• Science

Wimmera orchid introductions thriving

With orchids comprising 17% of our nations most rare and threatened native flora, ensuring these species survive is more important than ever before. The Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria's Orchid Conservation Program team, led by Research Scientist Dr Noushka Reiter and the Victorian branch of the Australasian Native Orchid Society (ANOS), have been working in the Wimmera region during the winter months to reintroduce rare and threatened orchid species back into the wild. The reintroduction process involves regular site maintenance to ensure that the newly established seedlings are surviving.

In the last month, the team has planted 200 Caladenia fulva plants. Commonly known as the Tawny Spider-orchid, Caladenia fulva is endangered, and only found in a small area around Stawell to Ararat in the wild. The 200 plants come in addition to the 500 plants that were previously introduced to a property outside of Stawell, which is protected with a Trust for Nature covenant.

Another orchid species the team has introduced to the Wimmera is the vulnerable Thelymitra mackibbinii (Brilliant Sun-orchid), which was previously restricted to just a few isolated populations of less than 100 plants. “Hand cross-pollination of these isolated populations has increased its seed viability and resulted in stronger, healthier plants that have been introduced to form additional populations in the Box-Ironbark forests near Stawell, tripling the known number of plants in the wild. A further 400 plants will be introduced next winter" said Dr Reiter. 

The vital introduction and monitoring work the team is undertaking has been made possible through the generous donation of time and expertise from ANOS members who have gathered from across Victoria to volunteer on this project. The project is funded through the Victorian Government’s Biodiversity On-ground Action grants, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning Community and Volunteer Action grants, Australian Network for Plant Conservation, Wimmera CMA, Parks Victoria, Trust for Nature, Project Platypus and private landholders. To read more about this project, click here

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