How the Victorian Conservation Seedbank is Saving Caladenia audasii

Known from just a handful of plants in the wild, Caladenia audasii (Audas's spider orchid) has long been one of Victoria’s most threatened native orchids. The striking species grows less than 20 cm tall and features a single hairy leaf and a vibrant yellow flower. Endemic to the west and central goldfields of Victoria where it grows in shallow, stony soil, its numbers are increasingly dwindling as human impact and climate change takes a toll on this, and many other beautiful native orchids.

Thanks to the combined work of the Garden's Victorian Conservation Seedbank team and Orchid Conservation Program, seeds were collected from the few remaining wild plants, then dehydrated and stored in the Seedbank's underground freezers. A duplicate seedlot has been sent to the Millennium Seed Bank at Kew Gardens in England for safekeeping. Fresh seeds were germinated and grown on at RBG Cranbourne and this has resulted in the successful growth of hundreds of Caladenia audasii plants, which have been translocated back into protected habitats. 

With 17% of Australia’s nationally threatened flora being composed of orchids, Caladenia audasii is just one of many rare and threatened orchid species that the Victorian Conservation Seedbank team has been working to save. In 2014 the Gardens partnered with the Australian Network for Plant Conservation’s Orchid Conservation Program. The program has successfully collected, germinated and propagated some of the most unique and complex orchid species in south-eastern Australia, and in June this year they will be hosting a series of workshops as part of the 2019 Orchid Conservation Symposium. The symposium will unite community groups, practitioners and scientists to encourage collaboration and engage and educate the community on current orchid conservation research in the field.

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