It's a rule of taxonomy that no two animals or plants can have the same genus name, for obvious reasons of clarity. However there is nothing to prevent a plant and an animal genus from being identically named, and a truly iconic Canberra animal and a less-celebrated but beautiful little Canberra plant have the same (or virtually the same) name.
A commonly occurring word-stem in names - especially of plants it seems - is calli- or cali-, from the Greek word meaning beautiful. (The Australian bottlebrushes, Callistemon, are an obvious example.)
|Callistemon rugulosus, Eyre Peninsula, South Australia.|
The genus name means 'beautiful stamens'.
Another, in both plants and animals, is cephalo-, meaning a head. (Squids are cephalopods - head feet!)
Putting the two together, as Callocephalon, or Calocephalus (the final form may vary slightly, based as it is on one taxonomist's conversion of a Greek word into a Latinised form), we get of course 'beautiful head'. The Gang-Gang Cockatoo is one of the best reasons to live in Canberra, which is the only city in the world where Gang-Gangs can be regularly found even in the city centre. The loping flight, the male's foppishly floppy and wispy red coiffure and the creaky calls, reminding me of the time when accessing a bottle of wine meant extracting a cork, all make this smallest cockatoo a most endearing neighbour.
|Gang-gang Cockatoo Callocephalon fimbriatum, Canberra;|
male above, female below.
Unsurprisingly the Gang-Gang is the faunal emblem of the Australian Capital Territory, and the symbol of our Parks Service and the Canberra Ornithologists Group (actually we're just bird-watchers, but our founders were a bit snobby and it's too good an acronym to give up apparently).
The plant I mentioned is much more modest little character, a summer-flowering daisy of grasslands, with effectively the same name in Latin and English - Calocephalus citreus, Lemon Beauty-head. In the close-up we can see the tiny florets that make up the daisy flower-head, which we talked about last month.
Two very lovely and very characteristic Canberrans; and neither is just a pretty head...