PRESS RELEASE | Orchids from the Ashes

Canobolas Leek Orchid, photo by Dr Bower

Two native orchids not seen since the 1980s may re-emerge this spring from the ashes of the February wildfire on Mt. Canobolas.

The orchids, a Spider Orchid and a Leek Orchid, are both new to science and known only from Mt. Canobolas.

Both were first found after the 1982/83 wildfires and haven’t been seen since the late 1980s.

Dr. Colin Bower, who discovered the orchids in the first few years following the eighties wildfires, said they are fire-dependent species, that is, fire is needed to stimulate flowering.

‘These plants may spend many years as dormant tubers in the soil waiting for a wildfire.’

‘Like the orchids, I’ve been waiting for the last 35 years for a wildfire in the hope of seeing them again’ he said.

The Leek Orchid is in the process of being scientifically described and named as a new species by orchid expert David Jones of the Australian National Herbarium.

It will likely become known as the Canobolas Leek Orchid.

Prasophyllum sp. endemic to the Canobolas volcanic complex
Prasophyllum sp. endemic to the Canobolas volcanic complex. Photo By Dr Bower

Only one plant of the Spider Orchid was seen in the late 1980s and more specimens are needed before it can be formally described as a new species.

Canobolas Spider Orchid, by Dr Bower
Canobolas Spider Orchid, by Dr Bower

A group of Orange orchid enthusiasts will be conducting extensive searches for the orchids on Mt. Canobolas in co-operation with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service over the next few years beginning in the coming spring.

‘Our aim is to try to relocate these elusive plants, map their distribution and assess their numbers in the State Conservation Area (SCA)’, Dr. Bower said.

‘The SCA is particularly rich in native orchids with 32 species recorded so far’, according to Dr. Bower

Dr Colin Bower

Published by Col Bower

I am an environmental consultant trained in entomology and botany. I am an accredited Biobanking Assessment Method Assessor with almost 30 years experience in biodiversity assessment. I have visited, observed and studied Mt Canobolas since 1980.