Visiting botanist sees living links with Europe’s past

Published 24 August 2011

kunzmannbruhl-bloggEight UNE scientists travelled to Melbourne at the end of July, to join about 2,000 others from around the world for the 18th International Botanical Congress.

After the Congress, Associate Professor Jeremy Bruhl (the Director of the N.C.W. Beadle Herbarium at UNE) and Ian Telford (The Herbarium’s Curator and a PhD student in Botany) conducted an international group of 10 botanists on a three-day field trip through a wide range of ecosystems in the Northern Tablelands and North Coast of NSW.

The trip ended at UNE, where most of the visitors made use of the Herbarium for their research.

One of them, Dr Lutz Kunzmann, Head of Palaeobotany at the Senckenberg Natural History Collections in Dresden, Germany, was particularly interested in the conifers he saw during the field trip. As a palaeobotanist, Dr Kunzmann studies the fossils of conifers that became extinct in northern Europe about 110 million years ago. In northern NSW he saw – for the first time – close relatives of those extinct European conifers growing in their natural habitats.

“We saw conifers in a diverse range of habitats on the field trip,” he said, “and in different stages of development – from saplings to large trees.” He told Dr Bruhl that the trip had given him some important ideas for further research.

At UNE, Dr Kunzmann saw specimens of Australian native conifers growing around the campus, and is pictured here (at left) with Dr Bruhl inspecting a Queensland Kauri (Agathis robusta) growing just outside UNE’s Botany building.