Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

Plant Diversity Research

Our plant systematics research is about discovering, documenting and classifying plants, and understanding their relationships and evolution. The National Herbarium of NSW is the leading agency for plant systematics in New South Wales.

The primary focus of our research is the native flora of NSW, but we also take an active interest in plants of neighbouring states, countries and sources of naturalised plants - after all, plants don’t respond to political boundaries! We also investigate the evolutionary relationships of our native plants with those of other regions.

Our systematics research involves: discovering, naming and describing plant species, determining and characterising the relationships between plant taxa, and modifying plant classification to reflect improved knowledge of plant relationships.

Our research laboratories are based at the Royal Botanic Garden. Our scientists’ research is published in a number of scientific publications, including our plant systematics journal Telopea.

Current programs & projects

Our team


  • Marco Duretto (Manager Plant Diversity) - Rutaceae, Goodeniaceae

Science staff

  • Wayne Cherry (Technical Officer PlantNET)
  • Barry Conn (Principal Research Scientist) - Westringieae (Lamiaceae), Chloantheae (Lamiaceae), Lecantheae (Urticaceae), trees of Papua New Guinea, plants of Lord Howe Island, Logania (Loganiaceae)
  • Carolyn Connelly (Molecular Laboratory Coordinator)
  • Richard Jobson - (Systematic Botanist) - phylogenetics, taxonomy, Lentibulariaceae, aquatic plants, systematics and evolution in plants and animals
  • Seanna McCune (Senior Technical Officer) - Botanical Information Service
  • Bob Makinson (Coordinator Centre for Plant Conservation) - Grevillea, Astrotricha
  • Yola Metti  (ABRS postdoctoral research fellow) - Laurencia of Australia  
  • Louisa Murray (Flora Botanist)
  • Nathalie Nagalingum - (Systematic Botanist) - ferns, cycads, gymnosperms, paleobotany, fossils, molecular dating, phylogenetics, diversity 
  • Andrew Orme (Technical Officer) - Botanical Information Service
  • Matthew Renner (ABRS postdoctoral research fellow)
  • Barbara Weicek (Botanist) - Botanical Information Service
  • Peter Weston (Senior Principal Research Scientist) - Proteaceae, Diurideae (Orchidaceae), basal-relictual angiosperms
  • Karen Wilson (Senior Research Scientist) - Cyperaceae, Casuarinaceae, Juncaceae, Polygonaceae
  • Peter Wilson (Senior Research Scientist) - Chamelaucium alliance (Myrtaceae), Myrtaceae clade of the order Myrtales, Babingtonia (Myrtaceae), Indigofera pratensis, Indigofereae (Fabaceae)
  • Trevor Wilson (ABRS postdoctoral research fellow)

Honorary Research Associates

  • Alan Archer - lichen taxonomy and chemotaxonomy; Graphidaceae of Australia and SE pacific region
  • Barbara Briggs - Restionaceae, Poales, Ecdeicoleaceae, Australian Ranunculus, Australian Veroniceae, Proteaceae
  • Carrick Chambers - biogeography and taxonomy of Blechnum, Pteridoblechnum, Stenochlaena and Brainea, taxonomy of the Cheilanthes in the Australian region
  • Gwen Harden - rainforest florisitics and regeneration of rainforests
  • Peter Hind - Research on the Ferns of Australia
  • Peter Michael - weeds: taxonomy, biology, distribution and history, especially Oxalis
  • Peter Olde - Systematics of Grevillea, phylogeny of Hakeinae
  • Christopher Quinn - systematics of Styphelioideae, Vittadinia complex, Astereae, Chamelaucium alliance, Myrtaceae, conifers
  • Helen Ramsay - taxonomy and cytology of mosses
  • Bettye Rees - Australian macrofungi, the former Cortinariaceae, Hebeloma, Gymnopilus, Phaeocollybia, Amantia poisoning, Fungimap
  • Geoffrey Sainty - Waterplants, weeds
  • John Thomson - biogeography and phylogeny of bracken ferns

Research students

  • Sarah Fayed - Phylogeny and pollination biology of Helicia (Proteaceae)
  • Kerry Gibbons - Phylogeny and biogeography of Mitrasacme s. lat. (Loganiaceae)
  • Melita Milner (nee Baum) - Phylogeography of Lomatia and Telopea (Proteaceae)
  • Paul Musili - Systematics studies in Schoenus L. (Schoeneae, Cyperaceae)
  • Huy Chung Nguyen - Circumscription of Iand Merrillia (Sapindales: Rutaceae: Aurantioideae) and susceptibility of species and forms to huanglongbing
  • George Plunkett - Studies in Lepidosperma (Cyperaceae)
  • Zoe Reynolds - Phylogenetic, taxonomic and functional turnover among Proteaceae assemblages

As boys to wanton flies are we to the gods, they mock us for their sport (with apologies to Willian Shakespeare) Leucadendron loranthifolium (Proteaceae) male inflorescence with visiting flies, western outskirts of Clanwilliam, South Africa. Photo: Peter Weston. 

Grevillea insignis: This species is a bird-pollinated shrub native to the heathlands of south-western Australia. It belongs to an extraordinarily diverse clade within Grevillea that is distributed across much of the Australian continent, from central Australia deserts to the tropical rainforests of Papua New Guinea, varying from prostrate shrubs to tall forest trees and including bird- and insect-pollinated species. Photo: Peter Weston

Swainsona-formosa: Photo Andrew Orme

Serruria hirsuta (Cape Peninsula), Photo: Peter Weston

Cone-like gall on she-oak. Guy Fawkes National Park, Photo: Emma McIntosh

collecting water plants