Spiranthes Australis. Image By Clem Thompson
Spiranthes australis. Image by Clem Thompson

In search of Spiranthes australis, “Ladies Tresses” Orchids

Robin Allison has been monitoring a colony of Spiranthes australis orchids at Cardinia Reservoir Park over many years.

Originally she had been advised to look for them at the Reservoir and found a small group of the orchids in a swampy area below the spillway. The distinctive orchids have tiny pink flowers and white frill that form a spiral up the stem. Unfortunately in about 2003 she also found that whilst there had been some temporary fencing in the area to protect revegation, this had been removed and it meant the four-wheel drive vehicles were using the area for off-road activities, churning up the area into mud putting the orchid colony at risk.

When she requested Parks Victoria protect the orchids by excluding the vehicles, bollards were installed within a week. Robin feels it was her most successful request of Parks Vic. Mick van de Vreede has been the Parks Vic officer responsible for many years and continues to protect the orchid area by scheduling mowing and maintenance to avoid flowering and seeding times.

On the 30th December a diverse group of 21 people met at the Reservoir. The group included visitors from Cranbourne Gardens, APS Berwick, Wilson Botanic Park, and others from the district. All were interested in finding the orchids, some were keen photographers others were concerned about the environment.

Two days before, there had been about 12 plants. But following good rain the group found many more Spiranthes australis plus Leek Orchids. Given that notifications were sent out only when the flowers were at their best, two days prior, the response was very good.

Wendy Smart

1 Jan 2018