The metallic sun-orchid is a rare orchid growing 21-52 cm tall with a single long, narrow leaf. The flowers are highly variable in size and colour and the way the colours infuse gives a bronzy or metallic appearance. This species occurs from the Eyre Peninsula to East Gippsland west of Bairnsdale, found growing in mesic coastal heathlands, open forests and woodlands. In 2013 it was estimated that there were fewer than 1500 metallic sun-orchids remaining in the wild. This species responds well to disturbance by fire, as fire promotes seedling recruitment and reduces competition from other plants. Therefore, removal of fire frequency and intensity, poorly timed and too frequent fires are all threats to the metallic sun-orchid.
Metallic Sun-orchid |
Status: Endangered on the EPBC Act list
Government evidence of impact of climate change:
Australian Government, Conservation Advice, Thelymitra epipactoides
The removal of fire as a natural disturbance regime is likely to be the primary threat to this species; allowing invasive weed species to outcompete the orchid (and other flowering members of the ecological community); reducing the likelihood of attracting native polinators; which are themselves in competition with introduced pollinators less suited to pollination of the species.
Too frequent fire may pose a threat by altering habitat; removing organic surface materials and negatively impacting pollinators and mycorrhizal agents (Pers.
Fire frequency needs to be established such that the supporting plant ecology is sustained and flowering in the orchid is periodically enhanced with fire; the frequeny of which needs to be determined through research.