Saturday, 20 October 2012

Raring to go

Metallic sun orchids. What a name to conjure with. They are rare, with only a thousand or so left in the world, tucked away in Victoria and South Australia.

According to the ABC, the Wimmera Catchment Management Authority is leading an effort to revive the endangered species’ population. Researchers have been cultivating the orchid in lab conditions and now volunteers are planting around 3,000 of them throughout west and south-west Victoria.

Experts did their homework, checking out the mycorrhizal fungi along with local temperature which were replicated indoors. Once in flower, the knee-high metallic sun orchids sport large, cup-shaped, brightly-coloured flowers in reds, blues, yellows and greens, all with a metallic glint.

Meanwhile, ‘beautiful orchids with beastly names’ are blooming in Queensland’s at Vale Park on the River Torrens where another team of fans working with botanist Heather Whiting has established the Vale Park Our Patch to bring native orchids and lilies back to the plains.

Farming and urban development reduced the variety of orchids from the original 50 or 100 different species to a single orchid, says a report.

Now the group has reintroduced 20 varieties and created a wildflower walk, featuring many species including the rare king spider orchid which attracts a male wasp by taking on the guise of his hairy, wingless female. Donkey orchids, apparently, pretend to be bush peas.

Caption: Spider Orchid (Caladenia integra) in Western Australia.