A world class conservation program
Seedlings from endangered orchids propagated by Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens volunteers and staff from The Tasmanian Orchid Conservation and Research Program will begin to flower in early spring. Native terrestrial orchids are very difficult to propagate as they require a specific soil fungus for germination. The experts behind the program based at the Gardens have been able to isolate and culture the fungi from these species and now it’s being used to propagate other threatened species of Tasmanian orchids.
Seedlings soon to flower at the Gardens are from the very rare sagg spider orchid Caladenia saggicola which is endemic to southern Tasmania and it is hoped that in the next two seasons we will have enough flowering seedlings for public display in the Gardens conservatory. This will be a rare opportunity for members of the public to view an orchid that very few people have ever seen.
The horticulture staff at the RTBG are instrumental in the propagation process of these orchids as they require very specific potting mix, just the right amount of water and protection from typical glasshouse pests and diseases. The Tasmanian Orchid Conservation and Research program is led by orchid scientists Dr’s Nigel Swarts from UTAS and the RTBG and Magali Wright from NRM South. It also directly benefits from contributions made by volunteers from Threatened Plants Tasmania, Friends and volunteers of the RTBG.
Nigel has recently published a book, ‘Conservation methods for terrestrial orchids’, with Prof Kingsley Dixon which showcases many of the methods used by the program here at the RTBG