Metallic sun-orchid still shining in places unknown
22 February 2022
On private property on the Narrung Peninsula, a new population of the nationally endangered metallic sun-orchid (Thelymitra epipactoides) has been found.
The ecology program is supported by the Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program and the landscape levies.
Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board Ecologist Kate Graham said that following a community flora walk run by Samantha Blight from the Coorong District Council, one of the attendees, Robert Mrongovius, started to think about the native plants he had seen recently during his walks.
“Robert Mrongovius who is an enthusiastic plant propagator from Narrung, realised he had found a population of the endangered metallic sun-orchid, so contacted us,” Kate said.
“He took us to the area where we were greeted with the most incredible sight of more than 80 of the rare orchids growing!
Kate said the last time this orchid species was recorded near here was in the 1960s and that was 5 km from this current location.
There was some grazing, and trampling damage noticed between monitoring visits. So Robert Mrongovius and Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board District Officer Bec Gould will set up tree guards around some of the more scattered orchids next spring.
“Bec Gould set up remote cameras facing the main population to help determine what was damaging the orchids. The information will assist in developing a plan to ensure this significant population has the best chance of thriving.
“Robert has obviously got his eye in for spotting the rare orchid. He went on to find 2 more populations of the metallic sun-orchid on a property south of Meningie,” Kate said.
There was a very old record close to this site, but no one had officially recorded the orchids in the area for decades!
Robert said that his finds illustrate the great value of these types of guided walks for the public.
“Let’s hope there will be more exciting discoveries of this rare beauty into the future,” he said.