Orchids In Remnant Roadside Vegetation

This week’s post written by Leo Davis is an article (slightly edited) from The South Australian Naturalist 91 (1): 34 – 37 January – June 2017. In this article, Leo highlights the importance of  the role of roadside vegetation in preserving the native orchids and flora.

All photographs are by Leo Davis.

Microsoft Word - SAN Vol. 91, No. 1, Jan-Jun 2017  pp. 34-37 OrcFig 1: Thelymitra antennifera hybrid

One of my rules of thumb is ‘If I am in a Conservation Park, I’m on ground that nobody could make a living from.’ One, usually more, of nutrient poor soils, excess salinity, extreme rockiness, steepness, poor moisture retention, low rainfall or even being waterlogged, will be a feature of the location. There are a few odd spots that have survived partly intact, that have good soil, sufficient rainfall, etc. These include cemeteries (The Nationally Critically Endangered ghost spider orchid (Caladenia (syn. Arachnorchis) intuta) holds on in a cemetery on Yorke Peninsula) or exclusion zones around water storages (including a reservoir reserve in Lobethal that the public can now access) or abandoned railway yards (including Sherlock, where so far I have found 21 species of orchids and part of a reserve in Halbury.)

Microsoft Word - SAN Vol. 91, No. 1, Jan-Jun 2017  pp. 34-37 Orc

Fig 2: Little Yellow Club Mallee Spider Orchid Caladenia (syn Arachnorchisverrucosa

When I go in search of plants with the Botany Group of the FNSSA (Field Naturalist Society of South Australia), or for orchids with NOSSA (Native Orchid Society of South Australia), or when I do surveys of threatened orchid species with DEWNR (Department Environment, Water and Natural Resources), or orchid seed collection with the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, or go on weeding parties to protect endangered species, the destination is always one of these deprived, rejected sites. The orchids I see are those adapted to or just hanging on in such sites. We never see orchids that lived on better soils, say on the Adelaide Plains. How many have become extinct?

Microsoft Word - SAN Vol. 91, No. 1, Jan-Jun 2017  pp. 34-37 Orc

Fig 3: Common Mallee Shell Orchid Pterostylis dolichochila

Wherever the land was suitable for agriculture it was clear felled. Almost nothing of the original flora and little of its associated fauna, were left. But there is a tiny flimsy exception. Crossing these highly productive agricultural zones are roads and sometimes these have remnant vegetation. For a person interested in orchids, these narrow strips are normally areas of slim pickings but occasionally finds are made. Near Halbury, the Nationally Endangered Halbury rufoushood (Pterostylis sp. Halbury or Oligochaetochilus lepidus) can be found in some roadside spots.

Microsoft Word - SAN Vol. 91, No. 1, Jan-Jun 2017  pp. 34-37 Orc

Fig 4: Mallee Bearded Greenhood Pterostylis (syn Plumatichilos) sp. Mallee Bearded Greenhood

The most remarkable piece of roadside vegetation that I have come upon was discovered by and shown to me by Glenn Dean, the Environment Officer with the City of Murray Bridge. He found a section of predominantly broombush (Melaleuca uncinata) vegetation, only about 200 m. long, on the verges of a single car sandy track, east of Murray Bridge. It is so close to the vegetation that cars can be scratched. I have found 24 species of orchid (Glenn has found more) blooming there sometime between March and October each year. All images shown here (Figs 1–11) were made at this site. If the little used road was not there the land would have been under crop, being equal in quality to regularly cropped fields to either side, and is of much higher quality than any normally allocated to Conservation Park status. Most of the orchids found can indeed be found in some of the poor sites dedicated as Conservation Parks, including species similar to those found at Ferries McDonald and Monarto Conservation Parks with their poor sandy soils. But this spot, which for some reason supports species that do not grow just 100 metres east or west along the road, has such species as the Nationally Critically Endangered Mallee Leek Orchid (Prasophyllum constrictum) (Fig. 8), that requires soils as good as those demanded by wheat, so it is essentially doomed.

Microsoft Word - SAN Vol. 91, No. 1, Jan-Jun 2017  pp. 34-37 Orc

Fig 5: Rusty Rufoushood Pterostylis biseta (syn Oligochaetochilus bisetus)

Its single plant sighting here is regarded as a ‘rediscovery’ of a species not seen for years. In the longer term I guess this tiny site of orchid species richness is in a transitory state and most species will disappear. The surrounding cropping land is neither a source of seed nor a suitable landing site for it and it provides damaging wind blown nutrients and other chemicals. So I will cherish it while it lasts and hope others appear, if only briefly. Here is a reminder, that most of you do not need, of the value of roadside vegetation (with the understanding that it can contribute to native animal mortality) and that we should manage, extend and guard its presence.

Microsoft Word - SAN Vol. 91, No. 1, Jan-Jun 2017  pp. 34-37 Orc

Fig. 6: Rufoushood Pterostylis (syn Oligochaetochilus) boormanii complex sp.

Microsoft Word - SAN Vol. 91, No. 1, Jan-Jun 2017  pp. 34-37 Orc

Fig. 7: Cinnamon Donkey Orchid Diuris palustris

Microsoft Word - SAN Vol. 91, No. 1, Jan-Jun 2017  pp. 34-37 Orc

Fig. 8: Mallee Leek Orchid Prasophyllum constrictum

Microsoft Word - SAN Vol. 91, No. 1, Jan-Jun 2017  pp. 34-37 Orc

Fig. 9: Limestone Tiny Shell Orchid Pterostylis cycnocephala
(syn Hymenochilus calcicolus)

Microsoft Word - SAN Vol. 91, No. 1, Jan-Jun 2017  pp. 34-37 Orc

Fig. 10: Caladenia (syn Jonesiopsis) capillata x Pheladenia deformis hybrid

Microsoft Word - SAN Vol. 91, No. 1, Jan-Jun 2017  pp. 34-37 Orc

Fig 11: Small Rustyhood Pterostylis pusilla (syn Oligochaetochilus pusillus)


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.

Introducing Orchid Pollinators of Victoria: Part Two of Two Parts

Continuing last week’s blog, here is the completion of Rudie Kuiter’s Introducion, Orchid Pollinators of Victoria. In this section he discusses some factors of hybridisation and the value of regular observation by local people interested in orchids.

Click here for Part One

Lissopimpla excelsa is the pollinator of all members of Cryptostylis, but hybrids are not known, even when sympatric, thus a molecular mechanism is in place that prevents cross-fertilisation.  Hybrids in other orchid genera do occur and these usually are amongst closely related species. Several congeneric orchids attract the same male pollinator species, thus would be emitting the same kairomones, the scent that is a mimic of the female’s sex-pheromones, but normally these orchids are allopatric or have different habitat preferences.  The land clearing, frequent fires, changes of watercourses, gold-diggings are amongst many unnatural human habitat interference of recent times.  Historically in undisturbed natural habitats sibling orchid species that attracted the same male insect were not sympatric, not flowering at the same time or were in close vicinity to each other.  In disturbed sites the situation has changed, as closely related species may have become sympatric and hybridisation take place.  Spider-orchids that attract thyniid wasps with kairomones normally target a certain local species, but many allopatric species are know to share the same pollinator and readily hybridise where they became sympatric.  In Pterostylis greenhoods the known hybrids are also caused when different species attract the same pollinators.

Cryptostylis subulata 008
Cryptostylis subulata (Moose Orchid)

We still have much to learn to fully understand how adaptable the orchids are, the role insects play and how to interpret what we see.  Orchids are finely tuned to their world and can change and adapt in ways that most people seem to underestimate.  I requires observations of the same plants over many seasons to get a good understanding of their variability and  adaptability.  Unusual forms often show after a drought or fire may look like a new species, but soon change back to typical or normal within a few good seasons or after regeneration.  It is usually the local people taking an interest that see the changes in the same plants over time that dispute what the ‘on-the-fly’ taxonomist come up with.

Creatures evolved as part of an endless combination of life-forms, ranging from microscopic to the tallest tree, that together form an ecosystem in which all organisms depend on each other.  The climate, weather and other factors changes the environment constantly that influence the members differently, dome doing better than others, but it collectively maintains a balance.  Natural events such as a major fire or flood may benefit environments in areas as part of seemingly long cycles, but they are very short in evolutionary terms.  Unnatural man-made fires are very destructive as these are conducted much too frequently, wrong time of the year, and in the wrong place.  Not obvious, but also very detrimental is the use of insecticides that seems to effect the Diptera members the most.  Many of the important pollinators such as the fungus-gnats have gone locally extinct and most of the Pterostylis depend on them.  To work with the pollinators it is essential to have a good understand of the life-cycles of the insects involved and watch the flowers in the wild.  After witnessing Pollinator behaviours of the fungus-gnat on Pterostylis nutans countless times, the principal pollinator is easily recognised with other species.  Unfortunately few good areas to find orchids and learn about their pollinators are left.  Many are now rare and measures taken to protect them usually focuses on just a species.  To be effective their habitat area and surrounding needs to be cared for, letting the natives grow and have the natural canopy reform.  At least, habitats should be protected from further disturbances, especially by badly informed governmental environment departments with their fires.

Pollinator and Corunastylis archeri
Pollinator with pollinia

Note This book is solely based on first-hand observations on the orchid-pollinators in the wild.  Descriptions and comments are from many hours of watching each species over multiple seasons.

Apart from Orchid Pollinators of Victoria, Rudie Kuiter has produced several Victorian orchid books.  If you are interested in purchasing any please contact us.

Introducing Orchid Pollinators of Victoria: Part One of Two Parts

This week’s blog, Part One of Two Parts, is quoted directly from the introductory chapter (Pages 2&3) Orchid Pollinators of Victoria 4th Edition, 2016, Rudie Kuiter.  Over the years of photographing orchids and their pollinators, Rudie and his team have been discovering much of the hidden world of orchid pollinators.  In this first section he highlights the fallacy of the “one orchid-one pollinator” as well as touching briefly on the vast difference between the insects and their role in the ecosystem.

Click here for Part Two

INTRODUCTION

Amongst flowering plants, orchids have evolved in their own special reproductive ways.  Their pollen is massed as waxy packages, pollinia, unlike like (sic) other flowers that produce masses of fine pollen grains that mostly go astray.  The pollinia are relatively heavy and the usually small creatures need to be strong fliers for cross pollination (see image below).  Orchids evolved with amazing strategies to attract specific carriers in order to transfer pollen between flowers of their species only, and in this way eliminating the need to produce great quantities.  Various insects, many moths, bees and even birds have been documented as pollinators of orchids around the world (v.d. Cingel, 2001).  A number of uniquely different examples of orchids attracting insects for their pollination evolved in Australia, especially in the more temperate southern zones originating from Gondwana times.  With very few exceptions the Victorian orchids are terrestrial, ground-dwellers, that rely on small insects such as fungus-gnats, native bees, wasps, ants and many attract only the males by sexual deception.  In the case no pollinators visits, many species may self-pollinate as a back up.

When taking an interest in orchids it seems difficult enough to identify some species.  Usually one looks and admires the amazing flowers that may resemble an insect and can be difficult to recognise as a flower at first.  An insect on a flower may be thought of something that spoils a picture – until taking an interest in the visitor!

160219 Anita Marquart Melangyna collatus on Caladenia rigida
Hoverfly on Caladenia rigida (syn Arachnorchis rigida)

I first learned about the orchid pollinators in Orchids of South Australia by Bates & Weber, 1990, an excellent book by today’s standard, but few were seen over the years by just being there at the right time when photographing orchids.  During preparation of the book on Caladenia spider-orchids, certain issues developed from questionable statements made in scientific papers about wasp-pollinators.  Of particular concern was about the one-to-one relationship – how only one wasp-species would be involved with only one spider-orchid species – and suggesting populations that were thought to represent the same species comprised different taxa if not pollinated by the same wasp-species.  A very different story emerged when monitoring the local spider-orchid populations to find the answers and it became clear that there was much more to it.  A site in Wonthaggi with a very large colony of Caladenia dilatata proved to be perfect for this study and also to photograph pollinators as it produces flowers for about four months.  It was found that a local wasp-pollinator species typically flies for a little over one month, thus this need to be investigated further.  Scientific publications on wasp-pollinators were generally based on short-term experiments, and usually employing baiting methods – moving flowers and often taking them to different sites.  Responses included unnatural behaviour or attracting sibling wasps at a non-local site.  It is certainly true that a particular flower may attract only one species of wasp a t a locality and a certain time in the season, but this reflects a very small part of the picture.  It can be different in the long-term, at certain localities or with a season.

The main study site was in coastal dunes, where in a very large population of Caladenia dilatata produced flowers for over four months from September, and under favourable Summer-conditions into January.  At least three congeneric (belonging to the same genus) thynniid wasps species were involved in this population.  The flying times were up to about 6 weeks for each wasp species, that were separated or slightly overlapping.  The flowering times in other populations of C. dilatata in Wonthaggi and Wilsons Promontory were usually about one month in each, and at the corresponding times to the study site the wasps visiting were the same species.  A close sibling C. parva in the Wonthaggi heathland habitats and early flowering C. dilatata were pollinated by the same species, but the later flowering C. tentaculata by a thynniid wasp of the different genus.

160219 Anita Marquart Melangyna collatus with pollinia
Hoverfly with pollinia

Whilst a flower may attract only one wasp species, the kairomones (chemical omitted by the orchid to attract a pollinator)  of a species may vary between flowers within in a population or when allopatric (growing in different geographical regions), just like colour or morphology.  Variations maybe in relation to locality, weather conditions, or ground chemistry and available pollinator.  Pollinators may evolve over time, but adaptions usually require many seasons and this would vary with location.  The observations made over several seasons suggest that more than one congeneric insect is involved in pollination depending on local or seasonal conditions, especially after a long drought.  Chiloglottis gunnii populations in Langwarrin were checked for pollinators since a decade-long drought and no action was seen for many seasons.  When wasps finally made an appearance they comprised different taxa of Neozeleboria the first season, but only one became the common and principal pollinator the following seasons.  Thynniid wasps are very localised as females lack wings and rely on the males to carry them around during copulation and to provide food.  It limits their travelling and their homing range may comprise just a few hundred metres.  Thynniid wasp are very vulnerable in small reserves isolated by land-clearing, and certain species have gone locally extinct due to conducting burns.  Insects form a crucial and fundamental part of an ecosystem, but their importance is never considered in the planned burning, showing a complete lack of understanding by people in charge.  So little is known of ecosystem’s foundations, but controlled burning continues – ruining precious habitats.  Orchid species failing to produce seed pods is an indication that pollinators were absent, probably gone locally extinct.  Orchid species that have a sexual association with thynniid wasp pollinators are localised and usually have geographically variable flowers.  The situation is different with Cryptostylis spp. And their pollinating male wasp Lissopimpla excelsa, as females are a strong flyers.  The flowers of Cryptostylis are geographically uniform in each species and the wasp is widespread.  Both sexes are very distinctive in colour that show no variation.  They are active over Spring and Summer and are great travellers.

To be continued …

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

NOSSA 2012 – 2016

The Native Orchid Society of South Australia (NOSSA) is affiliated with the national body of native orchid society, Australian Native Orchid Society (ANOS).  NOSSA regularly sends reports of its to ANOS.  This year’s report covered four years of the society’s activities and is reproduced here to give readers an idea of the many things that we do.  This report was produced by Robert Lawrence (currently Vice President).

NOSSA REPORT 2012 to 2016

I believe that the last annual report from the Native Orchid Society of South Australia was in 2011 when we were just commencing a three-year plan with the establishment of a series of subcommittees. All of the committees have since ceased to exist, but not without significant accomplishments.

The Website Subcommittee had established a website, but a Webmaster has since been appointed. The website now uses WordPress and is maintained so that its management could easily be transferred to another person. The website provides a weekly educational post about Australian orchids. It has also provided a point of contact from those outside of the Society. It is linked to a Facebook page that increases the profile of NOSSA among those interested in orchids throughout Australia and beyond.

The Education Subcommittee had established a picture competition at the monthly general meetings. There is still only a small number of contributors, but many excellent pictures are shared. The winning picture from each meeting is used as a basis of one of the weekly posts on the website.

Advertising v1

The Education Subcommittee had a vision to produce a brochure of 20 common orchids of the Adelaide region for free distribution to the general public. The NRM (Natural Resources Management) Education ran with the idea and produced a poster of Common native orchids of the Adelaide Hills. This provided brief, but comprehensive, profiles of 29 native orchids and the weedy species. This has been printed as a double-sided poster and is available from the website of Natural Resources Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges. NOSSA members worked with NRM staff on the details of the poster and NOSSA members contributed many of the photographs. This poster was completed and launched in April 2015.

NOSSA also provided monetary assistance as a loan with the publication of the field guide entitled, Start with the leaves. A field guide to common orchids and lilies of the Adelaide Hills. This guide covered 50 orchid species as well as native lilies and some weeds in the Iridaceae family that are sometimes mistaken as orchids. The contribution of $8,000 was recovered only 8 months after publication.

The Disc Publication Sub-editing Subcommittee saw the publication of South Australia’s Native Orchids on DVD discs in time for the Spring Show in September 2011. Both the DVD and the book were published in time for the Spring Show in September 2011. Both continue to sell.

Title Page

A new subcommittee has been established in February 2016 to oversee the publication of a field guide, expected to be called Wild Orchids of South Australia.  It is proving to be a challenge to be brief enough to reduce the information to a size suitable for a field guide. (Editor’s note: it has since been decided to defer this until after the development of the interactive website, see below.)

NOSSA members have being working since 2014 to establish an interactive website and database modelled on the Go Botany website run by the New England Wild Flower Society in the USA. This was supported by a grant from the Australian Orchid Foundation.  The project is called Wild Orchid Watch. It is hoped to produce an interactive, web-based orchid identification tool. Recording sightings through such means as apps on mobile telephones are also being investigated.

In 2014 NOSSA made a donation to help establish the Orchid Conservation Program. This was led by Dr Noushka Reiter. Once established, staff in the Department for Environment, Water and Natural Resources began to organise a trial with four threatened orchid species from South Australia. Noushka visited South Australia during 2015 and collected samples from each of these species and isolated fungi from these. Seed was also collected and work on propagation commenced in 2015. During 2016 NOSSA sponsored the propagation of one of the four species through the Adelaide Botanic Gardens. Caladenia gladiolata, an endemic species, was selected.

20150922_210750

Paul Beltrame, a secondary teacher at Kildare College, contacted and joined NOSSA during 2014 with the interest in getting girls at this school involved in the propagation of native orchids. A program was organised modelled in the Orchids in Schools program run by the Orchid Club of South Australia with Les Nesbitt’s involvement.

A delegation from Kildare College, ably assisted by their enthusiastic laboratory assistant Nenah McKenzie, visited Noushka in Melbourne and learnt the technique for separating and growing fungi. They have since separated fungi from two of our more common greenhood species and supplied this for seed kits that were made available to members as a trial at the start of the 2016 growing season.

The trial of seed kits was done for Pterostylis nana and Pterostylis sanguinea. A trial was conducted in this growing season of seed kits for members. Kits included a pot, growing media, seed, fungus, mulch and instructions. There seems to be limited success with the current round, but improvements are planned from the lessons learnt. One particular growing mix proved successful with a small number of seedlings appearing. The contribution of the Orchids in Schools program at Kildare College has been necessary for the isolation and production of fungi for the kits.

In October 2012 Cathy Houston and Robert Lawrence collected seed of Pterostylis arenicola from the only population on the Adelaide plains after monitoring in September indicated a good year for seed production. The seed was germinated in 2013 and was deflasked at a working bee at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens in early August 2016. The students from the Orchids in Schools program at Kildare College participated. Latest reports are that 40 plants look like surviving. These will be used for seed production and for reintroduction.

Oligochaetochilus arenicolaHL
Typical of the rufus hood this Oligochaetochilus arenicola shows the sencesing leaves, pendent petals and hairs on the labellum. Photographer: H Lawrence

In 2012 NOSSA was asked to care for and propagate rescued Diuris behrii plants from Hillgrove Resources Mining Lease near Kanmantoo in the Mt. Lofty Ranges. The plan was to maintain the rescued orchid clones in cultivation for several years and to produce additional plants for reintroduction within the mining lease area each Autumn. A comprehensive recording and auditing system has been put in place to track each clone and any seed/daughter tubers/plants. By August 2015 there were 609 plants with 75 original mother plants. There were 95 daughter plants returned to the site for revegetation in each of the years 2014, 2015 and 2016, a total of 285 plants.

Funding from Hillgrove Resources has assisted NOSSA financially and has made it possible to consider funding conservation work. NOSSA is planning to apply for charity status so that donations can be used for tax deductions. Donations will then be feasible through our website. We are also starting an orchid seed bank. Seed will be available only to members and it is hoped that this will increase our membership. There is a demand for Australian orchids overseas and it is hoped that this will become a means for raising funds for conservation. Other means of fund-raising such as sausage sizzles and selling kits for craftwork are also being considered.

NOSSA members still continue to be involved in surveys and monitoring threatened orchids.  Members have been involved in the planning of monitoring.

montage-weeding
Weeding and Monitoring, two of NOSSA’s conservation activities

The management committee of NOSSA is currently working on a revision to the Rules of Association. In the current version there is a two-year limit on the term of the President of two years. In the first 16 years from 1977 there were there were eight different presidents before one had a second term. Bill Dear was president in alternate terms until he retired and moved to Western Australia in 2012. Robert Lawrence was elected president in March 2014, but for the first time in 2016 there were no nominations for president and he was nominated to the role of vice president with no other nominations. The management committee has appointed a subcommittee to review the Rules in relation to the terms of the president. Another change planned is change from having monthly general meetings to having less formal monthly meetings at which no decisions are made or minutes kept. All resolutions will require calling a formal special meeting. This idea is adapted from the approach used by ANOS Victoria.

Over the last two years NOSSA has asked new and renewing members to complete a survey of their interests. This has proved to be an effective way of getting information on the interests of our members with 79 responses, this being about half of the number of memberships. This is an overall summary of the results ranked according to number of responses:

 Area of interest

Responses Percentage
General Orchid Knowledge 53 67%
Field Trips 48 61%
Photography 47 59%
Conservation 46 58%
Growing Terrestrials 35 44%
Surveys 30 38%
Growing Epiphytes 28 35%
Citizen Science 20 26%

At its establishment NOSSA was primarily a Society of orchid growers. These figures reflect a decline in interest in growing orchids. The figures are somewhat surprising in that the numbers interested in growing orchids are much larger than the number of growers. Presumably some of these are interested in learning with a view to getting involved with growing later.  At least we hope this is the case.

We are certainly noticing a decline both in our numbers of growers and in members involved in surveys due to age and health.

The greatest number expressed an interest in general knowledge and we are relying on the Journal and the Website help to keep people interested and informed. Next was field trips, but we haven’t had that many that have attended field trips in in the last few years. Only 11 of those who expressed an interested in field trips are not interested in photography, the next item of interest, and only 10 people interested in photography were not interested in field trips. Not many of these share their photographs at monthly meetings. We are hoping to get members to make their photographs available for the identification guides.

Bearded Orchid
Bearded Orchid Photo: Helen Lawrence

It is pleasing that 58% are interested in conservation, thus supporting the efforts of our Conservation Officer.

Growing terrestrial orchids was next on the list; we hope that the tuber bank and the NOSSA Seed Kits are meeting the demand from members. Twenty-two of the 41 interested in growing orchids are interested in growing both terrestrial and epiphytic orchids. Only 8 of the respondents are bringing plants to meetings and a couple of others have not completed the survey. Of those interested in growing terrestrial orchids, one is a former grower and another is interested in growing them in situ at revegetation sites.

Thirty members expressed an interest in doing orchid surveys and three of these are interested in participating in the future, presumably when more time is available.

Citizen science is a new concept to many and came last in our list of interests. One who did not indicate an interest said he was monitoring orchids at a particular site; this has been taken as an interest. Surveys are certainly one form of citizen science and only 2 of those who indicated an interest in citizen science did not indicate an interest in being involved in surveys now or in the future. Thirteen of the 30 interested in surveys did not express an interest in citizen science. If these were included, interest in citizen science would be 43%.

Only seven members indicated an interest in all of the categories and one of these wants to keep in touch with the club and with old friends.

The Annual Spring Show in September 2015 was a particular success, largely due to the efforts of one our new members in promoting the show through local media and by other means. We also benefited from the donation of collections of growers who had decided not to continue with their collections.

Garden display
Annual NOSSA Spring Show

NOSSA has continued to maintain a tuber bank that is available for members. A small number of our members are also members of ANOS Victoria, and have obtained tubers from their collection. This is hopefully contributing to the variety of terrestrial orchids grown by our members.

Working bees continued to be conducted in association with the Threatened Plant Action Group at Belair National Park for improving habitat for the nationally endangered Pterostylis cucullata (Leafy Greenhood), at Grange Golf Club to protect and monitor Pterostylis arenicola (Sandhill Greenhood) this being nationally vulnerable and locally endangered and on York Peninsula in conjunction with a local Friends group for the nationally endangered Caladenia intuta.

NOSSA has for many years used Australian Orchid Club (AOC) judges and knowledgeable members, who have all studied the ANOS judging rules, to judge orchids at NOSSA monthly meetings and shows. As the number of judges has fallen in recent years, judging training sessions have had to been discontinued. We wait in anticipation for a proposed ANOS judges correspondence course, as we have for more than 10 years. There are at least three AOC judges interested in the ANOS judging correspondence course. It is disappointing that ANOS Awards are still limited to Queensland, New South Wates and Victoria.

In summary, NOSSA continues to be active in many ways and these activities are working together to support each other.

Interested in these activities, why not join up and get involved.  Click here for Membership details.

10 sm RAL Diuris brevifolia
Diuris brevifolia (Late Donkey Orchid)

 

 

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