of Victoria today. He collected approximately 120 specimens of which we have to date found 90. The group has collected and pressed specimens for the Herbarium and the NSW Herbarium, and illustrated the flora in watercolors. The group has travelled to Menindee at the time of year that Beckler collected his specimens to maximize our chances of finding those same specimens. The area is harsh and has been impacted over the years by sheep and cattle grazing, agriculture, droughts and damming. The varied weather patterns of each year have increased the challenge of finding specimens.
To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the expedition, a group of botanical illustrators, led by Mali Moir, formed Beckler’s Botanical Bounty art group and travelled to Menindee NSW (south of Broken Hill) each year for the last seven years, to find these specimens and illustrate them.
The work has established a permanent verifiable comparative collection which will act as an invaluable resource of lasting significance for scientists, land managers and historians. It provides a rich data resource for further scientific study, including location maps for each species collected, in a format compatible for entry into The National Herbarium Victoria’s MELISR plant collection data base. We thank Mali for organising the project, her leadership, support and encouragement.
Dr Tim Entwisle, Director of the RBGV will open an exhibition to be held in the Ballarat Regional Gallery from Saturday 24 February 2018. The exhibition will include information about Dr Beckler, artifacts of the surrounding area, photographs, our paintings and pressed specimens. We welcome everyone to attend.
 Gillbank, L 2011, ‘The Botanical Legacy of Ferdinand Mueller and Hermann Beckler’ in JE Bernie & DA McCann (eds), Burke and Wills: the Scientific Legacy of the Victorian Exploring Expedition, CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, pp. 97-129
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