Thoughts, ideas, stories, presses, prezzies . . .

Archive for May, 2012

Hot Science

Science is hot. After the top soil has been transferred I am going to apply different treatments to it to stimulate its seed bank to germinate. One of the most exciting of them is to transfer heat (~80-100C) into the sandy soil. The very important point is to exclude the impact of the ash on our seed bank. Just heat. And this is a challenge what makes my grey cells in my brain spin. To make this treatment powerfull from the statistical point of you I have to repeat it ca 48 times.

I have received a multiple number of suggestions:

1. LPG gas burner and alu sheet – it turns out to be very time-consuming and laborious. I do not have much time as I have to do it by the beginning of the winter

2.Steam carpet cleaner – it is a half joke but if you know someone ready to do it let me know!!!

3. System of a heater and pipes with hot liquid in them running under the surface of my soil. It is a very sophisticated set to replicate in the field. +too much disturbance to the soil seed bank.

4. tray with burning charcoals on top of it. It is very easy to construct and operate but I am afraid that most of the heat will be lost to the atmosphere.


It is a tray with a tunnel top working as a heat sink. The mesh underneath is the reinforcement mesh to go under our Field Heat Conductor (FHC). It prevents metal sheets from bending down and helps in carrying it from plot to plot (hopefully). You can see spikes going downward but they complicate the construction. I would really appreciate any advice on improving my FHC.


The one more good thing about the charcoal is that we have to have a bonfire beforehand somewhere nearby ūüėÄ

Recalcitrant Plants (12)

Let us do it. I got a recalcitrant species priority list from Alcoa guys (most of the photos sourced from

1. Adenanthos barbiger (Proteaceae):

ADEN  means gland (in Greek) since it is hard not to notice its thick glandy nectaries

ANTHOS means flower. Not only Florian (derived from Latin) but also Anthony (derived from Greek) carry that hippie name.

BARBIGER  how come the Botanists tend to mix those languages so much? It comes from Latin Barba and it means a beard. It is about its hairiness. It may also recall Barbaros which in Greek again means a barbarian. Most of them were hairy and wild. I forgot its English name.

2. Agrostocrinum scabrum (Hemerocallidaceae):

AGROSTO -Eureka! Finally I know where the name  agriculture is from. AGROSTIS means simply a grass. Our Farm lands grow a lot of it.

KRINON- lily in Greek

SCABRUM – species names tend to derive from Latin. This one is about being scabrit (rough). Painfully beatifulus.

3. Clematis pubescens (Ranunculaceae) – it is a very popular geophyte in Alcoa’s nursery. It needs to develope good roots before going onsite. Picture from Alcoa Nursery:

CLEMATIS – stands for a brushwood.

PUBESCENS – is about its hairyness.

I would not be suprised if someone in the past made brooms out of its twigs.

4.Cyathochaeta avenacea (Cyperaceae):

CYATHOS (greek) – cup

CHAITE (greek) – long hair

AVENA – relates to oats as if it reminds them in some way. It is for sure a bowl/cup full of long stems/hairs.

5.Dampiera linearis (Goodeniaceae):

DAMPIER was the first English botanist who brought WA specimen to English herbarium

LINEARIS (Latin)- border. Does it apply to its wedge-shaped leaves I am not sure.

      DIANELLA Рwas the Roman Goddess of the hunt. I tend to believe that French botanist-explorer Philibert Commerson named it after his blue-eyed lover.

REVOLUTA -applies appearantly to its curly, in-rolled leaves.

BANKSIA- it uesd be called Dryandra for obvious reasons.

LINDLEYANA –¬† after another botanist who wanted to be remembered.



and as follows:

Hibbertia amplexicaulis
Hibbertia commutata
Hypolaena exsulca
Lechenaultia biloba
Lomandra species
Loxycarya cinerea
Pteridium esculentum
Scaevola calliptera
Tetraria capillaris
Tetraria octandra

Alcoa and Recalcitrantness

luminium is the third most abundant chemical element in the Earth’s crust (after oxygen and silicon) and somehow only Australia was blessed with huge areas with its condensed form = bauxites. I will not mention how much money they make but I want to show my big respect for what Alcoa Mining Company does for the environment. It seems to be the most green form of mining activities I have ever experienced. Luckily, bauxites are relocated in a patchy way across Jarrah forest, south of Perth. Therefore the excavating procedure is limited to ridges and flasks. Valleys stay untouched.

They remove vegetation, topsoil and overburden first. Then the big machines dig out the level of 1-4m red rock and transport it over to the refinery. Once they exhausted the site earthwork contractors start bringing overburden and topsoil back to where it was that is 1-4 m lower of course. And Marrinup nursery brings life back to this place. The recalcitrant plants that is the one who abandoned seed production are propagated in the sterile conditions of tissue culture facilities. They are grown in very luxurious conditions Рaway from parasites, in sealed jars filled with sugar and microelements. They even do not bother to send out roots in there. It is a big dose of  ecological knowledge we gain thanks to Alcoa.

Atlas of Living Australia

Australian Ringneck (Barnardius zonarius) is one of many living creatures inhabiting place of my interest = Jandakot Airport in Perth, WA. I know it thanks to ALA.

While being recently in Sydney I had a chance to take part in a lecture promoting this internet based platform integrating all information on Australian biodiversity. If you are an ecologist it might be more addictive than facebook.

The Atlas of Living Australia is one of the most comprehensive database of biodiversity information. It is a very friendly tool for the  researchers, with rich GIS capabilities. To view go to: