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On high alert for orchid program

DELICATE JOB: Australian Native Orchid Society volunteer Russell Mawson carefully removes Metallic Sun-orchids from pots before planting them at a site west of Casterton. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Researchers will keep their eyes ‘to the ground’ across western Victoria over the next 12 months as they monitor the progress of a major operation to rescue an endangered species.
Volunteers and specialists have spent the last three months planting 1500 Metallic Sun-orchids, the largest reintroduction of an endangered orchid in Australia.
Only 30 of the plants were left in the Wimmera and 1000 worldwide before the winter plantings.
A third planting west of Casterton wrapped up the 2012 schedule. Next winter a further 1500 orchids, known for flowering in a variety of vibrant metallic colours such as red, blue, purple, green and yellow, will go into the ground.
The project was possible after a breakthrough in a Wimmera-based orchid research project involving three years of laboratory research into propagation and mycorrhizal associations.
Wimmera Horsham Orchid Conservation Facility has developed a process to potentially grow thousands of orchids, with the Metallic Sun-orchids the first federally endangered species to benefit.
Wimmera Catchment Management Authority orchid conservation project manager Dr Noushka Reiter said the Horsham lab was growing 30 different species of federally-endangered orchids using similar methods.
“The difference between growing orchids and something like a eucalypt is that the orchid seed won’t germinate without its fungal partner. For germination you need to isolate and introduce the seed and fungi; it’s quite an involved and complicated process. This is why you need a specialist laboratory.”
Dr Reiter said volunteers were monitoring the orchid sites regularly.
She said a wet winter across western Victoria had provided ideal conditions for the reintroduction.
“We are really quite excited about all this rain. We put tanks and drippers at each site for hand watering but it started raining the day after we finished the first planting and we haven’t had to water them since,” she said.
“This kind of rain for orchids at this time of year is perfect.”

  • Get the full story in the August 30, 2012 edition of The Weekly Advertiser.

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Posted on Aug 30 2012

Posted by on Aug 30 2012. Filed under Environment, FEATURED, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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