Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority’s Luke Sweedman has called time on a stellar career as Curator Western Australian Seed Centre, a unique position that saw him travel extensively throughout the State and internationally.
For 31 years Luke has made an outstanding contribution to the conservation of WA flora by collecting seeds from native plants for research, safekeeping and propagation.
With a love for native flora and the outdoors, Luke said he has had the best of both worlds.
'I love the freedom of the bush, travelling to some of the least populated places in the world. It’s peaceful and a joy. Then I return to Kings Park and work with some of WA’s most knowledgeable people in this field', he said.
Luke enjoyed sharing his expertise with others, whether with work colleagues, volunteers or the many people he came across on his travels. For 10 years Luke led paid outback eco tours for native plant enthusiasts, which proved to be a successful community engagement and education initiative.
Luke played an integral role in Kings Park’s partnership with the Millennium Seed Bank, the biggest wild plant conservation project in the world. More than 3,500 species from WA have been duplicated at the Millenium Seed Bank, and Luke made the second largest number of deposits of any collector in the world notching up more than 2,000 separate species.
In addition, Luke spent 10 years co-authoring the book Australian Seeds, A Guide to their Collection, Identification and Biology with David Merritt, published in 2006.
Speaking at Luke's retirement function on Wednesday 24 February, former Senior Curator and long-time collaborator Grady Brand said one of Luke’s most notable achievements was the co-discovery of a new species of Eucalypt.
'During a trip to Cape Arid with former Kings Park Director Steve Hopper in 2005, Luke and Steve discovered a new species of mallee. It was a fitting tribute tribute to Luke’s outstanding contribution to the conservation of the WA flora that Eucalyptus sweedmaniana was named in his honour, a living tribute to his life’s work', Grady said.
Luke also discovered several other species including Calandrinia butcherensis and Tetratheca nephelioides. More recently, he and Grady Brand co-discovered a new tree acacia growing near Yinnetharra station beside the Gascoyne River, Acacia sp Yinnetharra.
The Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority would like to extend its thanks to Luke, and wish him a very happy retirement spent with family and friends.