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

Heart of coast restored by hand

Jan Juc Coast Action will work with local volunteers throughout a two year project to restore grasslands atop the Jan Juc cliffs.

Jan Juc Coast Action hopes the Jan Juc grasslands restoration will have the same success as the Grassy Groundcover Restoration Project which spanned three years and restored native grasslands across Victoria.

“The Grassy Ground Cover Restoration Project demonstrated that it is possible to recreate grasslands,” said native grasslands expert Paul Gibson Roy.

Jan Juc Coast Action Chairperson, Luke Hynes, said the project is to begin in late August.

“Grasslands are a vegetation type that has been severely depleted across Victoria.

 “Grasslands are a vegetation type that has been severely depleted across Victoria.

“We should be trying to maintain and enhance the grassland areas of the Jan Juc cliffs as there are only a few examples of this vegetation type remaining,” said Mr Hynes.

The project is based on the techniques developed by Mr. Gibson Roy.

“There is less than one per cent of native grasslands remaining, they could be considered one of the most endangered species in Australia,” said Mr. Gibson Roy.

Jan Juc Coast Action will use the same techniques used in the Grassy Ground Cover Restoration to restore the Jan Juc grasslands.

Mr Hynes said the grassland restoration involves taking off the top 10 to 15 cm of soil which will remove the high level nutrient soil and any weed seed in the soil.

“We will then reseed back into the exposed soil with native grassland seeds.

“The low nutrient, weed seed free soil should provide a great substrate for the native grasslands species to thrive,” said Mr Hynes.

Volunteers have been actively involved the Grassy Groundcover Restoration project and the Jan Juc Coast Action Grasslands Restoration.

“Volunteers are incredibly important. Most of our research was undertaken on farms and public land and the project relied heavily on farmers and the community, “said Mr Gibson Roy.

Learn more about coastal volunteering in this Coast Action/Coastcare video clip.


Mike Bodsworth, Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) Coastal Project Manager said that GORCC is supportive of Jan Juc Coast Action’s initiative.

Jan Juc Coast Action working bees take place on the first Sunday of each month

For more information on Jan Juc Coast Action click here or if you would like to volunteer contact Luke Hynes ph. 0406 113 438 or email luke@beaconecological.com.au

Have a look at these links for more information.

Coast Action/Coastcare

Grassy Groundcover Gazette

Greening Australia

Jan Juc Coast Action

Volunteering on the Surf Coast

This column bought to you by the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee, to visit the  GORCC website click here.

This article appeared in the Surf Coast Times Tuesday 23 August 2011

Are you or anyone you know involved in the Jan Juc grasslands restoration?

Are you interested in coastal volunteering?

Do you know of any other environmental projects happening on the Surf Coast?

Let us know your thoughts and opinions!