What does a flying duck have to do with the important work of the Botanic Gardens? It’s just one of the many extraordinary flowers produced by Australia’s very own native orchids.
The Flying Duck Orchid, or Caleana major (pictured right), is what we call ‘sexually deceptive’. It has evolved to produce a flower that attracts male sawflies that attempt to mate with it. After this unsuccessful act they move to another flower to try again, transferring pollen as they go.
There are many unusual and beautiful native orchid species. Some resemble small spindly spiders, others form massive stalks with many blooms. Some orchids grow on the ground and others grow in trees with their roots in the air.
Orchids are also unusual as they rely on a symbiotic relationship with mycorrhizal fungi, which provide tiny orchid seeds with vital nutrients to help them germinate.
We need to ensure that we do not lose any of our native orchids to extinction. Over 40% of the native orchids found in South Australia are threatened. Weed invasion and vegetation clearance contribute to their loss.
We aim to collect and bank seeds from four threatened native orchid species each year for the next five years. This will ensure that at least 20 threatened native orchids will be protected.
We have already had success with collecting, storing and germinating some native orchids.
We have been greatly helped in our efforts by volunteers from the Native Orchid Society of South Australia who have joined our botanists on field trips to collect seeds. We are also grateful to students from Kildare College - our environmental champions - who have helped to successfully germinate native orchids with us.
In future we aim to repopulate areas where native orchids are threatened or have been lost. A gift from you today will help to achieve this. Please join us in saving our threatened native orchids.