The serenity of Skullbone Plains

Matthew Baker from the Tasmanian Herbarium finds a resting spot on a cushion plant while 'blitzing' Skullbone Plains in Tasmania

I spent yesterday with the botanists in the northern section of Skullbone Plains, and wow, what a wonderful conservation reserve. The central highlands of Tasmania never cease to amaze me with its complexity, beauty and serenity.

Button grass at Skullbone Plains, Tasmania. Photo: A Schmidt-Lebuhn

Yesterday the Bush Blitz botanists worked their way through eucalypt woodland to an area of sphagnum moss, cushion plants, button grass and sedges near the Nive River. An amazing diversity of plants — the closer you look the more you see.

Phil Hurle, Nursery Manager at the Australian National Botanical Gardens (ANBG), has already collected many interesting and beautiful iconic Tasmanian plants to take back to the Gardens.

Nursery manager at the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra Phil Hurle collects specimens to take back to boost the gardens' Tasmanian exhibit. Photo: A Schmidt-Lebuhn

Phil is collecting live plant specimens — seed and cuttings for propagation — to enhance the Tasmanian plants exhibit at the Botanic Gardens in Canberra.

He carefully documents where he has found each collection. He then packs the cuttings in vegie bags, wets them and places the bags in boxes with ice to keep them cool and in good condition. The cuttings are quickly sent back to the Australian National Botanic Gardens. The cutting will slowly die back from the stem, but the tips will be good for propagation by the time they make it back to Canberra.

Phil is working alongside a team of botanists from the Tasmanian Herbarium and the Australian National Herbarium who are collecting specimens to be pressed, dried, and added to herbarium collections for study and as a reference.

Mim Jambrecina Senior Project Officer Bush Blitz

Bush Blitz is a multi-million dollar biodiversity discovery program between the Australian Government, BHP Billiton and Earthwatch Australia that aims to find new species and document the plants and animals across Australia’s National Reserve System.

Skullbone Plains is managed for conservation by the Tasmanian Land Conservancy as part of the National Reserve System.