Vale Alison McCusker PhD (1933-2015), Australian botanist and planner of the massive Flora of Australia project that began in 1975. McCusker made an enormous contribution to our national knowledge of Australian plants.
Prior to the publishing of the first volume of Flora of Australia in 1981, the most comprehensive description of Australia’s flora was the 100 year-old work of George Bentham.
McCusker’s organisational abilities were an essential part of co-ordinating the input of botanists from around Australia. She also became Assistant Secretary and head of the Environment Strategy Division in the Commonwealth Department of Sports and Territories, working to have the heritage values of our natural ecosystems, such as the rainforests of Far North Queensland recognised both in Australia and internationally.
In the late 1980s she also made global contributions as Deputy Director of the UN’s International Plant Genetic Resources Institute and, on her return to Australia, continued work on further volumes of Flora of Australia. She was awarded an OAM in 2009.