Returning the Water

Each month the Native Orchid Society of South Australia has a special speaker. April’s speaker was Mark Bachmann from Glenelg Nature Trust. He spoke on the The Hydrological Restoration of Glenshera Swamp, Stipiturus Conservation Park.

At time of settlement swamps were common on the Fleurieu Peninsula but now they have almost all but disappeared. This has come about because of the clearing of land for farming beginning in the 1940s. There are now very few swamps left in the area. As a result in this region, the swamp orchids potentially face extinction.

BUT Mark’s talk was a good news story. In April, the Glenelg Nature Trust with the help of the Conservation Volunteers Australia (a Green Army program) began the work of reinstating the original creek by the judicious placing of regulating structures along the principal drain.

The good news is that the water returned as they were building the structures.

It was also a good news story because of the cooperation of different groups including a local land owner who was willing to have some of their land returned to swamp and no longer be available for their horses to graze.

We look forward to seeing the swamp refill and learning how the orchids respond.

Below are some of the orchids found at Stipiturus. Click on the images to go to the three articles documenting the work at Glenshera Swamp.

Thelymitra cyanea
Thelymitra cyanea
Cryptostylis subulata 008
Cryptostylis subulata (Moose Orchid)
Prasophyllum murfettii sm
Prasophyllum murfettii (Denzel’s Leek Orchid)

Growing Leek Orchids – Is it Possible?

The Native Orchid Society of SA has been involved with the Threatened Orchid Project which is attempting to propagate some of our most threatened orchids.  There has been some success such as Thelymitra epicaptoides (Metallic Sun Orchids) but others are proving elusive.  Marc Freestone, from the Orchid Conservation Project, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, is a PhD student who is researching one such difficult to grow orchid genus, the Prasophyllum.

Prasophyllum murfettii sm
Prasophyllum murfettii (Denzel’s Leek Orchid)

To assist with his research Marc has the sent the following request.

CAN ANYONE GROW LEEK ORCHIDS?

South Australia has about 40 species and Victoria about 74 species of the native Leek Orchids, Prasophyllum.  Some are on the brink of extinction.

A major problem hampering efforts to prevent our Leek Orchids from going extinct is that they have proven next to impossible to grow in cultivation.  They have proved extremely difficult, usually not germinating at all, or germinating but then dying soon after.  Occasionally some success has been had (particularly with symbiotic germination) but successful germination trials to our knowledge have so far proved un-repeatable.  Working out how to grow Prasophyllum is critical for the survival of many species at risk of extinction across southern Australia.

To try and change this, I will be studying Prasophyllum and their relationships with symbiotic mycorrhizal fungi.

But I need your help!

I am wanting to hear from as many people as possible who

  • have tried (either successfully or unsuccessfully) to grow Leek Orchids or the closely related Midge Orchids (Corunastylis).
  • have observed Leek Orchids (or Midge Orchids) recruiting from seed in the wild.

If you can help, or know of anyone who might be worth talking to, please contact me at: marc.freestone@rbg.vic.gov.au or 0428 304 299.

(Funding and support for this project: Australian National University, Federal Government National Environmental Science Programme, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, University of Tasmania).

I would encourage people to contact Marc with whatever information that you have, no matter how insignificant you may think it is.  Every little bit helps including unsuccessful attempts.

His eventual aim is to be able to work out how to grow them reliably from seed in cultivation.

ORCHID COLLECTING AND THE LAW

South Australia has some beautiful and delicate orchids.  Most are not showy.  Instead they have a subtle attractive beauty.  But they are declining; and for that reason, they are protected by the law, specifically the Native Vegetation Act 1991.  Picking the flower is illegal let alone digging up the whole plant.

The only situation where a person can legally remove an orchid or part thereof is when they hold a government authorised permit. Legitimate reasons for collecting orchid material include specimen for the State Herbarium, scientific research, rescue or salvage situations when a development is occurring, or collecting seed of threatened species to store with the Seed Conservation Centre.

Without a permit, no one can remove any part of a plant even if their reason is legitimate.

It behoves members to be cautious of any one that asks for assistance with collecting, transporting or photographing potted orchids.  Ask to see their permit.  So, what do you do if you suspect someone of picking the flowers or digging up the plants?  Contact the Department Environment and Natural Resources Investigation and Compliance Unit.

There is only a very small number of NOSSA members who hold such permits.  Thelma Bridle, NOSSA Conservation Officer, is the person who will know which members hold a permit.  For more information on plant collection permits, contact DEWNR at DEWNRresearchpermits@sa.gov.au or visit the website.

Thank you to Thelma Bridle and Doug Bickerton for their assistance and critiquing of this post.

Murray Mallee Midges_2007E_6Jun11
Corunastylis sp. Dark Midge Ngarkat Conservation Park Photo: June Niejalke

Orchid Seed Conservation

There are many different activities involved with orchid conservation.  In situ conservation consists of looking after the orchids where they are growing; maintaining and protection of habitats and ecological systems.  On the other hand ex situ conservation is caring for the orchids in cultivation in a similar way that zoos maintain an animals species that is extinct in the wild.

For the orchids one form of ex situ conservation is via seed collection and the propagation of new plants. With many of our terrestrial orchids this is not an easy task but here in South Australia an attempt is being made with four of our endangered orchids.

Unlike some of our terrestrial orchids these are ones which we have not been able to grow.  There is a collaborative effort co-ordinated through the South Australian Seed Conservation Centre (Seedbank) to change this.  Amongst the people helping the Seedbank are members of the Native Orchid Society of South Australia, students from Kildare College and Dr Noushka Reiter of the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne.

On July 30 2016, Dan Duval of the Seedbank was interviewed by Jon Lamb on Ashley Walsh’s ABC 891 Adelaide Talkback Gardening program.  It is an informative interview and well worth the listen.

For more information on the work of the Seedbank, visit their website

Video as heard on Talkback Gardening with Jon Lamb and Ashley Walsh – Saturdays from 8.30 on 891 ABC Adelaide.

September 2016 Winning Picture

Spring is here and it was reflected in the variety and large number of entries.  Lorraine Badger and Ros Miller entered Western Australian species – Caladenia x ericksoniae (Prisoner Orchid) and Paracaelana nigrita (Flying Duck Orchid) respectively.  The other six entries were all from South Australia, Diplodium robustum (Common Green Shell Orchid), Caleana major (Flying Duck Orchid) both from Jane Higgs, Greg Sara’s Oligochaetochilus sp (Rufoushood), Judy Sara’s Arachnorchis leptochila (Queen Spider Orchid), Claire Chesson’s Diuris behrii (Cowslip Orchid or Golden Moths) and the outstanding winning picture Pterostylis cucullata by Bevin Scholz.

 1609-sm-bs-pterostylis-cucullata

In many ways, Bevin’s picture of P. cucullata (Leafy Greenhood) is a special picture because it represents some of the conservation work with which NOSSA is involved. For many years NOSSA has worked with the Threatened Plant Action Group (TPAG) to weed the areas in Belair where this species is located and to see such a good show of plants is encouraging.  It is a tribute to all who have contributed with their time and labour.

P. cucullata is rated Vulnerable both in South Australia and Victoria, and Endangered in Tasmania. It is also rated Vulnerable under the EPBC Act (Federal). Nationally it is known from about 110 sites with most of these sites being in Victoria and only a few sites in South Australia with Belair National Park having the largest and most important population for the state.

Historically this species covered an area of 2107 km2 in the Lofty Block region but that has now contracted by 82% to only 366 km2 with few locations. With such a reduced range, recovery plans were developed, both at state and federal level.  The plans examined the risks and threats to the survival of the different populations.

One of the threats to this orchid is fire, including proscribed burns.  Unlike some species such as Pyrorchis nigricans, Leptoceras menziesii or Prasophyllum elatum which flower well after fire, P. cucullata is fire sensitive; populations decline substantially.  There does not seem to be a safe time to burn for this species.  Should a population survive a burn, it would take it many years to recover.

Fire also leaves the population vulnerable to another threat, that of weed invasion.  Unfortunately, it is weedy where this species survives but over the years, a consistent, targeted weeding program has resulted in a declining weed population.  NOSSA and TPAG have appreciated the work and effort of volunteers and gladly welcome anyone else who would like to join. And one of the rewards? A beautiful, sunlit display of flowers as seen in Bevin’s picture.

Reference:

Duncan, M. (2010). National Recovery Plan for the Leafy Greenhood Pterostylis cucullata. Department of Sustainability and Environment, Victoria https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/14e1ae30-5cf7-4be6-8a35-2c752886c14f/files/pterostylis-cucullata.pdf

Nature Conservation Society of South Australia (2009) DRAFT RESPONSE ON THE BELAIR NATIONAL PARK TRAILS MASTERPLAN: PRELIMINARY ISSUE January 2009  http://www.ncssa.asn.au/images/stories/ncssasubmission_belairnptrails_masterplan_jan09_final.pdf

Quarmby, J.P. (2010) Recovery Plan for Twelve Threatened Orchids in the Lofty Block Region of South Australia 2010. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, South Australia https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/e362cfd2-a37b-443a-b007-db3a2b7b64dd/files/lofty-block-orchids-recovery-plan.pdf

Hands On Conservation – Getting into Conservation at the Ground Level

Conservation of orchids takes many forms, one of which is weeding.  NOSSA members often assist the Threaten Plant Action Group in this area.  There are several sites where significant orchids are under threat from invasive weeds; and over the years, through consistent weeding, the weed front has been pushed back allowing the orchids an opportunity to recover and even increase in numbers.  It is an ongoing task but seeing the orchids recover makes it an encouraging task BUT …

This activity is heavily reliant upon volunteers.  And those who regularly volunteer deserve a big thank you from the community.  BUT ….

More helpers are always needed.  If you are interested in seeing the orchids, consider joining one of the weeding activities that are held throughout the year (these are advertised on this website).  Often the weeding activities target a specific weed, so it is great for a beginner who does not have an in-depth knowledge of plants.

montage-weeding
 The orchids are first marked with tags as they can be difficult to see whilst weeding but afterwards they can be clearly seen.

 

Snapshot of Australian Orchid Conservation

Internationally, there is concern about the decline of orchids as seen in the resolutions passed in May 2016 at the International Orchid Conservation Congress Conference.  In Australia, there are many orchid conservation projects in progress both in situ and ex situ.

The following are some examples of the varied work being done around the country by volunteers, orchid enthusiasts, ecologists, conservationists, academics and government departments.

And here in South Australia there are also various projects. Dr Noushka Reiter is also working with the South Australian Seedbank to help propagate four of our very threatened orchids.  Members of the Native Orchid Society are assisting as also are Paul Beltrame (teacher) and students from Kildare College through the Orchid in Schools Project.

06 sm PM Arachnorchis argocalla

 

Orchids the Flagship Plant Group: How Do We Protect Them?

This week’s post is taken from the IUCN SSC Orchid Specialist Group Facebook post concerning Resolution decided upon at the final session of the International Orchid Conservation Congress Conference, held in May 2016 at the Kadoorie Farm & Botanic Garden, Hong Kong

It was posted by Michael Fay of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.  He is also the Chair of the IUCN SSC Orchid Specialist Group.  According to their website, “The Orchid Specialist Group is a global network of experts who volunteer their time and expertise to build a scientific and practical foundation for the conservation of orchids (Orchidaceae).”

(A list of the meanings of acronyms appears at the end of this post.)

Michael’s post follows

Here are the Resolutions from the final session of IOCC VI in Hong Kong:

03 KK sm Sarcochilus falcatus Mt Banda Banda

Orchids are a flagship plant group with a high profile in human culture. They are known from all vegetated continents on earth but their occurrence reflects patterns in the global distribution of biodiversity and their intricate ecological associations, particularly with pollinators and mycorrhizal fungi, reflect sensitive ecosystem processes. Accordingly, orchids are indicators of ecosystem and climate health. Many orchids and their associated biota have been exposed to a variety of threats as a direct consequence of human-driven global change, with almost half of the ca. 27,000 known species now potentially at risk of extinction. Delegates of the IOCC support all efforts to research and mitigate these threats and secure environments on which orchids depend, and are committed to achieving meaningful conservation by recommending that:

  1. The creation of orchid enhanced habitats is a priority for ecological restoration.
  2. Enhanced in situ orchid protection requires the creation of orchid reserves. These will benefit a wide array of other species and biological communities and can be financed through various public and private sources.
  3. The international and domestic wild plant trade is widely recognised by governments and civil society as a major threat to the persistence of many orchid species, and that its curtailment requires concerted government action and enforcement.
  4. The propagation and cultivation of threatened orchids by small and local orchid enterprises should be supported for the sustainable production of orchids used in horticulture, medicine and food.
  5. Orchid cultivation should be licensed and audited by government or other government-approved body through a national (or international) accreditation scheme that specifies adequate safeguards to ensure best practice. Propagated orchids should be traceable and distinguishable from wild orchids so as to minimise the risk of laundering wild plants.
  6. National, regional and international networks should be established and strengthened for promoting in situ and ex situ orchid conservation.
  7. The next generation of orchid taxonomists, ecologists and conservationists is nurtured through improved training, education, publicity and awareness-raising programmes.

    Paracaleana minor 123DM
    Paracaleana minor (Little Duck Orchid) Photo: David Manglesdorf
  8. Members shall strengthen the work of OSG by:
  • Facilitating and conducting national and global Red Listing of orchids, and contributing to the Sampled Red List Index (SRLI);
  • Monitoring and reporting on the illegal trade in orchids to national enforcement agencies and to TRAFFIC;
  • Reviving Orchid Conservation International as a vehicle for web-based education and channelling funding to orchid conservation programmes, along the lines of Birdlife International;
  • Embracing social media and other web-based interactive tools as dynamic and effective means of stimulating communication, raising awareness and building networks;
  • Using citizen science as an effective means of motivating individuals and amateur groups to record orchid occurrence (e.g. OrchidMap, iNaturalist) and help scale-up the collection of verifiable data;
  • Establishing and maintaining a global database of orchid reintroductions (including both successes and failures) and ex situ orchid collections that can be accessed and updated by members and which is linked to the IUCN Reintroduction Specialist Group;
  • Creating new sub-groups focusing on trade and molecular identification, to reflect important cross-cutting themes and challenges.

Thanks to Stephan Gale and Phil Cribb for producing the final version of these.

Bearded Orchid
Calochilus cupreus (Bearded Orchid)  Photo: Helen Lawrence

IOCC VI refers to the International Orchid Conservation Congress Conference was held in May 2016 at the Kadoorie Farm & Botanic Garden, Hong Kong

IUCN: International Union for Conservation of Nature

OSG: Orchid Specialist Groups

SSC: Species Survival Commission

TRAFFIC: Trade Records Analysis of Flora and Fauna in Commerce

Orchid Specialist Group Website: http://www.iucn.org/species/ssc-specialist-groups/about/ssc-specialist-groups-and-red-list-authorities-directory-7

Caladenia procera

Orchid Hunter Visits Kuipto

The following video is by Orchid Hunter, Julian Pitcher.  Julian is concerned about the conservation of orchids and is also keen to teach others about Australia’s unique orchids.  At the time of the visit, Julian was resident in Victoria; now he resides in Queensland.  Enjoy an interstate visitor’s view of our beautiful orchids.

CULTURE OF FAST MULTIPLYING (FM) TERRESTRIAL ORCHIDS

Recently, NOSSA updated the Terrestrial Culture Fact Sheet.  Instead of one sheet, it was decided to split it into three – Culture of Fast Multiplying Terrestrials, Culture of Slow Multiplying Terrestrials and Culture of Fungi Dependent Terrestrials.  Though much of the growing information is similar, there are some significant differences of which growers need to be aware.  The first of the fact sheets is Culture of Fast Multiplying Terrestrials.

FLAGBEARER SPECIES: Pterostylis curta

Pterostylis curta Labellum and column 92RL
Pterostylis curta (Blunt Greenhood) is rated rare in South Australia.  Ex situ conservation is another dimension to conservation.

Others include Chilogolottis, Corybas, Cyrtostylis, Diplodium, Microtis most Pterostylis and some Diuris. Most FMs are Autumn or Winter flowering. The exceptions are Diuris and Microtis. FM are the most common terrestrial orchids to be seen at meetings and shows. Once seedlings are established they are no longer fungi dependent.

GROWTH HABIT: FMs are the easiest terrestrial’s orchids to grow. They multiply by forming 2 – 5 tubers per plant each year. The annual growth cycle comprises 6 – 8 months as growing plants under cool (5 – 20⁰ C max, 0 – 14⁰ C min) moist conditions and 4 – 6 months as dormant tubers in hot (18 – 42⁰ C max, 12 – 30⁰ C min) dry conditions.  New tubers are produced in winter/spring. FMs are colony types, ie they multiply annually and will spread out over time if planted in the ground. Each tuber sends up a shoot to the surface in autumn and leaves grow rapidly in late autumn/early winter as temperatures fall and the rains set in. FMs mainly flower in Autumn and Winter. Diplodium & Pterostylis leaves are usually the first to appear in March followed by Diuris and Microtis in April, and Corybas in June to July. In October/November the leaves go yellow, then brown and dry as the days get longer, hotter and drier in late spring.

LIGHT/SHADE: In Adelaide, they thrive in a shadehouse of 50% shadecloth. Some species prefer heavy shade, others full sunlight but most will adapt to a wide range of light intensity. Sun loving species (Diuris & Microtis) prefer a brighter location for good growth. Corybas like the shadiest corner.  If the leaves and stems are weak and limp or if the leaf rosettes are drawn up to the light, then the shading is too dense and amount of light should be increased.

In very cold areas an unheated glasshouse may be required for frost protection although light frosts do not worry the majority of species.

AIR MOVEMENT/HUMIDITY: All species like good air movement and will not thrive in a stuffy humid atmosphere especially if temperatures are high.

WATERING: The soil should be kept moist at all times during active growth by watering gently if there is no rain.  Hand watering is especially necessary in spring as soil in pots dries out more rapidly than in the garden. Watering must be done slowly so that the matt of needles on the surface of the pot is not disturbed. Slugs and snails love these plants and must be kept under control. Raising the pots off the ground on galvanised steel benching is very effective in controlling these pests.

After the leaves have turned yellow, let the pot dry out completely to dry up the old roots and tubers otherwise they may turn into a soggy mouldy mess and rot may destroy the adjacent new tubers.

REPOTTING: They grow better if repotted annually otherwise the plants crowd together around the rim of the pot.  Repotting is normally done between November and January. The pots can be knocked out and the tubers examined without harm.  For best results repot the tubers in half fresh soil mix. A suitable soil mix is 40% loam, 50% sand and 10% organic matter with a little blood and bone fertilizer added. (They will also grow in native potting mix.) A 5 mm sieve is a useful tool for separating tubers from soil. Replant the dormant tubers with the tops 20 mm deep. Cover the soil surface with a mulch of chopped sheoak needles (20 – 50 mm lengths). This prevents soil erosion and assists with aeration under the leaves.

SUMMER CARE: Keep the pots shaded and allow the pots to dry out between light waterings until mid-February when they should be set out in their growing positions and watered a little more often. The tubers of some species will rot if kept wet during the dormant period, others will produce plants prematurely which are then attacked by pests such as thrip and red spider mite and fungal diseases in the warm weather.

FERTILIZING: FMs are very hardy and will benefit from weak applications of folia feed in the early growth stages.

OTHER CULTURE NOTES:

NB: IT IS ILLEGAL TO TAKE PLANTS (WHOLE PLANT, FLOWERS, SEEDS AND TUBERS) FROM THE WILD

 

%d bloggers like this: