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Saving the Brilliant Sun Orchid (Thelymitra mackibbinii) from extinction


Brilliant Sun Orchid (Thelymitra mackibbinii). Photo: Noushka Reiter

The ANPC is working with the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria (RBGV), Friends of the Grampians Gariwerd (FOGG) and the Australasian Native Orchid Society (Victoria Group) Inc. on this project between September 2018 and June 2021.

The threatened Thelymitra mackibbinii has less than 60 naturally wild plants remaining in the Wimmera district of Victoria. The RBGV has grown 600 plants from all remaining provenances, with improved genetic viability. These plants will be re-introduced and fenced for protection under this project. Guided community surveys will also be undertaken for any additional plants that may not have been seen previously, as well as for the small bee that is required for pollination.

Thelymitra mackibbinii is listed as Vulnerable under the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999)  and listed as Threatened under the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act (1988).

Achievements to date

In the spring of 2018 and 2019, pollination surveys were undertaken with volunteers by placing pan traps at the wild and existing re-introduction sites. Bee pollinators were caught and identified thanks to the Australian National Insect Collection. Hand pollination was also undertaken in the glasshouse to determine if this species has the ability to self pollinate. Seed was collected from wild plants that had not previously been sourced (6 pods), and potential re-introduction sites were identified.

Exclusion fence constructed in 2019. Photo: Narri Seed

Exclusion fences were constructed in October 2019 at two sites in the Grampians region to protect the translocated plants from grazing kangaroos, wallabies and rabbits.






Community volunteer surveys in September 2019. Photo: Noushka Reiter


Thelymitra mackibbinii seedlings at the RBGV orchid glasshouse ready for introduction in winter 2021. Photo: Noushka Reiter

Future activities

In spring 2020 we aim to continue pollinator observations and determine two sites to fence from herbivore browsing. Then 400 Thelymitra mackibbinii seedlings will be re-introduced in winter 2021.

Contact the ANPC for further information on this project.










This project has been funded by DELWP through its Biodiversity On-ground Action grants.