Rare orchid flowers following fire

Autumn orchids are flowering across the Surf Coast including a rare species which rarely flowers unless stimulated by fire.

The Fringe Hare Orchid (Leporella fimbriata) sighted in Anglesea, flowering well after fire, is found in sandy soils and flowers mainly from March to May. Photo: Margaret MacDonald
The Fringed Hare Orchid (Leporella fimbriata) sighted in Anglesea, flowering well after fire, is found in sandy soils and flowers mainly from March to May. Photo: Margaret MacDonald

Anglesea, Aireys Inlet Society for the Protection of Flora and Fauna (ANGAIR) sighted a number of orchids during their nature ramble walk, including the Fringed Hare Orchid (Leporella fimbriata).

Orchid expert Gary Backhouse said while the species is common in Western Victoria, with some colonies containing many hundreds of plants, the Fringed Hare Orchid only flowers under special conditions.

“It flowers well only after summer bushfires, with only a small proportion (sometimes none) in flower in the absence of summer fire.”

ANGAIR member Yvonne Coventry said she was one of five who had sighted the orchid.

“The area has undergone a burn in the last 12 months so there were a number of different plants coming up including a small patch of Fringed Hare Orchids.

“The Fringed Hare Orchid is very beautiful and very rare,” she said.

Mr Backhouse said the Fringed Hare Orchid does not only flower in specific conditions, but requires specific circumstances for pollination as well.

Winged male ants pollinate the plant by attempting to mate with the labellum (part of the petal that forms a lip) as they are attracted by the orchid’s scent which mimics that of a female ant.

“The winged males usually emerge from their nests only in warm, humid conditions, often just before rain, and have a very short flight period.

“There may be some years when orchid flowering and male ant emergence do not coincide, and very few, if any, flowers will be pollinated.”

Fringed Hare Orchid 2

Other orchids spotted by ANGAIR members this month include over thirty Fringed Midge Orchids (Corunastylis ciliate), a species which had not yet been sighted this year and the Parson’s Band Orchid (Eriochilus cucullatus).

ANGAIR and Friends of the Eastern Otways member Margaret MacDonald said there are 110 species of orchids in the Anglesea area and that there were many things we don’t yet understand about the plant.

“All orchids are rare and protected and they interest me because of their beauty, uniqueness and complexity.

“People can get involved by joining the Australasian Native Orchid Society which is based in Geelong or by contacting ANGAIR and arranging a walk,” she said.

ANGAIR holds guided walks every second Monday of the Month.  To learn more about orchids on the Surf Coast or to get involved please contact the ANGAIR office on: 5263 1085 or visit www.angair.org.au.  

This article appeared in the Surf Coast Times Green the Coast Column.

Related Blog Posts:

swamp-diuris-diuris-palustris1 Rare orchid Survives on edge
spider-orchid-smallANGAIR wildflower show this weekend
kookaburra Indigenous gardens come to life

New flora discovered on coast

Renowned botanist Geoff Carr has identified indigenous plants near Anglesea and Aireys Inlet that have never before been documented in the area.

The plants were discovered as part of Mr Carr’s ongoing study of local flora in the area and included three new plant species which are thought to be rare and vulnerable.

Rough Cranes-bill  (Geranium sp.4)  found near Aireys Inlet

“The plants in Anglesea and Aireys Inlet are of international significance. This is due to the area’s unique location as the meeting point of East and West Victoria,” Mr.Carr said.

Mr Carr will present samples of the plants to the National Herbarium of Victoria where they will be included as part of flora notes on the area.

As part of his study, Mr Carr has been working with local environment groups such as the Anglesea, Aireys Inlet Society for the Protection of Flora and Fauna (ANGAIR) in order to monitor the progress of these plants and recently hosted a workshop with local environmental volunteers and flora enthusiasts.

Friends of Allen Noble Sanctuary coordinator Ellinor Campbell said plants discovered included Lemna trisulca, an ivy-leaf duck-weed which is thought to be rare and vulnerable and Austrostipa scabra subs falcata, a rough spear-grass which is known to Victoria but not recorded in the local area.

“Also discovered was Bulbine aff. Glauca, a bulbine lily which has not been documented at this stage but will probably one day be a species and Geranium sp. 4, a rough cranes-bill which has been seen in this area before but is more common in high rainfall areas,” she said.

Tall spike-sedge
Tall spike sedge seen at Allen Noble Sanctuary

ANGAIR member Carl Rayner said while the aim of the workshop was to learn about indigenous flora, it also highlighted the importance of the work undertaken by amateur botanists who play an important role in the discovery of new plants.

“Amateur botanists may find new plants when they survey areas of bush or as they compile a plant list for an area.

“It is difficult for professional botanists to survey every last hectare of bush due to the lack of resources available to them,” he said.

“ANGAIR holds nature walks every month on the Surf Coast and occasionally we find new plants,” he said.

Tall spike sedge near Anglesea

For information on ANGAIR or the Friends of Allen Noble Sanctuary (affiliated with ANGAIR) contact Carl Rayner:  5263 2193 or 9331 2810 or Ellinor Campbell: 5289 6581 or 9583 2736.  More information about environmental volunteering can be found at http://www.gorcc.com.au

This story also featured in the Surf Coast Times Greening the Coast column.

Related blogs:

  spider-orchid-smallANGAIR Wildflower Show this weekend!
 lorne-pointCommunity vital to coast research
bandicoot1Endangered species spotted on coast

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

ANGAIR Wildflower Show this weekend!

With the end of September fast approaching, the annual ANGAIR Wildflower Weekend and Art Show is on again, offering an opportunity to experience amazing wildflower displays, wildflower walks and tours, kids activities and much more.

Orchids, such as this Spider Orchid, will be a feature of the Wildflower Weekend and Art Show.

With the remarkable number of orchids and other wildflowers that grow throughout the Anglesea and Aireys Inlet district flowering in springtime, the Wildflower Weekend provides the perfect opportunity for visitors to admire the beauty on display.

Mayfly Orchids are one of the orchids that grow in the Anglesea district.

The show includes spectacular displays of native flowers and opportunities for people to take guided walks and bus tours to visit the bushland and flora reserves to see indigenous flowers in their natural habitat. There are also native plants books on environmental subjects, cards and various forms of craftwork for sale.

This year, GORCC will be holding a fun, interactive stall with educational activities provided free for all ages.  GORCC has commissioned local organisation EcoLogic to run the activities which all have a coastal focus.

Georgie Beale from our GORCC Conservation Team will also be there to answer questions and chat to community members about GORCC and what we do,  so feel free to come over and say hi! Georgie is an expert on conservation and land management and can answer your questions about our environmental work and how you can care for the coast.

All proceeds from the show will go towards land conservation purposes.

 Come down to the Anglesea Memorial Hall, McMillan Street Anglesea from 10am-4:30pm this weekend of the 22nd and 23rd September to get involved in all the wildflower action!

For more information, click here, email info@angair.org.au or call 5263 1085.

Volunteering on the coast this Summer

As the warmer weather arrives it’s the perfect time to get active and involved in volunteering on the Surf Coast.

Are you interested in coastal conservation? There’s plenty of opportunities for you to get involved in volunteering. Volunteering is a perfect way to get fit and meet new people while enjoying the natural environment.

Cleaning up the beaches for Clean Up Australia Day

Our precious coast needs your help, depending on which area of the Surf Coast you live, there’s an opportunity for you to volunteer close to home. To  find out about volunteer groups on the Surf Coast click here.

Not interested in joining a volunteer group? Our website provides many more ways you can help the environment. Click here to learn more about coastal conservation opportunities near you.

Do you know of any other opportunties for the community to become involved in coastal conservation? We’d love to hear from you.

Volunteers Restore Coastal Heathland

Most would agree the coastal environment along the Great Ocean Road is arguably one of the most beautiful natural locations in the world. The region is bursting with spectacular sights of dramatic cliffs, huge surf, and pristine beaches all delicately highlighted by one of Australia’s largest collections of indigenous flora and fauna.

Part of the reason the region stays so beautiful is many hardworking volunteer groups contribute hours of their time to protect, maintain and enhance the coastline we all love.  One such group is the dedicated members of the Anglesea Coast Action group.  You might have spotted them hard at work every second Saturday of the month planting indigenous species, controlling environmental weeds, developing walking tracks, preventing coastal and dune erosion and encouraging the growth of indigenous vegetation.

Over the past four years the group has been working on a project to restore the well known Anglesea heathlands which are renowned for their large diversity of wildflowers including strikingly coloured native orchids.  In November 2006 Anglesea Coast Action in partnership with ANGAIR Inc were successful in obtaining a Natural Heritage Trust Envirofund Grant of $15,700 to restore the original heathland vegetation between Anglesea Surf Club and the “Pullover” Lookout on the Great Ocean Road.


The Problem

In 2006 the heathland was completely engulfed by environmental weeds and it was obvious that unless the weeds were removed quickly the original indigenous vegetation would be totally destroyed.  Environmental weeds including Coastal Tea Tree, Sweet Hakea and Giant Honey-myrtle invaded the site, smothering and killing most of the indigenous vegetation.


The Results

The ongoing devotion to the project has produced outstanding results.  The diversity of the regenerating flora has been excellent with at least 90% of the site now restored.  The soil on the site has become more moist and warm with the removal of environmental weeds and these conditions are ideal for germination of soil borne seed and the germination of heathland plants has been prodigious.  Since the project began, there has already been a list of more than 100 indigenous plants that have re-established.

The success of this project can also be attributed to the support received from the many students at St Bernards Catholic Boys College in Essendon. The schools Santa Monica campus for their year 9 students is located at Big Hill near Eastern View.  Groups of visiting students were involved in regular working bees with Anglesea Coast Action roughly every 6 weeks.


  • Peg 5 2008, Peg 5 2009
  • Peg 8 2008, Peg 8 2009
  • Peg 10 2008, Peg 10 2009
  • View of Anglesea Clifftop now

How You Can Help

Volunteers are always needed to ensure our coastlines are properly maintained.  If you have some spare time and are the kind of person who gets satisfaction out of restoring indigenous vegetation to its original condition, or you love getting back to nature, then you can get involved. The Anglesea Coast Action group meets the second Saturday of every month at 9am at the Motor Yacht Club, Pt Roadknight, followed by a working bee from 10am till midday.

For more information contact Carl Rayner on 5263 2193 or 9331 2810, email: crayner3@gmail.com.

Story provided by Carl Rayner, Anglesea Coast Action.