MURRAY BRIDGE: Rare spider orchids discovered. PHOTOS

Several significant orchids have been discovered recently in the SA Murray-Darling Basin region by some dedicated orchid enthusiasts.

Natural Resources SA Murray-Darling Basin Restoration Ecologist Kylie Moritz said three rare spider orchids have been discovered at three different locations by volunteers and landholders.

“Orchid enthusiasts and volunteers spend hundreds of hours each year searching the bush for native orchids to photograph, monitor and to simply enjoy,” Ms Moritz said.

“They are passionate and knowledgeable people that make a real difference to the conservation of our native orchids.

“The nationally endangered common comb spider orchid (Caladenia tensa), was discovered this season at Kinchina Conservation Park, Monarto by volunteer and orchid enthusiast Leo Davis.

“Mr Davis’s discovery was confirmed by an orchid taxonomist who said that previously the most westerly observation had been made at Sherlock, South East of Tailem Bend.

“This is a really exciting find for our region and adds to the conservation significance of Kinchina Conservation Park.”

Mr Davis and orchid spotters Dave and Regina Horsell from Mount Gambier also discovered a species of spider orchid commonly known as daddy long legs (Caladenia filamentosa) at Ferries McDonald Conservation Park.

This striking orchid has dark red flowers and gets its common name from having very long sepals (petals) like spider legs.

Like the common comb spider orchid this species was previously only found in one location in South Australia, near Bangham in the South East.

“This is another exciting find, although not endangered, it is uncommon in SA and this find provides some remarkable insights into the distribution separation geographically of the species,” Ms Moritz said.

Mr Davis regularly visits a number of Conservation Parks and roadside vegetation sites in the Adelaide Hills.

“Slowly I am building a data base of sightings, flowering times and measurements of plants and flowers that may be useful to researchers in the future,” Mr Davis said.

“Volunteering to monitor threatened orchid species, pollinating and seed collecting, with DEWNR officers and Botanic Gardens staff, and carrying out protective activities as simple as weeding, is stimulating and rewarding.”

To add to the spider orchid finds, a local Hartley landholder also made an exciting discovery this season.

The Hartley area is home to more than 90 per cent of the world’s known population of the nationally endangered coloured spider orchid (Caladenia colorata), which is thought to be only 5,500 plants.

“The Hartley landholder found a really significant population of more than 600 of these orchids on their property,” Ms Moritz said.

“The plants were in a very good condition with many having two flowers.

“A number of the plants had been pollinated which is important as it proves the necessary native wasp pollinators are present.

Natural Resources SAMDB is working with a number of Hartley landholders to manage threats to the orchid population including grazing by rabbits and kangaroos and weed threats such as boxthorn, bridal creeper and perennial grasses.

For more information contact the Natural Resources Centre in Mount Barker on 8391 7500.