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Have You Seen this Orchid?

Do you have knowledge of the native plants in the Bannockburn region? If you do, the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) would like to hear from you.

DEPI is seeking information from the public about a particular native orchid – the Dwarf Spider-orchid (Caladenia pumila).

DEPI Biodiversity Officer Donna McMaster said the threatened orchid species is only known to exist in the Bannockburn region.

“In 1926, the field naturalist, William H. Nicholls, noted that the Dwarf Spider-orchid was commonly seen around the Bannockburn area,” Ms McMaster said. 

“There were no further reports of the species and subsequently it was thought to be extinct. 

“Then in 2009 the Dwarf Spider-orchid was re-discovered in the Geelong region.”

The Dwarf Spider-orchid has a small, single, white flower with fine pink markings and an extremely hairy, single leaf. When in flower it is about 15cm high.

The hairy leaf and its short stature help identify the Dwarf Spider-orchid and clearly differentiate it from other spider orchids. 

“Very little information about the orchid has been officially recorded, which means little is known about its life, in particular, its distribution and ecology,” Ms McMaster said.

“We are seeking information about the location of Dwarf Spider-orchids, past or present, and a copy of any photos, drawings or old flower pressings.”

DEPI Biodiversity Officers hope that more plants may still exist in the wild. If we could find two new plants then the total number of Dwarf Spider-orchids in the world would double. 

Over the past four years, the Australian Native Orchid Society, with assistance from volunteers and authorities, have been searching bushland around Bannockburn to find more of these orchids, with no success to date.

If you have any information to offer, please contact DEPI Biodiversity Officer Donna McMaster on (03) 5336 6604.

(Picture above:  Dwarf Spider Orchid,   Neil Anderton)