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Which flower is that? The practices, principles and implications of taxonomy, with Kevin Thiele – at the DRB

11 October 2019, 7:15 pm-9:30 pm

One of the joys of living in the Perth Hills and the SW of WA generally, is the amazing diversity and beauty of our local flowers and plants. We are blessed to live amongst a bio-diversity hotspot with abundant flower and plant species. The issue is, though, do you know which flower or plant is which? Can you tell the difference between a hakea, a banksia and a grevillea? Even more difficult, can you tell one grevillea from another, or one hibbertia from another? It isn’t easy but it can be very satisfying to be able to identify what is growing in our bush, local reserves and gardens. This is your wonderful opportunity to learn how to identify them, to understand their taxonomy, and to learn from THE expert in the area, Dr Kevin Thiele, former Director of the Western Australian Herbarium and co-author of “Families of Flowering Plants of Australia: An Interactive Identification Guide”.

It is also a wonderful opportunity to learn all about taxonomy before we go on our survey of the flora at Kulin the following weekend – to check we are identifying the plants correctly!

Talk Topic:

“Taxonomists often get a bad rap, mostly because we keep changing the names of species. But on the flip side, the names given by taxonomists are the foundation on which we all depend to understand our living world – imagine if there were no names for the organisms we share our planet with. Imagine a David Attenborough documentary, or a meeting of the Western Australian Naturalists, if taxonomists hadn’t worked out what species are out there and given them names. This talk will be about taxonomy – the science of discovering and naming species – how it works, what it seeks to do, and where it’s going. Did you know there have been two major revolutions in the way we understand taxonomy? Or that we’re still in the middle of the second of these? Did you know that in over 200 years of exploring Australia’s rich and unique biodiversity we’ve only managed to discover and name around 30% of our species? Do you know how we can hope to discover the remaining 70% before most of them go extinct? This talk will explore all these questions, and explain the practices, principles and implications of taxonomy in relation to our local plants.



Dr Kevin Thiele PhD, has had a long career as a professional botanist and is the former Director of the Western Australian Herbarium and now an Adjunct Senior Lecturer, at the University of Western Australia, specialising in systematic botany. He is also currently the Director of Taxonomy Australia, an organisation established to promote and advocate for the discovery and documentation of all of Australia’s species. He is a plant taxonomist with a keen interest both in species discovery (he’s discovered and named more than 40 new species, many in Western Australia) and in bringing a better understanding of taxonomy and biodiversity to a wide audience. He has an interest in systematics, evolution, identification tools, and explaining the practices, principles and implications of taxonomy to community groups. He is also the co-author of “Families of Flowering Plants of Australia: An Interactive Identification Guide”.

Don’t worry about being bored – he has been voted as one the most inspiring lecturers in the UWA Student Guild Student Choice Awards.

PLEASE NOTE NEW VENUE: This is our first night in our new venue: Woodlupine Hall, 88 Hale Road, Forrestfield. Come join with us in celebrating this new beginning for the DRB Nats.

It is a modern, well-equipped and large venue all on one level with easy access, plenty of parking and plenty of seats. It is expensive and out of our normal range for venue hire but a big thanks to the City of Kalamunda who accepted our application to waive the normal fee. How lucky we are. There are very few good, large enough, venues available on a Friday night and we have made an exhaustive search before settling on this.

Target audience: This will be suitable for anyone who is interested in flowers, plants, trees and their identification, or taxonomy generally, from scientists to amateurs, and children to elderly adults! Bring the whole family – aged 6yrs onwards. We are a family friendly group.


  1. Kids’ talk – One of your younger members, Gemma, aged 8, will be giving a 5 minutes kids’ talk on “FROGS”.
  2. Monthly nature competition for children. When a child (under 16) comes along to a meeting they are invited to bring a drawing, craft work, story, study or video on the topic to the next meeting. Small prizes are given each month. Thus, any child who was at our September talk on “Kangaroo Paws” can enter the competition this month and bring along something they have made, researched or written on that topic.
  3. Nature road show”. Members and visitors are encouraged to bring items to place on the display table or to send photographs to the MC in advance, e.g. a sample flower, a sample of geology, an insect, and so on – anything of natural history interest that has legally been obtained. One of our experts will identify them or briefly talk about them, or the person bringing them can talk about where they saw it, etc. Photographs are particularly welcome, as everyone can see them. If you wish to show a photograph please email it, no later than the day before, to Rachel our MC for this night, and she will include it on her PowerPoint slides: DRB@wanaturalists.org.au
  4. Raffle: Our first raffle in our new home – please raid your piggy bank for a bit more cash, $5 for 3 tickets. Prizes to be announced – but flora related and magnificent in celebration of our new beginning.
  5. Door prizes: You could also be the lucky winner of a door prize. We make sure there are prizes for both members and visitors.

Time: Please come early at 7.15pm for a 7.30pm start as we start promptly. We are open from 7pm. We finish formal proceedings at 9.20pm and stay for refreshments and socialising afterwards any time up until 10.20pm.

Donation: All this for only a donation of $3 per person for adult members ($0 for child members), and $5 per adult visitor and $1 per visiting child. Includes tea and coffee and home-made cake and biscuits (including gluten free). Please bring the right CASH to help us avoid long queues. Thanks. No EFTPOS is available.

Entrance: Doors are open for members at 6.45pm. Entry is open to visitors at 7pm. Please note everyone needs to sign in on arrival and leave their contact details (just an email is fine), thank you.

Parking: Free parking right outside.

Wheelchair access: Everything is on one level.

Bookings: Bookings are not required. Come early to get a seat at the front. There is plenty of room in our new venue.


11 October 2019
7:15 pm-9:30 pm
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