Thank you to Monocotyledon@Flickr aka Margaret Morgan of Sydney, Australia for sharing another Australian plant image with BPotD (original | BPotD Flickr Group Pool | Margaret’s weblog: Growing Passion). I rarely manipulate other people’s images other than cropping or a very subtle amount of contrast enhancement, but when I do, I like to admit it. This one is pretty obvious anyway – I’ve cloned out a distracting strand of fibre in the upper-right corner of the original image. If that’s not alright with you, Margaret, let me know and I’ll post the original (and thank you!).
Flannel flower, or Sydney flannel flower, is native to eastern Australia. As you call tell from the green-tipped white leafy bracts subtending the globular cluster of small flowers, its common name is the result of the woolly surface on the bracts (and indeed, most of the above-ground plant). The Australian National Botanic Garden provides an excellent intern-written article about Actinotus helianthi, which covers details about the name, the ecology of the species and a fair description. The Association of Societies for Growing Australian Plants also has a page on Actinotus helianthi, but I note it disagrees with the ANBG version regarding propagation success of fresh seed.
On a different topic, a few of you have asked what’s happening to BPotD after it hits the thousandth entry in a week-and-a-half or so. To be truthful, I haven’t had much time to give it a lot of thought or move the institutional wheels much; I’ve been busy with the project you’ll see at the end of January. The attempts I’ve made at securing funding for a student intern haven’t progressed very far, but that’s just the reality of the university’s situation. Other ideas, like setting up an easy way to make small donations, are going to take some time and require nudging along the university’s central development office in adopting new models for giving.
I suppose we don’t brag often enough (we are Canadian, after all). I was interviewed for the local paper a few weeks ago (the article will appear in January) about the garden’s web site, but perhaps I should share a few stats with you now that might appear in the article. The garden’s web site, thanks to BPotD and the forums (and thanks to the many, many people who freely contribute on the forums), receives roughly the same amount of web traffic as Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew’s and Missouri Botanical Garden’s web sites. During summer months, the site receives over 300 000 unique visitors over the span of month, and half a million visits including repeats. The garden’s budget is roughly 1/50 that of Kew or Missouri, so the web presence of UBC BG far outstrips what it should proportionally have. The idea of inviting people to the site to talk about plants seems to be a successful one.
Back to the topic at hand, though: it is looking like the work on BPotD may be distributed among a few of the other staff members, at least until funding can be secured for an intern. I’m planning to contribute a couple times a week, as long as it can be done during regular work hours. Also, I’m hoping to convince the bryophytes class at UBC to contribute one entry per week from January to the end of March. For UBC’s Research Week celebrations in mid-March, I’m also hoping that researchers and grad students at UBC will contribute a week’s worth (or more) of entries about their plant research. So, BPotD is not going to go away, it just might operate in fits and starts until we figure out a new and sustainable way of doing it. The good news, though, is that I’ll be able to make the long dreamed-of improvements to the site once I have more free time and attention.