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Region’s threatened orchids given a fighting chance

News release
23 July 2018

Five threatened species of native orchids have had a boost thanks to a five-year project aimed at increasing their wild populations.

The project to grow and plant the orchids is a collaboration between the South East Natural Resources Management Board, Natural Resources South East and Nature Glenelg Trust (NGT), funded by the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

NGT Ecologist Bryan Haywood said they focused on five threatened species: the metallic sun-orchid, swamp green-hood, Maroon Leek-orchid, elegant spider-orchid, and Little Dip spider-orchid.

“The Little Dip spider-orchid is of particular interest, as the South East of South Australia is the only place in the world that it’s found,” Mr Haywood said.

“It is one of a group of orchids that is pollinated by a specific wasp. The male wasps are deceived into thinking that the orchid is a female wasp, then when the wasp then tries to mate with it, it pollinates the flower.”

Growing, transplanting and monitoring the orchids was a big task, and each orchid was labelled with a pin marker when planted to allow for future monitoring.

“We were able to return to each site and count how many leaves had emerged each year, then later in the season we’d go back to see how many had flowered,” Mr Haywood said.

“We planted orchids at nine sites throughout the region, and we’ve had a fantastic result with seven populations remaining viable.

“Our annual monitoring has indicated that they’re still surviving, still flowering and at one site at Beachport, we’ve had new orchids appear.”

The orchid project forms part of the larger Restoring Under-represented Ecological Communities project, supported by the South East Natural Resources Management Board, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

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Media and Communications Coordinator