Oligochaetochilus validus.
Robust Greenhood  Search Habitat Labellum Close-ups
Pterostylis valida   DEPI Press Release

Click on a framed photo to see an enlargement.                        Back             
Photographed on private property near Mt Korong on 22 October 2013.

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Although quite small rosettes by any standards, they were
large for an orchid and were "easily" seen during our search. 
The native grasses made latter discovery much harder
The orchid leaves were already under attack, the Redlegged earth mite,Halotydeus destructor (my best Google search result)
is devouring the leaves in mid July.  Interestingly we found few if any plants when we returned in October to photograph them.

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Habitat Plants grow well in small rock shelves where it is difficult for animals to go.  They blend into there surroundings and make locating the flower quite difficult - until you spot it!
Full plant photos.

Leaves are always dead at the time of flowering.

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DEPI Press Release  
“Extinct” orchid proving increasingly robust

A committed band of orchid enthusiasts has found more than 300 plants of an orchid species that was until recently thought to be extinct.

Department of Environment and Primary (DEPI) Biodiversity Officer, Julie Whitfield, and a small group of volunteers from the Australasian Native Orchid Society spent two wet and misty days scouring hilltops in Central Victoria for the Robust Greenhood (Ptersotylis valida).

Robust Greenhoods had not been seen since 1941 near Maldon but in 2009 12 of the plants were found on a Bush Heritage property near Nardoo Hills at Mt Kerang.  Last year 12 Robust Greenhood plants were found on Cassinia Environmental’s property near Inglewood.

“We knew that since 2009 at least 50 plants had been found across these two sites so we methodically searched nearby and were very excited to find at least 20 more Robust Greenhoods at a Bush Heritage Australia reserve and more than 300 at the Inglewood site,” Ms Whitfield said.

“Those on Bush Heritage’s property were at least one kilometre from the previously found plants, which is really good news for increasing the total population because it reduces the risk of localised extinction.

“The aim of our search last week was to get an indication of the number of plants but we didn’t ever imagine that we’d find more than 300!”

“Knowing they exist in these numbers means we can look at taking action to further increase numbers such as hand pollinating the plant, storing seeds in the millennium seedbank, propagating and then replanting in the wild.”

The Robust Greenhood is listed as threatened under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee (FFG) Act and critically endangered under the Environment  Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act.  It is a large orchid that bears two to six translucent green and white striped flowers up to 20mm long on short stalks.  The petals curve inwards and fuse at the top of the flower, giving the plant a hooded appearance.  

“The Robust Greenhood flowers from October to November but we searched at this time of year because now is when the plants would be putting up rosettes (a circular arrangement of leaves that sit close to the ground), which are easier to spot than when the flower is in bloom,” said Ms Whitfield.

“We would be interested to hear from anyone who believes they may have seen a Robust Greenhood and we encourage them to contact DEPI on 136 186.”

Cassinia Environmental is a company focused on carbon and biodiversity markets, and director Paul Dettmann said he was very excited by the recent Robust Greenhood find.

“We bought the property a few years ago for conservation purposes and while we knew that it contained some endangered plants and many woodland birds, we had no idea we would discover such a rare orchid,” Mr Dettmann said.

“Prior to us buying the land it had been grazed for probably more than 100 years, however it is a really textured landscape with lots of places that sheep wouldn’t be able access so we think that is probably why the Robust Greenhood has survived here,” he said.

“I was thrilled to find 12 of these plants last year but I was shocked by the number that were found last week and now I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there were other interesting species on the property.”

The Victorian Government has a responsibility under the Wildlife Act 1975 and the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 to protect threatened species.  These animals and plants contribute significantly to the biodiversity of their ecosystems.  The knowledge we acquire about these species helps us to then take the on-ground steps needed to ensure their survival.

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