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It has been a busy few months for Wimmera CMA's Orchid Conservation Project. Keep checking into this page for the latest news about this program and orchids in the Wimmera!
Wimmera orchid display rivals WA
Date of release: October 23, 2012
Written by Melissa Pouliot, for Wimmera CMA
For the first few days the group dodged showers and strong wind gusts. Undeterred, around 30 volunteers from the Australasian Native Orchid Society donned rain jackets and continued with their search for elusive endangered orchids.
Heads down, bottoms up, the group scanned for the orchids at ground level in the Wimmera’s state and national parks around Ararat, Pomonal, Murtoa, Nhill, Edenhope and Kaniva.
On the fourth day the volunteers struck gold; finding what Wimmera orchid researcher Dr Noushka Reiter describes as an ‘absolutely spectacular wildflower show that would seriously rival anything Western Australia has to offer’.
Dr Reiter, Orchid Conservation Project Manager based at Wimmera Catchment Management Authority, said the Elegant Spider-orchids near Edenhope were the best display she had seen in the Wimmera.
"Due to a unique culmination of summer fires and timely rain, it is the best display ‘bar none’ that I have seen in this region,” Dr Reiter said. “These are truly stunning displays of orchids. We have also been fortunate to be able to pollinate some of the plants that will allow us to get seed for future propagation at the Wimmera Orchid Conservation Facility in Horsham.”
The group found 65 Wimmera Spider-orchids, Caladenia lowanensis, in the Little Desert National Park. They also found 70 Elegant Spider-orchids, Caladenia formosa, near Edenhope. There are only four known populations of the Wimmera Spider-orchid and six of the Elegant Spider-orchid in Victoria. Both orchids are listed as Federally Vulnerable under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
Dr Reiter said the findings would help secure the survival of the endangered species.
Australasian Native Orchid Society member for 25 years Richard Thompson described the findings as an ‘excellent day’s work’.
“These kinds of finds are what we do it for. I just can’t describe the enjoyment of finding something that is so rare and then helping protect it,” Mr Thompson said.
See photos of the historic first planting at Kiata near Nhill:
Date of release: June 8, 2012
A breakthrough in a Wimmera-based orchid research project could be the saviour of endangered species across Australia and the world.
The Metallic Sun-orchid, of which only 30 are left in the Wimmera and 1000 worldwide, will be the first federally-endangered species to benefit.
After three years of laboratory research into propagation and mycorrhizal associations, the Wimmera Horsham Orchid Conservation Facility has developed a process to potentially grow thousands of orchids.
Project team members and volunteers will introduce 3000 Metallic Sun-orchids to four sites in south-west Victoria in the next 12 months, starting with two sites in the Little Desert National Park this month (June).
Dr Noushka Reiter, Orchid Conservation Project Manager based at Wimmera Catchment Management Authority, said this was the first large scale reintroduction of an endangered orchid species in Australia.
“It is seen as the ‘holy grail’ for long-term conservation and protection of Australia’s endangered orchid species,” Dr Reiter said. “This is the result of leading science and research, community participation, local knowledge and government support.”
Dr Reiter said the Metallic Sun-orchid, listed as endangered at state and national levels, was known for flowering in a variety of vibrant metallic colours such as red blue, purple, green and yellow.
“This species is one of the larger orchids and it’s a gorgeous plant. It was once widespread across south eastern Australia but due to habitat destruction and fragmentation has declined to only 1000 plants in the world,” she said.
“We are now looking at a bright future for this endangered species thanks to the many individuals, groups and organisations involved in this project.”
The project team includes the Australian Orchid Foundation, Australian Native Orchid Society, RMIT University, Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, Department of Sustainability and Environment, Department of Primary Industries, Wimmera CMA, Parks Victoria and many enthusiastic volunteers. The Australian Government Caring for our Country initiative also contributes funding to the project.
“The difference between growing orchids and something like a eucalypt is that the orchid seed won’t germinate without its fungal partner. For germination you need to isolate and introduce the seed and fungi; it’s quite an involved and complicated process. This is why you need a specialist laboratory.”
Dr Reiter said threats to orchids included rabbits and weeds such as veldt grass.