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Conservation of the endangered Melblom’s Spider-orchid (Caladenia hastata)

The aim of this project, funded by Portland Aluminium, is to increase the long term viability of the Melblom’s Spider-orchid (Caladenia hastata) by re-introducing this species into three sites in the far south west of Victoria. In putting the species back within its former range, the community will be engaged to increase their knowledge on this threatened orchid and ensure long term community enthusiasm for the recovery of this species. The long term aim of this project is to reduce the species from Federally Endangered to Federally Vulnerable under the EPBC Act (1999).


Outcomes Achieved over 2015, 2016 and 2017

  • Caladenia hastata seed was collected and mycorrhiza isolated from two sites.
  • A Re-introduction Plan outlining two re-introduction sites was written and approved by the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.
  • 200 plants were propagated symbiotically with the collected seed and mycorrhiza and are currently housed at the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria Orchid Conservation Laboratory in partnership with the ANPC.
  • Pollinator baiting was completed for this species. Samples of the wasp (pollinator) have been examined by a wasp taxonomist. All samples are confirmed to be the species of wasp that pollinated Caladenia hastata.
  • The results of the pollinator data collected from this project have been published in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society: Reiter, N. et al. (2017) ‘Pollinator rarity limits reintroduction sites in an endangered sexually deceptive orchid (Caladenia hastata): implications for plants with specialized pollination systems‘.
  • The Australian National University in Canberra has partnered in the project looking at the spatial distribution of Caladenia hastata in the field and how this may affect the pollination rates.
  • A total of 446 plants have so far been re-introduced, doubling the number of plants of this species in the wild. Some plants have already flowered and been naturally pollinated. Further supplementations will be undertaken in the winters of 2017 and 2018.
  • The re-introductions to date in this project have been highly successful (80%) and have provided an excellent conservation outcome for this species in a relatively short space of time.
  • Both the Portland Field Naturalists and Australasian Native Orchid Society have become involved in the re-introduction of the species. Members from the Australian Native Orchid Society have also been assisting in the laboratory and nursery.

Dr Noushka Reiter,  Botanist (Orchid Conservation), Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

Melblom’s Spider-orchid (Caladenia hastata) which is endangered at the National and State Level (Photo: Len Carrigan)