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Bauer was an Austrian plant illustrator hand-picked by Sir Joseph Banks to be part of the famous expedition to Australia in 1801 under the command of Matthew Flinders.

Under the direction of botanist Robert Brown, Bauer made illustrations of over 1500 plants and 300 animals. It was for the work of Ferdinand Bauer that a genus, Bauera, and several plant species with a credit of baueri were named.

Ferdinand Bauer’s works were held in such high esteem by Sir Joseph Banks that he was heralded as the ‘Leonardo of plant illustrators’. Bauera sessiliflora is a dainty small bush with attractive magenta flowers found in southwest Victoria and first collected on the Flinders voyage. There are several plants of Bauera sessiliflora (introduced) growing around the Anglesea Lookout above the Great Ocean Road. It grows naturally in the Cape Bridgewater area outside Portland through to Kangaroo Island in SA.

bauerasessilifloraBauera sessiliflora

Bauer lived in Sydney and explored the Blue Mountains area outside Sydney in 1804 and personally discovered the attractive, hardy, montane shrub, named in his honour, Grevillea baueri.

grevilleabaueriGrevillea baueri

The large, distinctive, grey, woolly cones of Banksia baueri (also known as the Woolly or Teddy-Bear Banksia) is a native of WA. It was named by Robert Brown in Bauer’s honour in 1830, from specimens collected by Willian Baxter in 1829. (Both Brown and Baxter have been discussed in previous What’s in a Name articles).

banksiabaueriBanksia baueri

Of local interest is the Lasiopetalum baueri, (Slender Velvet-bush) which grows in thickets on the cliff tops between Sunnymead Beach and Split Point Lighthouse at Aireys Inlet. In dry conditions the plants can look bedraggled, saving moisture, but a splash of rain and the whole thicket lifts in vitality.

slendervelvetbushLasiopetalum baueri Slender Velvet-bush

Ferdinand Bauer became a ‘superstar’ illustrator and painter of botanical specimens in his era and Australia was fortunate to have him record our flora and fauna in perfect detail. He perfected a detailed, coded, colour-scheme to paint the illustrations he painstakingly penned on his voyages of discovery. For more information find the book, Painting by Numbers, The Life and Art of Ferdinand Bauer by David J. Mabberley.

Neville Millen