Threatened Species – Hunting Orchids and Pollinators

As mentioned in the report on our AGM, we were successful in our application for a grant to protect an orchid area in the Ironbarks State park. Noushke and I went there in September with ranger Dave Handscombe to plan where the fence should go. The lack of rainfall was so evident; the ground was dusty dry and the usual orchids were so scarce. Scary.

Marking the fence corner
Marking the fence corner

Some of us joined a search with the native Orchid Society in October looking for some rare Prasophyllum, Caladenia and Thelymitra off Harrops Track in the vicinity of Camp Creek. We failed to find the target species but saw many other orchids. Gail and I spent a peaceful hour sitting in the warm sun beside a rare orchid in a pot, with a butterfly net in our hands, hoping to catch a wasp or other pollinator, but alas no success. Nobody at all interested.

Checking if this orchid is surviving.
Checking if this orchid is surviving.





You may have heard or read about the exciting news that there is photo confirmation of at least one live quoll in the Grampians national park. One of the remote cameras set up near the Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby release site has captured a clear image.


Among the many questions is: is this a lone male come from a known population to the south (eg Mt Eccles) in search of a female, or is it part of a local group? The former seems possible, but unlikely, as it is over 100km. The possibility of a local group is great news, and there’ll be more camera work of course. By the way, they did check whether the local zoo had had any escapes.

It is also good to have it confirmed that the fox baiting programme does not affect quolls.


quoll image002 quoll image001

So many congratulations and thanks to the skills of Daryl Panther who sets up the cameras, and to the thoroughness of Ryan Duffy, Ben Holmes and all the local team in recognising they had something very unusual on their screens.



Spring is always a busy time for the TSG as it is so much easier to monitor rare species when they are in flower. As can only be expected,some searches were successful, others not. But it is always a good experience to walk slowly, concentrating on the vegetation, with others there to help you learn the not-so rare plants as well. You certainly don’t need to be an expert. Plus you get out to see different parts of the Park. Only two of the excursions are written up here, but there are a few more photos on the website.


It was a very small group who went looking to see how this unusual rice flower (Pimelea pagagophylla) was faring on Mt William. But the three of us had a great day. We started near the car park and looked along the road and on the hill above. We found so many that we stopped counting at about 150. Most were young, and quite a few looked as if they were suffering from the dry spring. It will be interesting to see how they go. There were also quite a few of the more common Pimelea linearii, three different tea trees, the tallest fairies’ aprons I have ever seen, grevilleas looking dramatic …. On the way back down the rocky slopes were an absolute garden of different low shrubs: kunzea, boronia, grevilleas, goodenia …..


About 20 enthusiastic searchers participated in the 2011 Threatened Species Group search for the Grampians Duck Orchid (Paracaleana disjuncta). This orchid grows to 15cm, has a distinctive ovate green leaf with purplish underside (usually withered at flowering time), and only has dark wart-like calli on the front third of the labellum.

The weather remained overcast throughout the day providing ideal search conditions – not too hot for the searchers and not hot enough for snakes to be out and about. Two tiger snake sightings were however reported at the end of the day.

We searched two areas in the southern Grampians where Stringy Bark with healthy understorey and lots of sedges suggested the possible presence of duck orchids. All three Duck Orchids found in the Grampians require the same mycorrhiza association and can therefore be found growing together.

To get to the first area we passed through a dense area of damp heath noting a number of plants flowering along the way (see list below). Two Lathams Snipes were flushed out of the sedges as we walked through this area. Our search under the Stringy Barks at Site1 revealed several Large Duck-orchids (Caleana major).

In the second area off the Victoria Valley Rd where the understorey was more open we discovered both Calaena major and Small Duck Orchids (Paracalean minor), including one large patch of about 70 plants, but alas none of the target species.

On our way back to Brambuk we were treated with a short detour to view an Elbow Orchid that had been discovered the previous day by Ivan and Margaret Margitta at a spot recommended to them some ten years ago. Despite looking each year, this was the first time they had found one there!

Helping with these searches is a valuable learning experience – next morning with a better understanding of where to look, we went searching on our own property in the northern Grampians and found lots of Small Duck Orchids, including a patch that looked like apomictic plants (plants that reproduce asexually) almost at the back door!

Geraldine Harris

Some of the plants identified included:-

Site 1
Acacia verticillata Prickly Moses
Allocasuarina misera Small Casuarina
Bansia marginata Silver Banksia
Boronia nana var pubescens Dwarf Boronia
Brachyloma daphnoides Daphne Heath
Calaena major Large Duck-orchid
Calectasia intermedia BlueTinsel-lily
Carex fascicularis Tassel Sedge
Conospermum mitchellii Victorian Smoke-bush
Dianella admixta Black-anther Flax-lily
Dillwynia glaberrima Smooth Parrot-pea
Gompholobium huegelii Common Wedge-pea
Grevillea aquifolium Holly Grevillea
Helichrysum scorpioides Button Everlasting
Hibbertia fascisculata Bundled guinea-flower
Hibbertia riparia Erect Guinea-flower
Hypoleana fastigiata Tassel Rope-rush
Leptospermum myrsinoides Heath Tea-tree
Melaleuca squamea Swamp Honey-myrtle
Melaleuca squarosa Scented Paperbark
Patersonia fragilis Short Purple Flag
Pimelea linifolia Slender Rice-flower
Stylidium graminifolium Grass Triggerplant
Thysanotus juncifolius Branching Fringe-lily
Xris operculata Tall Yellow-eye

Site 2
Asplenium flabellifolium Necklace fern
Caladenia sp. Green-comb Spider Orchid
Calytrix teragona Heath Myrtle
Comesperma calamega Blue-spike Milkwort
Gompholobium ecostatum Dwarf Wedge-pea
Isopogen ceratophyllus Horny Cone-bush Lepidosperma carphioides Black Rapier-sedge
Paracalaena minor Small Duck Orchid
Spyridium vexiliferum Winged spiridium
Xerochrysum obtusangulum Common Flat- pea

Site 3
Thinninorchis huntianus Elbow orchid

Translocation of Threatened Plants

Australian Network for Plant Conservation (ANPC) are presenting a workshop on 26th and Field trip 27th of May. The workshop will be held at DSE Nicholson street Melbourne and is aimed at people involved in, or who would like to be involved in the planning, approval or implementation of a translocation project for threatened flora. Cost for non ANPC members is $165 or $145 concession. Further information and registration forms are on the ANPC website or contact Noushka Reiter of Horsham DSE 0400041365.

Threatened Species Activity

Austral Pipewort

Please join interested volunteers in
surveying for this federally endangered
plant between Woohlpooer and Mereek on

Saturday the 12th
of March 2011
Meeting at 9.30 am at Cherrypool roadside restrooms
Please bring snacks, drinks, sunscreen, at lunch,
mosquito repellent and gumboots.

Yes it has re-emerged after two decades!

For further information please contact
Noushka Reiter: 0400041365
David Pitts: 0408565541


Proo, Kathy and I attended a planning meeting of the TSG recently. As well as Parks, DSE and the botanists, three long term Field Naturalists from Stawell were there and their knowledge was so impressive. It was a good reminder of how valuable the work of “amateurs” is. Compared to the “professionals” who seldom spend a lifetime in one area, the “amateurs” have years of learning. The trick will be: how to capture that knowledge for the future? e.g it may be vital for input into fire plans etc. That’s where groups like the TSG, FOGGS, Field Nats are so important in making that knowledge available to DSE and Parks. That’s why it’s important that we keep records and don’t throw them out. The herbarium collection of the Stawell Field Nats is now housed in archival boxes in our volunteers’ room, but some other stuff needs careful cataloguing and archival storage. Any volunteers to help?


(From the CMA newsletter but covering several of the activities FOGG members have helped with.)

Wimmera Threatened Species Officer Pauline Rudolph compiled a list of achievements after ‘a year to remember’.  Ms Rudolph said the flora team had ‘significant’ achievements during the year. “There are certainly more things worthy of mention, but 10 is a good take-home message,” she said. “Many of these achievements wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of our plant-enthusiast volunteers.”  Ms Rudolph said the top 10 achievements were in no specific order.

The State Government funds the Wimmera Threatened Species program through Wimmera CMA. The top 10 achievements were: 

  1. A new location of the Tawny Spider-orchid, Caladenia fulva. 
  2. Creating collections for the Millennium SeedBank project with the Royal Botanic Gardens.
  3. Extending the population of the Grampians Bitter-Pea, Daviesia laevis in the Grampians. 
  4. Roadside-plant studies north of the Little Desert, updating numbers and health for the Hairy-Pod wattle, Acacia glandulicapa, and the Jumping Jack wattle, Acacia enterocarpa
  5. Confirmation of bee pollination for the Candy Spider-orchid, Caladenia versicolor
  6. Achieving a full count and sex ratio distribution for the two sites of Wimmera Rice Flower, Pimelea spinescens subsp. Pubiflora. Natimuk, 3463 plants, Minyip, 188 plants. 
  7. Pollinator identification for orchids pollinated by Thynnine wasps 
  8. Success for an orchid reintroduction project with a 60 percent emergence of the Yellow-lipped Spider-orchid, Caladenia xanthochila, and 90 percent emergence for the Candy Spider-orchid, Caladenia versicolor
  9. Establishing the Horsham Orchid ex-situ growth laboratory. 
  10. Establishing monitoring quadrats for the Grampians Rice flower, Pimelea pagophila to monitor post-fire population.


Vote for the Brush Tail rock wallaby
The Victorian government is having a competition on what endangered species they are going to put on the vehicle registration labels next year. Of course, the Brush Tailed Rock Wallaby is on the list and you all need to vote for it…..please!!!. Tell your friends, kids, schools, relatives etc etc etc to vote. Go to and follow the links to ‘Plants and Animals’,
‘Threatened Species Competition’


The search went very well. Sylvia and six volunteers. At all the previous recorded sightings on the Sheephills track we found masses of seedlings, but only one or two plants that had resprouted from the parent plant. We estimated that each mature plant must have left behind in excess of a hundred viable seeds, which had been dispersed about 10-15m on either side of the parent plant – probably spread by ants. Some seed had germinated the first spring and some the second spring after the fire. A good strategy if you don’t know if there’s going to be sufficient rain for adequate growth in the first year. Many of the seedlings had already flowered and one or two had reached around 30cms in height. Altogether very reassuring, now we just have to see how many survive the pressures of competition from other species and from browsing.
We were fortunate enough to see many other species in flower on the day including but not limited to:
Caladenia iridescens Bronze Caladenia
Caladenia alpina Mountain Caladenia
Pterostylis melagramma Tall Greenhood
Bauera sessiliflora Grampians Bauera
Boronia pilosa Hairy Boronia
Euphrasia collina Purple Eyebright
Pimelea humilis Common Rice-flower
Pimelea linifolia Slender Rice-flower
Leionema bilobum Notched Phebalium

Sylvia van der Peet