A team of plant enthusiasts, with support from Biodiversity Officers, will be searching for some of Victoria’s rarest orchids near Portland tomorrow.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and volunteers from the Australasian Native Orchid Society (ANOS) will be combing around 40 hectares of land within Bats Ridge Wildlife Reserve and Point Danger Coastal Reserve.

The team will be counting and recording numbers of Mellblom’s Spider-orchid (Caladenia hastata) and the Limestone Spider-orchid (Caladenia calcicola), both of which are listed as threatened under the Environment Protection & Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

DELWP Barwon South West Biodiversity Officer David Pitts said: “These orchids are very rare. The Mellblom's Spider-orchid only grows in Victoria’s south-west and the Limestone Spider-orchid has only ever been recorded in Victoria’s south west and south-east South Australia.”

“Both species have a local population of less than 1,000 plants.”

“This work is undertaken in spring every year, as it’s the season when the orchids are in flower, and can be more easily identified.”

“The team will be using GPS devices, to record the location of each orchid, and place this information into the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas.”

“In addition to monitoring how the local populations are tracking, the long-term project is developing our understanding about the life-cycle of these species, and about threats to their habitat.”

“These stunning orchids were widespread and abundant in south-west Victoria in the 1950s, however they are now limited to much smaller populations.”

“It’s important we undertake this work to understand what caused this significant decline over a relatively short period.”

“The data and knowledge we develop will assist with the future conservation management of these orchids.”

Mellblom’s Spider-orchid has creamy white flowers with dark clubbing at the tips of the petals.  

The flowers of the Limestone Spider-orchid are glossy, pale and yellow with maroon markings.

This project is supported by Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

Caladenia hastata