The Eastern Underground Orchid is described as a ‘terrestrial saprophytic’ herb with a fleshy underground stem of 15 cm long and 15 mm diameter. The stem is whitish, often branching, with prominent, fleshy, overlapping bracts. Flowering heads mature below the soil surface and may extend up to 2 cm above the ground. Each flower head consists of about 25 to 35 tubular, purplish flowers arranged in a flat spiral or capitulum and has been described as looking something like a glistening purple dandelion. The flower head, which is up to 20mm across, is surrounded by fleshy bracts and is supported by a thick vertical, whitish fleshy stem also covered in bracts. The stems grow from a horizontal rhizome which has no roots, only hairs.
Eastern Underground Orchid |
Status: Endangered on the EPBC Act list
Government evidence of impact of climate change:
Australian Government, Listing Advices, Rhizanthella slateri
The species may be at risk of a loss of pollinator and seed dispersal vectors; such as small mammals or birds; and could be vulnerable to changes in fire regimes.
Other threats to the Eastern Underground Orchid include visitation and trampling; development at known sites; weed invasion; altered fire regimes and the potential loss of pollinating and seed dispersal vectors.
The largest known population of the Eastern Underground Orchid occurs in the proposed route for the upgrade of the Pacific Highway at xxxx; and other populations of the species are threatened by development; weed invasion; damage associated with visitation; trampling; altered fire regimes and the potential loss of pollinating and seed dispersal vectors.
The species is also threatened by development; damage associated with visitation; trampling; weed invasion; altered fire regimes and the potential loss of pollinating and seed dispersal vectors.