“A few species remain very poorly known in the Kimberley, with only a single location known for three of the ground orchids, Habenaria hymenophylla
, Spiranthes sinensis
, and Zeuxine oblonga
,” Dr Barrett said.
“Only a single site has been recorded for the tree orchid Dendrobium foelschei
, but the population was subsequently killed by a hot fire that scorched the Melaleuca
trees it grew in, so this species may no longer occur in the Kimberley.”
Dr Barrett said feral animals such as pigs could also destroy orchids and their habitats.
“Many orchid relationships remain poorly understood and new genetic data is likely to lead to additional name changes in coming years, and perhaps even additional species,” he said.
“Orchids such as Habenaria eurystoma
occur in very discreet areas in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland, separated by 1000 km or more.
“It remains to be determined how long these populations have been separated, and whether more than one species should be recognised. Genetic data is likely to be crucial in answering such questions.”
Dr Barrett said they hoped the paper would increase understanding and appreciation of Kimberley plants and landscapes and promote further research.
Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust Chief Executive Denise Ora said the research the Institute was undertaking was critical to understanding and conserving our environment.
“Across the country and globally, our scientists are ensuring more is discovered about plant species so we can continue to protect them,” she said.
Read more on orchids
Did you know a large proportion of Australian native terrestrial orchids are endangered or threatened in New South Wales? It's why they are a focus for the NSW Government’s Saving our Species program!
Find out more in this story.