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Spider Orchids return to Castlemaine

Friday 5 October, 2012

The Castlemaine Spider Orchid is once again blooming this spring in the Castlemaine area, thanks to the combined efforts of two Victorian Government agencies and local community groups. This threatened orchid is about 25cm tall, and produces one or two deep red flowers on a yellow-green, hairy stalk. It can be found flowering in September to October in Box Ironbark forest, mostly amongst Stringy Bark and Box trees.

After many years of attempting to grow this species at the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Horsham Orchid propagation facility, there was finally success, when its seedlings were germinated at the Horsham facility by Dr Noushka Reiter last year.

In June this year the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE), Parks Victoria and some enthusiastic local community members, reintroduced 60 seedlings of this rare Spider Orchid back into two parks in the Castlemaine area.

DSE Biodiversity Officer Julie Whitfield said, “This was the first ever reintroduction of this species and it’s hoped that it will be the first of many more to come”.

“The aim is to establish new populations of the Castlemaine Spider Orchid in many different sites around the district to increase the number of them growing in the wild,” Ms Whitfield said.

This project was funded by the North Central Catchment Management Authority and the on ground preparation was done by Parks Victoria and local community groups.

Parks Victoria Ranger Noel Muller says a lot of work has gone into bringing the orchids back to the area. “Protective fencing has been put around all the new plantings to keep grazing animals out and that’s already showing results as the orchid plants are looking really good.”

The Castlemaine Spider Orchid project is part of the DSE Threatened Orchid recovery program for the North West Region, which includes the management and reintroduction of numerous threatened orchids for the Central Goldfields area.  

The Victorian Government has a responsibility under the Wildlife Act 1975 and the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 to protect threatened species. These animals and plants contribute significantly to the biodiversity of their ecosystems. The knowledge acquired about these species helps to then take the on-ground steps needed to ensure their survival.

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