20 left and the toothpicks aren’t working


Australia’s The Age reports that this pretty little orchid — Caladenia
robinsonii —
is down to the last 20 plants in the wild. The local botanical garden is trying to propogate them, but the toothpicks they’re using to pollinate aren’t nearly as effective as the small wasps that are supposed to do the job. To make matters worse, the few orchids they have to work with aren’t co-operating … none of them want to bloom at the same time.

Read the article…

Time Running Out for Rare Spider Orchid
The Age

By Lorna Edwards
November 9, 2004

It’s not easy being green for one rapidly disappearing Victorian
– a tiny native orchid by the name of Caladenia

One of Victoria’s most fragile and vulnerable plants, the rare
species of spider orchid is believed to be down to its last 20
plants in the wild.

The rest have fallen prey to bulldozers in their natural habitat
around Frankston.

But at the Royal Botanic Gardens, staff have experienced
difficulties trying to save the delicate terrestrial orchid that
relies on a small wasp for pollination.

"The flower itself resembles a wasp, so it basically encourages
the wasp to mate with it," said Chris Jenek, the curator of the
terrestrial orchid collection.

Mr Jenek has had to pollinate the orchids by hand using
toothpicks, left – a feat he was unable to achieve last year
because they flowered at different times.

"This year I could do it as they flowered perfectly

Caladenia robinsonii is one of three threatened species
of Victorian orchids at the centre of conservation efforts by the
botanic gardens staff and National Herbarium scientists. They hope
to increase  numbers, with the aim of reintroducing them to
the wild.