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IUCN/SSC Cycad Specialist Group




Ken Hill Memorial Page

Photo provided by Leonie Stanberg

The IUCN/SSC Cycad Specialist Group is sad to report that Ken Hill died on 4th August in Sydney, Australia, after a long illness. Ken had been a member of the Cycad Specialist Group from its early years and was very active during the 1990ís when he worked on revisions of the Asian and Australian cycad floras. He was an excellent field botanist and systematist and his extensive fieldwork resulted in the description of > 50 new cycad species. As a result of his intimate knowledge of Asian and Australian cycads, Ken took the lead in Red Listing these groups for the 2003 IUCN/ SSC Cycad Status Survey and Action Plan. He also initiated the Cycad Pages website, which has become an important source of information for scientists, enthusiasts and law enforcement agencies, and he was one of the compilers of the World List of Cycads, an authoritative list of accepted nomenclature that is updated every three years. We are fortunate that Ken has left us with a rich legacy of cycad papers and books that reflect his great contribution to our knowledge of this group of plants. Ken made many friends among his colleagues and his quiet wisdom and advice were greatly valued. Even when he became ill and was unable to work, he continued to make contributions and was regularly consulted on issues relating to cycad taxonomy and conservation. His great bearded presence will be sorely missed and we extend our condolences to his family.

August 2010 issue of the IUCN/SSC e-Bulletin

Photo provided by Leonie Stanberg

The following statement was issued on the "Taxacom" e-group by a colleague at the National Herbarium of New South Wales:

Australian botany has suffered another sad loss: Ken Hill has died after an extended and debilitating illness.

Ken had a long career here at NSW as a botanist, having previously been a geologist. He  worked closely with the late Lawrie Johnson on eucalypts, and became a world authority on them and cycads, with interests also in other groups such as Hoya. He took a keen interest in electronic presentation of data from the late 1980s, and was adept at writing programs and putting together websites. He played a key role in setting up PlantNET as our web-based way to deliver plant information (http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au).

Sadly, Ken's declining health meant that he had to retire early, in 2004. He died yesterday, two days before his 62nd birthday.

As one close colleague put it, Ken represented 'that mixture of humility, scientist and tech geek the world needs'.

We will all miss his quiet, amiable presence.

Karen L. Wilson AM  |  Senior Research Scientist Plant Diversity Section  |  National Herbarium of NSW  |  Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, Mrs Macquaries Road, SYDNEY NSW 2000, AUSTRALIA

Photo provided by Leonie Stanberg

The following correspondence followed the official statement above on the "Taxacom" e-group:

It is a sad news for Botanical community of Australia particularly and Eucalyptologists especially. Don McNair who founded the herbarium at the University of Newcastle talked about his occasional meetings with  Ken Hill and also expressed his sorrow and grief on the demise of an expert botanist. Works of Ken Hill will always be a source of inspiration to the future students of Eucalyptus. We, Don McNair and me, offer our condolences on the death of this young botanist. May his soul rest in peace.

Abdul Ghafoor
Conjoint Fellow,
Don McNair Herbarium,
Room # LS 1.03
Department of Biological Sciences,
The University of Newcastle,
Callaghan, Newcastle, NSW-2308


I would have assumed that the discovery of Wollemia nobilis was the high point of his career, but apparently that is too narrow a point of view...

Even a  very brief search leads quickly to The Cycad Pages, which look quite impressive, at http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/PlantNet/cycad/ ("Written and maintained by Ken Hill").

A distinguished botanist indeed,

Paul van Rijckevorsel
Utrecht, The Netherlands


You're quite right, Paul, that I should have mentioned Ken's work on conifers, including the famed Wollemia!

I guess that my thinking automatically focuses more on the eucalypts, which are foremost in nearly all Australians' thinking because they are such a big group and in just about every habitat in Australia. Ken was an author for the names of about 300 of the >800 species of eucalypt, mostly jointly with Lawrie Johnson.

As Ken wrote in his Eucalink pages on our PlantNET website:

'The eucalypts (the genera Angophora, Corymbia and Eucalyptus) are a botanical phenomenon unique to the Australian continent. Nowhere else in the world does a single genus of trees dominate the vegetation of an entire continent, and nowhere else does a single genus adapt and diversify into the totality of habitats as seen across the wide diversity of the Australian countryside.'

Ken did not get to finish his set of eucalypt webpages (http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/PlantNet/Euc/index.html), intended to be analogous to the Cycad Pages that he set up with Dennis Stevenson and others, before he had to stop work. However, what is there is still useful, including an online key to the eucalypt species known up to 6 years ago.

Karen Wilson


Ken's 1995 treatment of Corymbia with Laurie Johnson (Telopea 6: 185-504) was a remarkable synthesis of a difficult and diverse group. I emailed Ken to congratulate him on this work after he sent me a reprint.  Aspiring younger taxonomists may want to study this treatment as an example of excellent, thorough descriptive work.

Neil Snow
Hawaiian Biological Survey
Bishop Museum
Honolulu, Hawaii

Photo provided by Leonie Stanberg

Below is a list of Ken's cycad nomenclatural accomplishments:

Authored 51 species and 7 subspecies of Cycas 

C. aenigma K.D. Hill & A. Lindstr. (2008)

C. aculeata K.D. Hill & H.T. Nguyen (2004)

C. apoa K.D. Hill (1994)

C. arenicola K.D. Hill (1993)

C. arnhemica K.D. Hill (1994)

subsp. muninga Chirgwin & K.D. Hill (1996)

subsp. natja K.D. Hill (1996)

C. badensis K.D. Hill (1996)

C. bifida (Dyer) K.D. Hill (2004)

C. bougainvilleana K.D. Hill (1994)

C. brachycantha K.D. Hill, H.T. Nguyen & Phan K. Loc (2004)

C. brunnea K.D. Hill (1992)

C. campestris K.D. Hill (1994)

C. canalis K.D. Hill (1994)

C. candida K.D. Hill (2004)

C. chamaoensis K.D. Hill (1999)

C. clivicola K.D. Hill (1999)

subsp. lutea K.D. Hill (1999)

C. collina K.D. Hill, H.T. Nguyen & Phan K. Loc (2004)

C. condaoensis K.D. Hill & S.L. Yang (2004)

C. couttsiana K.D. Hill (1992)

C. curranii (J. Schust.) K.D. Hill (1995)

C. dolichophylla K.D. Hill, H.T. Nguyen & Phan K. Loc (2004)

C. elephantipes A. Lindstr. & K.D. Hill (2002)

C. falcata K.D. Hill (1999)

C. fugax K.D. Hill, H.T. Nguyen & Phan K. Loc (2004)

C. indica A. Lindstr. & K.D. Hill (2007)

C. lacrimans A. Lindstr. & K.D. Hill (2008)

C. lindstromii S.L. Yang, K.D. Hill & N.T. HiÍp (1997)

C. maconochiei Chirgwin & K.D. Hill (1996)

subsp. lanata K.D. Hill (1996)

subsp. viridis K.D. Hill (1996)

C. media subsp. banksii K.D. Hill (1996)

subsp. ensata K.D. Hill (1996)

C. megacarpa K.D. Hill (1992)

C. micronesica K.D. Hill (1994)

C. montana A. Lindstr. & K.D. Hill (2009)

C. nitida K.D. Hill & A. Lindstr. (2008)

C. nongnoochiae K.D. Hill (1999)

C. ophiolitica K.D. Hill (1992)

C. orientis K.D. Hill (1994)

C. pachypoda K.D. Hill (2004)

C. petraea A. Lindstr. & K.D. Hill (2002)

C. platyphylla K.D. Hill (1992)

C. pranburiensis S.L. Yang, W. Tang, K.D. Hill & P. Vatcharakorn (1999)

C. saxatilis  K.D. Hill & A. Lindstr. (2008)

C. semota K.D. Hill (1996)

C. silvestris K.D. Hill (1992)

C. simplicipinna (Smitinand) K.D. Hill (1995)

C. sundaica Miq. ex A.Lindstr. & K.D.Hill (2009)

C. taitungensis C.F. Shen, K.D. Hill, C.H. Tsou & C.J. Chen (1994)

C. tansachana K.D. Hill & S.L. Yang (1999)

C. tropophylla K.D. Hill & Phan K. Loc (2004)

C. tuckeri K.D. Hill (1996)

C. vespertilio A. Lindstr. & K.D. Hill (2008)

C. xipholepis K.D. Hill (1996)

C. yorkiana K.D. Hill (1996)

C. zeylanica (J. Schust.) A. Lindstr. & K.D. Hill (2002)



C. canalis var. carinata K.D. Hill = C. canalis

C. litoralis K.D. Hill = C. edentata


Authored 4 species of Macrozamia:

M. elegans K.D. Hill & D.L. Jones (1998)

M. johnsonii D.L. Jones & K.D. Hill (1992)

M. montana K.D. Hill (1998)

M. reducta K.D. Hill & D.L. Jones (1998)



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This page was updated on Saturday, 23 October 2010.