Calochilus pulchellus Summer (Australia) 2008 Update photos and text by Alan Stephenson
Following the translocation in 2007 of several plants of Calochilus
pulchellus from the path of a residential development I
several follow-up visits to hand water all plants to hopefully sustain
them during what is the trauma of adjustment to a new site. This is
despite the large section of earth left around the plants at the time
of removal. Of all relocated plants I was of the opinion the plant in
the stump would have a greater chance of survival than the others. How
wrong I was, as in the flowering season of 2008 not only did this plant
not flower but it seems a colony of ants has either eaten the tuber or
undermined whatever was supporting it (rotted wood) and has
Of the plants relocated two lots were not Calochilus
pulchellus but turned out to be a very common species, Thelymitra
ixioides. When assessing the plants from around the base
of the stump I
noted most had been nipped off by animals to a leaf length of 2 cm –
3cm (one inch), therefore the colour normally evident at the base of
the leaf was not properly visible and the plants were relocated more on
suspicion of being C.
pulchellus than a definite identification. One
plant later flowered but this was one of the original four plants noted
during the original find on the site. This plant has survived and
produced a single flower in 2008 and is now the only relocated plant
expected to continue. Herein lies the perils of translocation,
particularly a translocation carried out without time to undertake
extensive surveys to determine a good habitat for the translocation.
However late in the season of 2007 four extra plants were discovered
and fortunately these are within the 53 hectare (20 acres) of habitat
for Prasophyllum affine
hunteriana (and pollinators)
which is now surrounded by wire fencing. The four plants are within 20
metres of a control plot (one of seven) used to monitor the annual
flowering vagaries of P.
The good news for 2008 is that these
four plants from 2007 have all flowered and within 2 metres I have
found a further three flowering plants. Needless to say that during the
2009 monitoring of P.
affine I will take time out to look for more
plants of C. pulchellus
as with the misidentification of some of the
2007 plants the C.
pulchellus population still stands at approximately
30 plants. I did venture to the larger site containing 18 plants in
2007 and located 14 of these but in 2008 none were located on this site
or at two other areas of suitable habitat within 10 km.
Alan W Stephenson
National Conservation Officer
Australasian Native Orchid Society (ANOS)
Australian Orchid Council (AOC)