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Bushcare Recommencing COVID-19 Protocols

Hello Bushcarers,

Bushcare is back and will be recommencing on Saturday, 6th June.

With NSW Government restrictions easing surrounding COVID-19 from June 1, Blue Mountains City Council’s decision to allow Bushcare to recommence will be great news for many of you whom are eager to get back out and re-engage with your Bushcare sites. We are asking you to take some precautions, follow physical distancing rules and limit numbers to 9 volunteers at a time.

Our key consideration as we return is the safety of volunteers and staff, particularly our volunteers that fall within the vulnerable or high-risk categories. We hope you understand the reasons for the COVID 19 safety protocols and adhere to them strictly to keep all of us safe.

We look forward to seeing you all again, being back out in the bush, working on our sites, and hearing what you have been up to during the restrictions that have been put in place during our response to the COVID 19 pandemic.

Meet in groups of 10 (Bushcare Officer and 9 volunteers) – a fair and equitable booking system will be put in place.

Your Bushcare Officer will send an email out so you can book your name for the next group’s workday and should the group numbers reach a maximum of 9 persons then you will be first on the list for next month’s group workday. For larger groups with numbers up to 18, an additional Bushcare Officer may be put on so that the group may be split into two groups.

On your Bushcare day the following safety practices and principles will apply:

  • Toolbox talks to be held with all volunteers to brief on the current BMCC COVID return plan – attendees and meeting times will be documented and signed on behalf of the Bushcare Officer to reduce contact with equipment.
  • Bushcare Officers to provide hand sanitiser/disinfectant/PPE.
  • Regularly use the alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Maintain a minimum physical distance of 1.5 m between volunteers and staff.

Equipment

Herbicide applicators and Council issued tools to be placed on a table with one person at a time coming to collect. Spray /wipe down all equipment before and after use with 70% alcohol sanitiser.

Morning Tea

To reduce the risk of transmission between staff and volunteers then morning/afternoon tea breaks will be managed as follows: – volunteers will bring your own morning tea (food, tea and coffee) and no sharing of food between people of different households.

Maintaining site, WHS, and Volunteer attendance records

  • Bushcare Officers only are responsible to maintain all physical Bushcare Site record books and will handle the book and pen and sign on behalf of volunteers attending.
  • For those groups maintaining their own book, the Volunteer Coordinator shall be responsible to only handle the book and pen and sign on behalf of the volunteers.
  • Record ‘COVID 19 Protocol’ on the signed sheet, to ensure transparency of why volunteers are being signed for.
  • Ensure all attendees names have been recorded – it could help with contact tracing.

Volunteer self-monitoring

If you are not confident of returning to Bushcare next month we will welcome you back at any stage.

  • If you have been overseas, please do not return to Bushcare until 14 days have passed.
  • Stay home if you feel unwell.
  • Stay informed and follow the advice given by your healthcare provider. If you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, do not attend and seek medical care early.
  • Follow the directions of your local health authority.
  • Should any person attend a site and present with any symptoms of cold / flu, they will not be permitted to participate in any Bushcare activities until the results of the COVID 19 test can be presented.

National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on whether COVID-19 is spreading in your area. They are best placed to advise on what people in your are should be doing to protect themselves.

Please note the plan is subject to ongoing NSW Department of Health and Federal Government advice and directives resulting from Public Health Orders and Government Announcements which may seek the reversal of the plan’s action.

Post Fire Weeds

Article by Sandy Benson

Swamp recovery post fire Photos: Sandy Benson

Many weed species in the Blue Mountains are ‘fire-responsive’. Post-fire conditions make it easy for weeds to establish due to favourable conditions, they germinate prolifically and can spread vigorously within the first few seasons.

Weed species gradually establish long-term soil seed banks that are triggered to germinate en masse by fire. In the absence of targeted weed control, weed species rapidly spread and can form a dense ‘carpet’, outcompeting native species.

However, this can be to your advantage. It’s a great time to treat weed infestations as they are more accessible than ever before. Usually they are the first to emerge, easy to spot but also easy to access. If you control emergent weeds before they set seed, you’ll be able to get on top of these weedy patches much more quickly. Timely post-fire management action (usually within 18 months) is necessary for control.

Opportunities

Improved access post-fire provides an excellent opportunity to control weeds that are not usually easily accessible. This certainly applies to dense riparian vegetation and our
Blue Mountains Swamp communities, where the dense vegetation impedes access to established weeds, or wherever the foliage of established weeds is beyond the reach of
physical or chemical methods. Unless burnt, weeds in these locations usually escape control efforts. Post-fire, the sparse vegetation allows the foliage of resprouting taller weed species to be easily located and within range of control.

Weed Species proliferation post fire

There are several ways weed species can proliferate after fire:

  • Weed seed bank explosion in usually unaffected areas
  • Kill or reduce the number of established mature plants but post-fire conditions are ideal for the seed bank to explode
  • Resprout from base of mature plants
  • Burn or char the weed species, then plant sends up numerous suckers

Each of these reproductive pathways requires a different weed management strategy

Weed seed bank explosion in usually unaffected areas

Weed seeds can remain dormant in the soil for many years.The fruits of weeds are attractive to a wide range of animals that can spread seeds such as foxes, rabbits and bird species. Seeds can also be spread by dispersal from the parent plant or by wind or water. This may increase the number of weeds present at a site in the short term. But over time and with weed treatment it can deplete the weed soil seed bank, and be replaced by native species and a healthier natural state in the long term.

Likely pathways of weed seedlings germinating in areas previously clear of weed species are post-fire flooding, wind and bird distributed seeds from neighbouring unburnt areas. Post-fire these seedlings once mature, set seed and are likely
to spread dramatically.

An opportunity exists where, a weed seed bank explosion can lead to a weed seed bank depletion. Fire can result in one-off increases in weed densities, which after subsequent
fires rapidly decline if weed treatment is quick and consistent. If weed seedlings are not controlled, they will outcompete native seedlings, exhausting the native soil seedbank.

Consistent follow-up seedling control is necessary in areas of low fire intensity, near water sources, and where seeds have dispersed into the burnt area from unburnt sections of the population. This can happen particularly in the Blue Mountains
where seed from unburnt areas can carry down a slope and be deposited on burnt ground. The removal of these seedlings before they mature and set seed is a high priority.

Weeds commonly displaying this type of fire response in the Blue Mountains include:

• Gorse Ulex europaeus
• Cape Broom Genista monspessulana
• Scotch/English Broom Cytisus scoparius
• Perennial grass Ehrharta calycina
• African Lovegrass Eragrostis curvula
• Coolatai Grass Hyparrhenia hirta
• Patersons Curse Echium plantagineum
• Cotoneaster Cotoneaster spp. (franchetii, pannosus, lacteus, glaucophyllus, horizontalis)

Blackberry resprouting from the base of mature Blackberry post fire Photo: Sandy Benson

Kill mature plants/seed bank explosion

Depending on fire intensity and thickness of the weed species trunk or stem, fire can kill adult plants with little or no re sprouting post-fire. However, weed seeds are long lived, remain in the soil and can be triggered to germinate by fire. Many of the Blue Mountains most invasive and pervasive woody weeds fall into this group.

Trees and shrubs – some trees and shrubs are killed by fire and do not sucker or resprout post-fire, these plants rely solely on seed to regenerate. Many germinate straight after fires. The removal of seedlings and juveniles before they mature and set seed is a high priority.

Trees commonly displaying this type of fire response in the Blue Mountains include:

• Radiata Pine Pinus radiata
• Cherry Laurel Prunus laurocerasus
• Holly Ilex aquifolium
• African Olive Olea europaea ssp. cuspidata

Woody Weeds – A hot fire will kill mature wood weeds but encourage mass germination of seeds, occurring in denser, more vigorous patches. Once these become established,
they quickly produce large amounts of seed. Mass germination can reduce the weed soil seed bank over time, but only through sufficient follow-up weed treatments
over many years, otherwise a denser infestation is likely to result.

Post-fire look for:

• Cape Broom Genista monspessulana
• Scotch/English Broom Cytisus scoparius
• Gorse Ulex europaeus
• Lantana Lantana spp.
• Cotoneaster Cotoneaster spp. (franchetii, pannosus, lacteus, glaucophyllus, horizontalis)

Climber, scrambler or creeper – Usually fire kills adult climbers, scramblers and creepers, but triggers germination in the soil weed seed bank. These seeds dependent on the species can return in denser infestations, particularly with climbers that produce many seeds in their fleshy fruits. These seeds are usually favoured by birds so may be found close to the parent plant or in a new location.

In the Blue Mountains look for:

• Balloon Vine Cardiospermum grandiflorum
• Banana passionfruit Passiflora mollissima

Resprout from base of mature plants

Some weeds resprout from the base of burnt mature plants from regenerative buds protected underground or beneath layers of bark. There is a short-term decrease and
reduction in biomass and/or densities as mature plants are temporarily ‘weakened’ post fire. There is an opportunity to achieve better results if prompt weed treatment is
undertaken on fire weakened weeds.

Trees and shrubs – Weed trees may resprout post-fire, but not for all species.
• African Olive Olea europaea ssp. Cuspidate
• Lantana Lantana spp.

Woody Weeds – Gorse evolved as a fire-climax plant, readily catching fire and burning to ground level but regenerating from the base after the fire. In the Blue Mountains look for:
• Gorse Ulex europaeus

Climber, scrambler or creeper – When burnt these species may receive a boost post-fire with vigorous resprouting and/or seedling regeneration into fertile, sunny sites.
Response is strongly dependent on fire severity.

Fire generally kills Blackberry’s seasonal canes but the root crown usually survives and regrowth can be quite vigorous after fire. Post-fire environments provide a unique opportunity for control as all foliage is accessible.

Climbing, scrambling and creeper weeds commonly displaying this type of fire response in the Blue Mountains include:

• Blackberry Rubus fruticosus spp
• Balloon Vine Cardiospermum grandiflorum
• Cats Claw Creeper Dolichandra unguis-cati syn. Macfadyena unguis-cati
• Japanese Honeysuckle Lonicera japonica

Bulbs, corms, tubers or rhizomes – Weeds species with a bulb, corm, rhizome or tuber are unlikely to be burnt by fire as the corms or tubers are protected from the heat by being located underground. Many species resprout vigorously post-fire and can invade
bare ground.

The removal of corms or tubers is a high priority. Those with long strappy leaves can be treated by wiping (wiping herbicide along the strappy leaves with a herbicide wiper).

Weeds commonly displaying this type of fire response in the Blue Mountains include:

Montbretia Montbretia Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora
• Watsonia Watsonia meriana var. bulbillifera
• Turkey Rhubarb Acetosa sagittata
• Morning-glory Ipomaea purpurea
• Madeira Vine Anredera cordifolia

Suckering

Weed species can sucker post-fire, meaning its principal means of propagation is suckering from the roots vegetatively. Trees under stress post-fire can send up numerous suckers as a defensive mechanism. This can lead to dense stands forming and a monoculture of the same species, excluding all native species from that site.

Weeds commonly displaying this fire response include suckering trees, suckering woody weeds and brambles.

Trees and shrubs – Mature Camphor Laurel trees have been documented suckering profusely after being burnt.

Weed management should be undertaken by killing the parent tree and suckering plants by treating each with herbicide. Weed trees commonly displaying this type
of fire response in the Blue Mountains are:

• Tree of Heaven Ailanthus altissima
• Weeping Willow Salix babylonica
• Small and large leaf Privet Ligustrum spp.
• Sycamore Platanus orientalis
• Camphor laurel Cinnamomum camphora
• Black Locust/Robinia Robinia pseudoacacia

Wood Weeds – There are a limited number of wood weeds that sucker or resprout post-fire in the Blue Mountains. These should be treated with herbicide as a high priority. Look for:

• Spanish Heath Erica lusitanica
• Cotoneaster Cotoneaster spp. (franchetii, pannosus, lacteus, glaucophyllus, horizontalis)

Tree species suckering post fire Photo: Sandy Benson

Are weeds good after fire?

Weeds can act as a buffer to reduce erosion and as a cover crop for native seedlings and animals post fire while natural native regeneration occurs.

Erosion risk increases after a fire due to the lack of groundcover to stabilise the soil which slows down the speed of runoff. Weeds are usually the first plants to emerge
after fire. If left for 3 to 6 months they can act as a ground layer, the plant roots stabilise the soil, and stems and leaves slow the water to give it time to percolate into the soil profile.

At the early stages any vegetation cover, including weeds can protect native seedlings. Weed seedlings grow quickly and can perform several jobs; protecting native seedlings
from erosion, drying out, returning nutrients to the soil and to provide food and shelter for insects and animals.

Weeds can be helpful up until a point, then they can be the bushlands worst enemy if left too long.

Assess burnt areas for weeds and the best control methods for the species. Control and target weeds before seed set, but limiting trampling as much as possible while bushland is still fragile.

When to treat weeds?

The months following a bushfire are among the best times to control weed species. However, it is very important to remember to leave burnt areas alone for the first 3-6 months to allow the soil to recover and native seedlings to establish, as over enthusiastic weed control can cause damage.

Post fire, soil forms a crust (soil sealing) that protects and reduces the loss of soil, organic matter and seedbank from rain events and erosion. The crust is formed through a combination of elements; when rain hits the soil, it dislocates the silt and clay making way for moss, lichen, algae or fungi, and cyanobacteria to enter which then
forms a surface crust.

The combined protective cover elements such as the soil crust and seedlings can protect the soil throughout the first-year post fire. Natural regeneration is the priority.
Monitoring the site for weed growth indicators such as fresh new growth and flowering should be used as the cue for treatment. Take care to prevent any off-target damage
to native plants.

Post fire soil forming crust forming Photo: Sandy Benson

Birds in Backyard Winter Survey

The days are shorter, temperatures drop, but backyard birdwatching never stops!

Brew a nice warm beverage, round up the troops and head outside for our 20 minute Birds in Backyards Winter Survey 2020.

Birdlife Australia encourages you to participate. https://www.birdsinbackyards.net/content/article/Its-Winter-Survey-Time-0

If you are unsure where or how to start, or even feel like you don’t know the first thing about birds only that you love to see them, then fear not! Our Urban Birds Program Co-Manager, Dr. Holly Parsons, will be hosting four free webinars on Wednesday 3rd of June at 7pm (AEST)Sunday 7th June at 2pm (AEST), Wednesday July 1 at 7pm (AEST) or Sunday July 5 at 2pm (AEST). These webinars will focus on how to use Birdata, bird ID’ing tips and tricks, how to complete one of our Birds in Backyards surveys and why this data is important. You can register for a session here

Week 5: Advanced Weeds of the Blue Mountains Crossword Puzzle

Test your weed knowledge with this ‘advanced’ weeds of the Blue Mountains crossword puzzle.

Instructions

CLICK on the link below and follow the instructions to either fill in online or print a hard copy.

Week 5: Advanced Weeds of the Blue Mountains Crossword Puzzle

To FILL IN ONLINE

  1. CLICK on the clue listed under Across or Down – and this will highlight the corresponding boxes (purple) to fill in on the crossword.
  2. To TYPE in the answer CLICK on the purple highlighted box in the crossword and start typing your answer (a correct answer turns the boxes green). If your answer was incorrect then use the backspace to delete then try again for this answer only!!
  3. To RESET ANSWERS (all answers) scroll down the screen‚  below the crossword and CLICK Reset Answer (red button)

To PRINT a Hardcopy scroll down the screen below the crossword and CLICK Print My Puzzle (purple button)

Answers to the questions are: Week 4 – Native Animals of the Blue Mountains Crossword Puzzle

Across 2. Bandicoot 4. Turtle 8. Skink 10. Frog 12. Wallaby 14. Dingo 15. Dragon  Down 1. Koala 2. Bat 3. Quoll 5. Echidna 6. Crayfish 7. Platypus 9. Snake 11. Glider 12. Wombat 13. Lizard

Answers to the questions are: Week 5 – Advanced Weeds of the Blue Mountains Crossword Puzzle

Week 4: Native Animals of the Blue Mountains Crossword Puzzle

Find Animals Of The Blue Mountains crossword puzzle (for kids). Most of the animals can be found in Blue Mountains Animals by Margaret Baker and Robin Corringham.

Instructions

CLICK on the link below and follow the instructions to either fill in online or print a hard copy.

Week 4: Native animals of the Blue Mountains crossword puzzle (for kids)

To FILL IN ONLINE

  1. CLICK on the clue listed under Across or Down – and this will highlight the corresponding boxes (purple) to fill in on the crossword.
  2. To TYPE in the answer CLICK on the purple highlighted box in the crossword and start typing your answer (a correct answer turns the boxes green). If your answer was incorrect then use the backspace to delete then try again for this answer only!!
  3. To RESET ANSWERS (all answers) scroll down the screen‚  below the crossword and CLICK Reset Answer (red button)

To PRINT a Hardcopy scroll down the screen below the crossword and CLICK Print My Puzzle (purple button)

Answers are below: Week 3 – Native Birds of the Blue Mountains Crossword Puzzle

Across 1.Wren 4.King 10.Yellow 12.Wonga 13.Magpie 14.Sulphur 15.Boobook 16.Rock 18.Wattlebird 21.Whip 23.Powerful 24.Eastern 29.Rosella 31.Peewee 32.Treecreeper 35.Butcherbird 36.Currawong 37.Noisy  Down 2.Raven 3.Golden 4.Kookaburra 5.Grey 6.Frogmouth 7.Bower 8.Swallow 9.Galah 11.Duck 17.Bell 19.Koel 20.Brown 21.White 22.Plover 25.Silvereye 26.Wedge 27.Honeyeater 28.Lyrebird 30.Red 33.Cuckoo 34.Noisy

Answers are below: Week 4 – Native Animals of the Blue Mountains Crossword Puzzle

Blank Canvas – Before and After

By Malcolm McPherson

As part of the COVID-19 times we asked volunteers about taking ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos. This inspired Malcolm to tell his story – goals, struggles and challenges converting his concrete pad ‘front’ and ‘back’ yards into a native garden and native habitat.

At the end of the article there are some useful links to RFS – assest protection zones, creating a native garden in a fire prone areas and a guide to native plants to grow in fire prone areas within the Blue Mountains.

Creating a native habitat – great for pollinators. Photo: Malcolm McPherson

To read the full story click on the download.

When you buy a new house, the garden may not have been important to your decision. The garden may be well designed and maintained. If it is not to your taste, you can gradually change it. In my case, the garden was non-existent. It was a blank canvas. Worse than that, the front had been completely concreted over and at the back was a large expanse of concrete which had formed the slab for a large workshed and associated driveway. A large dog had trampled anything green. A significant area of that part of the backyard that was not under concrete was heavily shaded by neighbours’ deciduous trees.

Removing concrete is heavy work. I used a jackhammer, concrete saw and angle grinder for the first time in my life. You do not know what you will find under the concrete. If the original pour had been over fibro as happens sometimes in older buildings (see Caution note below), the cost of removal can be prohibitive. The soil beneath may have been filled or contaminated with material not conducive to plant growth. Bringing in some native soil mix is good insurance. Eight or ten centimetres is enough for the plants to become established.

Before, Beginning, During and After Photos – creating a native garden from a concrete pad.

When designing a garden it is always necessary to consider physical constraints such as powerlines and clotheslines. Planting prickly or spiky plants next to paths is best avoided!

There is always the temptation to choose plants that represent environments that we like. Tree ferns and other species that like a damp environment along stream banks are not going to survive on the top of the plateau where most of the older mountain town dwellings are located. Finding plants that live on the top of the plateau that can also tolerate shade was a challenge. It is not a common situation in nature in the mountains.

As with bushcare planting in denuded areas, planting is something of a gamble. Acacia terminalis is reputed to be a hardy colonising species, one that would seem to have been ideally suited to my bare garden. The few that have done well are in sheltered positions. Unlike bushcare locations, it is usually possible to keep up the water until plants are established. Until larger shrubs and trees are established, it is best to think of plant succession. In the beginning, it is about whatever grows. The end result may take some years to accomplish.

CAUTION:  Asbestos has been used in thousands of homes throughout Australia. It is most commonly found in fibro. In 2003, the manufacture and supply of asbestos was banned. If you suspect Asbestos on your property then the safest way to remove any quantity of asbestos is to get an appropriately licensed professional to come and do the work for you. SafeWork NSW has a list of licensed asbestos assessors on the SafeWork NSW website. For advice on removal, disposal, and transport of asbestos waste materials in NSW contact Office of Environment & Heritage Pollution Line on 131555 or your local council www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/council/asbestos .View this Working safely with Asbestos around the home Fact Sheet

Useful Links:

Rural Fire Servicehttps://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/

RFS – Standards for Asset Protection Zones https://ww.rfs.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/13321/Standards-for-Asset-Protection-Zones.pdf

Blue Mountains City Council Guide: Best local native plants for use in bushfire prone locations www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/documents/guide-best-local-native-plants-for-use-bushfire-prone-locations

Colonising Plant Species

Article by James Bevan

The Concept

Plant species which establish after environmental disturbances events are known as “colonisers” or colonising plant species. Following 2019-20 summer bushfires and floods, colonising plants are germinating from seed into the ground layer vegetation stratum. These autotrophic organisms (which produce their own energy as carbon from photosynthesis) are currently superabundant, capturing carbon for ecological communities across the Blue Mountains. This process is known as secondary ecological succession.

The below photo shows a local example of secondary ecological succession dominated by ground layer species Sigesbeckia orientalis and Australian Basket Grass (Oplismenus aemulus).

Clearing with ground colonised by ground layer species
Colonising plants initiating secondary succession at Carlons Creek, Blue Mountains NP. Photo: James Bevan

Interestingly, many colonising plant species are related members of certain plant families, such as the Grasses (Poaceae), Daisies (Asteraceae), Nightshades (Solanaceae), Peas (Fabaceae), and Mints (Lamiaceae). Some of the colonising species which are currently abundant post-fire and rain are listed in the Table below (Table 1).

Table 1: Examples of Colonising Plant Species

FamilyColonising Plants
Poaceae (Grasses)Right Angle Grass, Wiry Panic (Entolasia marginata)
Poaceae (Grasses)Weeping Grass (Microlaena stipoides)
Poaceae (Grasses)Australian Basket Grass (Oplismenus aemulus)
Poaceae (Grasses)*Panic Veldtgrass (Ehrharta erecta)
Asteraceae (Daisies)Sigesbeckia orientalis
Asteraceae (Daisies)*Fleabane (Conyza spp.)
Solanaceae (Nightshades)Kangaroo Apple (Solanum aviculare)
Solanaceae (Nightshades)*Blackberry Nightshade (Solanum nigrum)
Fabaceae (Peas)Hickory Wattle (Acacia falcata)
Fabaceae (Peas)Dusky Coral Pea (Kennedia rubicunda)
Fabaceae (Peas)*Scotch Broom (Cytisus scoparius)
Lamiaceae (Mints)Cockspur Flower (Plectranthus parviflorus)
NB. * indicates introduced species

Practical Application – Revegetation

Planted colonising species often have high survivorship rates on revegetation sites. Succession planting describes using colonising plant species during the first stage of revegetation, similar to the process of ecological succession. As our climate continues to change, plantings can expect to be exposed to extreme heat, longer summers and long periods between rain events. Planting colonising plant species with a high survivorship and fecundity may improve the efficiency of long-term ecological restoration.

For example, widely distributed native colonising species that may be suitable for revegetation include Right Angle Grass (Entolasia spp.), Weeping Grass (Microlaena stipoides), Australian Basket Grass (Oplismenus aemulus), Sigesbeckia orientalis, Kangaroo Apple (Solanum aviculare), Hickory Wattle (Acacia falcata), Dusky Coral Pea (Kennedia rubicunda) and Cockspur Flower (Plectranthus parviflorus). The ecological communities found on your local Bushcare site will support locally adapted colonising plant species. Your local Bushcare Officer may be a good source of further advice on this topic.

Blue Mountains Bushcare welcomes new Bushcare Officer James Bevan

Integral to Bushcare is depth of knowledge, understanding and leadership, and we are delighted to introduce you to our new Bushcare Officer, James Bevan. James will be taking over the Swampcare Program.

James Bevan
New Bushcare officer James Bevan

James has ten years’ experience in both aquatic and terrestrial Australian ecosystems applying his knowledge and skills across a variety of fields from ecological consulting, bush regeneration and training young adults. James’ studied a BSc.(Hons) at Sydney University, and his previous employers have included The Good Bush People, Conservation Volunteers Australia and The Australian Museum. James began appreciating the Blue Mountains’ bushland as a teenager, and is thrilled to be working as a Bushcare Officer.  

Please welcome James to the Bushcare family.

Chiloglottis – Wasp Orchid

Article by Karen Hising, Jan Allen and Keith Brister

Jan Allen, a very observant Bushcare volunteer from the Upper Mountains, found this beautiful Orchid.  From research, we were not sure of the full identification, but we have been advised that it may be Chiloglottis seminuda – other experts may offer an opinion. 

Chiloglottis species – front view Photo credit: K Brister

The genera Chiloglottis is also known as Wasp Orchid.  The common name comes from the “callus” – the glands on the labellum, which resemble the body of a female wasp.  Instead of being attracted by the general offer of nectar or pollen, many Orchid species, such as the native Chiloglottis genera, use sexual deception to attract male wasp pollinators.  These Orchids emit an odorous pheromone very similar to the sexual pheromone produced by females of the pollinator species, thereby luring the male to the flower with the false offer of sex. 

Chiloglottis species – rear view. Photo credit: K Brister

Pollination occurs when the male wasps attempt to copulate with structures on the Orchid labellum that mimic the wingless, ant-like female.  The high degree of specificity between sexually-deceptive Orchids and their pollinators indicates that there must be subtle, but important, differences in the pheromones produced among even closely related Orchids.

References:

Uncovering The Sexual Tricks Of Orchid Flowers (Abstract) – Julianne D Livingston http://press-files.anu.edu.au/downloads/press/n1676/pdf/ch04.pdf

Memoirs Of The Museum Of Victoria 56(2):461-466 (1997) Hidden Biodiversity:  Detection Of Cryptic Thynnine Wasp Species Using Sexually-Deceptive, Female-Mimicking Orchids (Abstract) – Colin C. Bower and Graham R. Brown https://museumsvictoria.com.au/media/4804/jmmv19975639.pdf

http://peonyden.blogspot.com/2011/01/wasp-orchid-chiloglottis-reflexa-comes.html

CLICK below to read the book review – Orchids of the Blue Mountains by Sabine Hanisch and Ben Jasiak; how their daughter discovered a long lost orchid and also about the multi-billion dollar Bush Blitz project – a project finding thousands of new species.