Finding Botany Gold
Today was my final day in the field and I was lucky enough to accompany three very talented botanists (Shelley James, Ben Anderson and Adrienne Markey). We were taken to site via helicopter, which was just as exciting as the first time. The pilot was very skillful at landing at this site because there was only one very small beach where it was possible to land. After very explicit instructions on getting out, to follow the shoreline and to NOT go up the sand bank (the chopper doesn’t power down!), we safely exited and were confronted with the most beautiful site yet.
This site was Botany gold, there was a pool from the river, which contained a number of different carnivorous plants, a rainforest like habitat from the waterfall coming down and the more traditional Kimberly rocky plants in the dryer areas. We spent hours scaling the cliffs and beach to collect each of the plant samples. I mostly stayed near the bottom of the rock face, collecting samples thrown down to me and helping Shelley to press the plants and take DNA samples.
Plant pressing is very straightforward, though the botanists were very careful to keep the original shape of the plant as much as possible, as well as have the entire plant – roots, shoots and flowers for morphology. They were also meticulous with their notes, ensuring they tagged and wrote notes on the location (GPS), possible species, habitat found and what samples they had collected for each plant. Due to the sheer diversity of the site, we ran out of time and had to make a run for the helicopter – who was very proud of the fact that he parked in the exact same track marks as in the morning! Flying through the gorge was again a highlight – and I think pilot Sam wanted to show off how beautiful flying through a gorge was!