There are approximately 25,000 species of orchids in the world, with 1,800 here in Australia.
In the Limestone Coast, we have a few unique species, which can only be found in this region, like the Little Dip Spider Orchid and the Maroon Leak Orchid at Piccaninnie Ponds.
The Marshes Native Forest Reserve north west of Glencoe, is a 600 ha reserve containing important wetland communities which is unique to The Marshes. Growing amongst the undergrowth by the swamp margins, tiny orchids can be found. A few special orchids like Merran’s Sun Orchid, the Eastern Plum Orchid, and the Colourful Sun Orchid can be found regularly, only at The Marshes in SA.
Three years ago, a new species of Sun Orchid was found in The Marshes. This tiny spotted blue flowered orchid has now been named – Thelymitra abrupta, the Abrupt Sun Orchid, because of its quite brief flowering period. At the moment it appears to be the only place in the world where it grows.
Purchase of the 300 ha Mt Burr Swamp property which adjoins the Marshes to the north, will increase the size of this reserved area by 50% to 900ha. Restoration of this property back to natural bushland and wetlands, in time will give these orchid populations the greatest chance of expansion and survival in the long term.
Written and photography by Sheryl Holliday