Friday, 18 April 2014

Success in saving rare spider orchids

Any orchid expert will tell you how hard it is to germinate the seeds.

Yet, two threatened Australian native orchids have recently been germinated symbiotically for the first time.

They are the Crimson Spider-orchid (Caladenia concolor) and the Sand-hill Spider-orchid (Caladenia arenaria), from New South Wales.

The exercise is part of the Australian Network for Plant Conservation’s (ANPC) Orchid Conservation Program delivered with the Wimmera Catchment Management Authority (WCMA) in Horsham, Victoria.

All Australian terrestrial orchids rely on a specific mycorrhizal fungi to germinate and sustain their growth throughout their lifecycle. Researchers needed to find the right type – and they finally did.

To further complicate things, each species is pollinated by a unique insect. They don’t yet what pollinates the Crimson Spider-orchid, but interestingly the orchid has a distinctly mandarin flavoured smell.

The Crimson Spider-orchid is particularly rare, with fewer than 30 plants in the world in an area confined to granite ridge country near Albury, and is also found in north eastern Victoria.

For further information on the Orchid Conservation Program, visit the ANPC website.

Caption: Emily Pelloe: 'West Australian Orchids'

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