Plant collecting on Christmas Island

Herbarium manager Brendan Lepschi collecting plants at Coconut Corner, Christmas Island

A Parks Australia team swapped frosty Canberra mornings for the hot, humid conditions of Christmas Island to go plant collecting, surveying the island’s flora to update knowledge of its native and weedy plant species.

The team made more than 274 collections, comprising around 250 different species. The collections are destined for Australian and international herbaria and will form the basis for a reference herbarium for Christmas Island park staff. Photographic records of specimens were also made to add to the extensive collection already managed by the Australian National Botanic Gardens.

Christmas Island’s Alasdair Grigg provided exceptional advance support, including shipping newspaper from the mainland and hoarding cardboard boxes to cut up for plant presses.

With the aid of an industrial dehumidifier the walk-in wardrobe of a Department of Immigration house was converted to a super efficient drying room and the kitchen island bench made for an ergonomically sound plant processing bench. Those Christmas Island parkies are so ingenious!

Somewhat off brief, but an impressive specimen all the same. Christmas Island Ranger Alasdair Grigg with some of Christmas Island’s wildlife, a robber crab

Bronwyn, Centre for Australian National Biodiversity Research