2020 what a year ... for orchids!


By Shanna Rogers - Wild Orchids Project                               
Senior Land Services Officer P: 02 6051 2241 | M: 0457 733 261 | E: shanna.rogers@lls.nsw.gov.au

Did you know that:

  • Spring 2020 has been a great season for orchids across the Murray region due to the good rainfall between June to September.
  • Wild orchid project monitoring has indicated that many endangered orchids that emerged and flowered this year have been dormant for at least five years.
  • The Wild Orchid Project covers several sites across the Murray & Riverina regions on Wiradjuri and Bangerang country
  • Dirramaay’ is a name used by the Wiradjuri to describe all edible herbs, including orchids.

Sandhill spider orchid Oaklands donkey orchid

This spring has seen so many wildflowers and native orchids popping up across the region. From the scorched earth of the Upper Murray to the drought-recovering western plains, orchids have bloomed and bounced back this year.

It has also been an excellent season for our endangered orchids. Flowering populations of the endangered Sandhill spider orchid (Caladenia arenaria), Crimson spider orchid (Caladenia concolor) & Oaklands Donkey Orchid (Diuris callitrophilla) have increased after several dry years.

The Sandhill spider orchid, Crimson spider orchid, and Oaklands Donkey Orchid exist as dormant underground tubers in summer. They usually emerge in autumn and winter and flower in spring, however, the drought conditions over the last three years have resulted in low numbers of orchids appearing.

The good rainfall events this year, specifically between June to September have prompted orchid emergence and flowering.

The table below summarises Wild Orchid Project monitoring since 2016.

Sandhill spider orchid3952024128
Crimson spider orchid023514691Not avail
Oaklands Donkey Orchid547145218909

Monitoring of the Oaklands Donkey Orchid also confirmed a new population of the orchids at a TSR near Urana. In 2017, monitoring staff discovered a solitary flowering orchid on the site, and since then no orchids have emerged. Approximately 252 plants were found this year of which, 34 are counted within the monitoring plot numbers above. Plans are now underway to protect the orchids from stock grazing during flowering and seed setting over November and December.

After a lean few years, it is a relief to get improved numbers of these threatened orchids emerging and flowering. Next year we will begin to plant out orchids that have been propagated and grown in the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria laboratories into specially established translocation plots. By increasing the population sizes of all three orchids species to 3000 plants each, we hope to save them from extinction over the long-term.

This project is supported by Murray Local Land Services, through funding from the NSW Government through its Environmental Trust.

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