Fieldwork report – Linda-Liisa from Western Australia

Text by Linda-Liisa Veromann

Hello everybody!

I am currently in Western Australia where I am collecting volatiles and anatomical samples of different species of Cycads and do also some traveling for my holiday.

We noticed interesting characteristics of Cycads when I analyzed a couple of species for the article currently in writing, so we decided together with Ülo and Tiina that it would be a good idea to study it further.

Another goal for this trip is to collect anatomical samples of other evolutionarily old plants, both gymnosperms and ferns, to add to the collection I gathered back in Tasmania (part 1, 2, 3 of Tasmanian fieldwork).

We started our travels in Perth, from where we drove about 400 km south to Tingle State and Albany. However, now we are already travelling towards north, driving and sleeping in our car with the samples safely in the car´s fridge. I have collected quite a lot of anatomical samples and almost half of the planned volatile samples by now.

I will fly off from the east coast, so hopefully I will be able to get a wide range of samples of Australian Cycads from various environments.

The nature here is amazing! Especially the evolutionarily old plants as I’ve never seen Cycads in the wild. Walking in a forest with gnarly Cupressaceae trees, old Eucs burnt hollow in the middle (flowering plants, but still too impressive not to mention), fern trees and large tough Zamias, is like going back in time. I kind of expect to see a dinosaur every time the wind blasts through the forest.

Standing in the middle of a 400-year-old Eucalyptus diversicolor, which is still alive by the way!

Standing in the middle of a 400-year-old Eucalyptus diversicolor, which is still alive by the way!

Collecting samples from a Macrozamia riedlei, but only anatomical due to the rain.

Collecting samples from a Macrozamia riedlei, but only anatomical due to the rain.

Collecting anatomical samples in a nursery while the volatile pump is running.

Collecting anatomical samples in a nursery while the volatile pump is running.

Collecting volatiles and anatomical samples from a huge Macrozamia fraseri!

Collecting volatiles and anatomical samples from a huge Macrozamia fraseri!

“Walking through forests in SW West Australia looking at fern threes, cycads and elderly burly conifers I begin to think of another time. A time without flowers but with birds with sharp teeth and giant meat-eating lizards. And oh, so many herbivores in all shapes and sizes. But the plants of that era aren’t that defenseless themselves. Having fallen face-first into an Araucaria angustifolia, I’ve experienced the toughness of these living fossils firsthand. Furthermore, you’ll need a perfectly sharpened knife to take a leaf sample from an adult Macrozamia. Obviously, they were a tough meals only for a tough dinosaur.” – excerpt from my journal.

All the best and lots of sunshine to your summer!
Linda-Liisa

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