Funding to monitor threatened Taree rustyhood orchid

Taree Rustyhood: the orchid is listed as vulnerable species in 2014. Photo: submitted
Taree Rustyhood: the orchid is listed as vulnerable species in 2014. Photo: submitted

A survey on a threatened orchid, the Tall Rustyhood (Pterostylis chaetophora), also known as the Taree Rustyhood, was given a boost with the announcement on Thursday, September 13 of $23,000 funding from the State government.

The vulnerable plant grows in forest with grasses and shrubs in Queensland and NSW. In NSW it occurs in an area between Taree and Kurri Kurri, extending to the south-east towards Tea Gardens and west into the Lower and Upper Hunter, with additional records near Denman and Wingen.

Member for Myall Lakes, Stephen Bromhead said Eastcoast Flora Survey (EFS) staff have begun surveys and monitoring to capitalise on the orchid’s August-November flowering cycle when the 15-35 cm tall plant produces a rosette of leaves at its base and up to 12 reddish-brown flowers with translucent ‘windows’.

Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said surveys and monitoring are totally dependent on this species being in flower as it stays underground outside the flowering period.

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“This season’s work will build on past targeted surveys of the orchid under the Saving our Species (SoS) program which successfully recorded an additional 200 plants,” Ms Upton said.

Before the surveys began there were estimated to be as few as 500 Tall Rustyhoods remaining in the wild.

“The 2018 surveys to denfine the extent and abundance of the orchid will cover additional unexplored potential locations to establish a long-term monitoring program for the orchid, which will help us understand threats to the species” Ms Upton said.

A University of Newcastle student will also be undertaking in-kind research of pollinators and threats of kangaroo and wallaby grazing.

EFS staff monitoring the orchid will visit the sites repeatedly to track the success of plants from early flowering through to fruiting.