Rare orchid survives on edge


A little known orchid is existing on the Jan Juc cliff top, its precarious survival an unexpected and happy surprise for local volunteer group Jan Juc Coast Action (JJCA).

The rare and state significant orchid Swamp Diuris (Diuris palustris) formerly populated areas near Melbourne but became locally extinct due to urban development.

JJCA has been working to ensure the orchid’s survival.  In 2010 the group pollinated the flowers and collected seed.  The delicate operation consisted of members getting down on their hands and knees to pollinate the tiny orchid flowers with tooth-picks.

Graeme Stockton and Roma Edwards from JJCA in the process of planting minute “home grown” Diuris seedlings. PHOTO: Ian Edwards

JJCA member Ian Edwards was one of the volunteers assisting in the project.

“We simulated the action of the tiny native bees or wasps that may be the natural pollinator and by late summer it was possible to collect some of the dust-like seed,” said Mr. Edwards.

Last year JJCA volunteers also found large numbers of Sun Orchids (Thelymitra spp.) and Onion Orchids (Microtis spp.) in the remnant native grassland of the Jan Juc clifftop, these also rely on the presence of specific soil fungi and specific insect pollinators.

JJCA Chairman Luke Hynes said like the Swamp Diuris, the Sun Orchids and Onion Orchids also rely on the presence of specific soil fungi and specific insect pollinators.

“We had seen few previously, but with the regular rainfall this year there is a profusion,” he said.

JJCA Committee member Graeme Stockton said the introduction of foreign pasture grasses, and invasion by a host of weeds and escaped garden plants have crowded out much of the original vegetation.

“We are amazed that so many indigenous plants have survived the past century and a half and they deserve all the assistance we can provide,” he said.   

Springtime brings an abundance of wildflowers along the coast – what have you spotted this season?

To get involved with JJCA  contact Luke Hynes on 0406 113 438

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