The threatened and critically endangered dwarf spider-orchid has been successfully grown to flowering stage.
Eight years ago two dwarf spider-orchid plants, thought to be extinct, were discovered near Geelong, 83 years after they had previously been seen.
Since then staff and volunteers from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria (RBGV) have worked to secure an off-site conservation population of the dwarf spider-orchid (Caladenia pumila). DELWP Regional Manager Environment and Natural Resources, Geoff Miller says:
“RBGV and DELWP have been working together to propagate the orchid from the tiniest of seeds collected from these two wild plants. With expert support from RBGV and its volunteers, the species appears to be on the return, with plants successfully grown and the emergence of the very first flower bud.”
According to Australasian Native Orchid Society member, Neil Anderton, they have faced many challenges including “inbred seeds as small as a dust particle, discovering the right conditions for germination to occur and then, being able to successfully transfer such a delicate seedling into a pot to grow.”
“The journey to recover this orchid to the point where it is self-sustainable has only just begun and may take up to ten years,” says RBGV Horticulturalist (Nursery), Chris Jenek. “The lack of genetic diversity could prove detrimental to the population, limiting its ability to adapt to changing environmental conditions; merely having a large population does not negate the need for genetic diversity to ensure its survival.”
The dwarf spider-orchid is listed as ‘Threatened’ under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee (FFG) Act and is listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ under the Commonwealth Government’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act.
This project is supported by Corangamite CMA through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.