Indigenous Plants of the Greater Melbourne Area
There is probably no other corner of Victoria where so many different influences on plant distribution collide I than the Greater Melbourne area.
The enormous volcanic lava plain to the west of the city, the deep sands of the south-east, the coast, the Yarra and Maribyrnong Rivers, the Dandenong Ranges combine to make a unique and diverse landscape. And of course, more recently, the ever-increasing human population brings with it further influence, not only destruction of habitat, but the introduction of new exotic species.
This is the fourth edition of the Flora of Melbourne (previous editions in 1991, 1993 and 2001). From its inception, the Flora has been a labour of love by members of the Maroondah chapter of the Australian Plants Society. With the increasing existence of new technologies, allowing for the aggregation of databases and generally enhanced lines of communication, the volume of new information generated that must be meticulously checked also increases.
As well as this of course is the inevitable progress (some may dispute this term) of taxonomic research that results in a large volume of name changes and consequent checking to result in an accurate, up-to-date account.
Books like this inevitably result in a more informed public, leading to new discoveries of both native and naturalised exotic species, further complicating the task and enriching the knowledge base. The entire project becomes one of trying to pin down a moving target, but in documenting the flora at a point in time, a benchmark is created within a changing landscape. Transformations occur, not only directly through processes such as vegetation clearance, urban growth and weed incursion, but more insidiously perhaps, through the influence of a changing climate.
The calamitous fires of Black Saturday, for example, impacted on some of the area covered by this book and the changes wrought by that event are likely to continue for well into the future.
As with previous editions, the Flora is much more than a 'phone-book' of the botanical residents of the area. As well as concise descriptions and line drawings that capture the essence of each of the 1367 species of native plant, there are colour plates of the vast majority of these. This is roughly one-third of the native component of the state's flora and better than a half of the exotic species.
As with previous editions there are chapters on managing bushland areas, soils of the area, the original vegetation of Melbourne based on the concept of Ecological Vegetation Classes, and lists of important bushland reserves with examples of Melbourne's original vegetation, allowing glimpses of the extraordinary floral diversity that once graced what are, in most cases, now ungraceful suburbs.
Each of these chapters has been updated to capture new information.
While acknowledging that this project is a collaborative effort, special mention should be made of the author, Marilyn Bull, who revised the entire text, co-ordinated contributions from specialists, photographed many of the species, sourced photographs for the remainder, and whose tireless devotion to the Flora has been maintained even through periods of personal adversity. Her commitment and that of illustrator, George Stolfo, whose fine linework efficiently convey the 'jizz' of the species treated, have seen the current Flora develop from an excellent, if daunting prospect, to the fine product you now encounter.
For many years to come, users of the Flora of Melbourne will be the beneficiaries of their extraordinary contribution and, dare we hope, as threats increase, the plants and associated biota still residing in the Greater Melbourne area will be better protected through a greater knowledge of their identity and biology.
To know the flora of the Melbourne area is an enormous springboard to knowing the flora of the entire state. Whether to be used as a resource for re-establishing the original vegetation of an area, as a field guide, or as a means to select suitable plants for a native amenity garden, this book will admirably satisfy the needs of the reader.