Two new threatened orchid species, the Canobolas Leek Orchid (Paraprasophyllum canobolense) and the Pink Spider Orchid (Caladenia boweri), known only from Mt Canobolas, have been formally named by Australia’s foremost authority on orchids, David Jones.
Although the existence of the two species has been known for many years, their official naming as new species in a recent publication grants them scientific recognition.
Both orchids were drawn to David Jones attention by local orchid enthusiast Dr Colin Bower who sent specimens to the Australian National Botanic Gardens in 1988.
David Jones considers both species should be listed as threatened; the Canobolas Leek Orchid as Endangered and the Pink Spider Orchid as Critically Endangered.
The Pink Spider Orchid is extremely rare, not having been seen since 1988, despite numerous searches.
The Canobolas Leek Orchid’s known population is less than 100 plants spread over about 50 ha. A fire-dependent species, it flowers only in the years following wildfires, and had not been seen for over 20 years until the spring following the wildfire in February 2018.
Dr Bower said ‘both these orchids are rarely seen gems of Mt Canobolas that could easily be driven to extinction by inappropriate development’.
He said Mt Canobolas is home to many unique endemic plant species such as the two new orchids.
‘At least two other orchid species and several shrubs and herbs are likely to be named as new threatened species on Mt Canobolas in coming years’.
‘The Mount Canobolas State Conservation Area is an incredibly important last refuge for a significant number of unique rare plants and conservation of these should be given the highest priority’ he said.
[An edited version of this press release appeared in the Central Western Daily on 23/01/20 with a photo gallery of the two orchids.]