Saturday 2 August 2014

Lyn Gras

Lyn Gras -- botanic artist

Pycnosorus pleiocephalus -- Billy Button

Why were you interested in being involved with the Beckler Project?

I am interested in Burke and Wills because I have an ancestor who was involved in early exploration of inland Australia and northern South Australia, at about the same time -- around 1850. That interest in exploration, because of my family, sparked the enthusiasm to become involved. It fitted in with my love of botanical art.

Lyn's work area
I am also interested because I live in the alpine area of Victoria, and like to illustrate the plants of that area. I thought it would be a great contrast, and wanted to be involved in something so worthwhile. I am really enthusiastic because I have been working on plants of the same genus that I have been working on at home.

What are you painting?

I am painting a billy button Pycnosorus pleiocephalus.

It is a beautiful plant because it has round yellow balls as flower heads on short stalks. Beautiful little round balls! The Alpine Billy Button from Mt Buller I have painted has longer stalks and much bigger flowers.
Pycnosorus pleiocephalus
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)

It's a small perennial with one to ten stalks, each with a yellow button on the end. It has small leaves that get smaller further up the stem. This species is special too because it has an extra flower 'bulge' out of some of the flower heads. It is the only one that does that.
The extra flower 'bulge', a distinctive feature of this plant.
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2013)

It is a member of the daisy family Asteraceae. The round ball is a compound flower consisting of multiple tiny, yellow flowers. I dissected the flower head, looked at it under the microscope and I am now drawing the little parts that comprise the flower -- the florets, bracts, anthers, and even the hairs on the leaves.

Out in Kinchega National Park there are beautiful drifts of these flowers amongst other daisies, salt bush and prickly acacia.

How will you paint it?

I will do a watercolour painting of the whole plant and graphite pencil drawings of what I have seen down the microscope.

Will it take me long to do? Yes! About 4 to 6 weeks to complete.
The mature seeds (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2013)

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