Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Kangaloon Sun Orchid - an endemic rare plant

This is the famous Kangaloon Sun Orchid, Thelymitra kangaloonica.
Haven't heard of it? Shame on you, dear reader. It has been written up here, before.

It is one of those "Threatened Species" things which we managed to use to convince Malcolm Turnbull to declare the SCA's Upper Nepean (Kangaloon) Groundwater project to be a "Controlled Action" under the EPBC Act.

And last year, Peter Garrett deemed this plant to be "critically endangered" and put it on the Threatened Species lists of the EPBC Act.

The problem for this plant is that it lives only at 3 known locations in the Southern Highlands - all of which are under the control of the SCA.
  1. Wildes Meadow Swamp was flooded by the SCA to build the Fitzroy Falls Reservoir - so that registered swamp habitat (for this plant) is now permanently under water.
  2. Stockyard Swamp is off limits to everybody except Coal Miners, Power Company workers, Drilling Rigs and all those other sensitive souls who work for the SCA. That is right in their best source of water for the SCA in trying to develop the Kangaloon Borefield - well, so they believe anyway. Orchid enthusiasts, even authentic researchers are denied access. It was where this species was first found, and "voucher specimens" collected. It was identified at that stage as belonging to a different species (Thelymitra grandiflora). Those herbarium specimens have since been re-examined and found to belong to this species.
  3. That leaves Butlers Swamp. Fortunately, the SCA has continued to recognise as legitimate the interests of the Australasian Native Orchid Society, Illawarra Branch, which has conducted surveys of Butlers Swamp for some 30 years. Butler's Swamp is the "type locality" for this plant. In other words, the specimen from which this plant was formally described and named came from Butler's Swamp.
So there they were, flowering happily last weekend.
(Click to enlarge image)
Here are two flowers on a multi-flowered stem.
You can see the rich blue colouring (with a hint of purple)
and the strong veining.
And here is the distinctive column and "post-anther lobe"
(the hooded bit over the column)
The "column arms" are held relatively flat in this species
(they do not bend or curl upwards as some others do)
and are well separated from the yellow section of the "hood".
The lobe is "notched" and "toothed.
These are diagnostic features of this species.It was gratifying to see that these plants are doing quite well this year.

Lets hope that the SCA does not resume pumping from the Kangaloon Aquifer, for when they did their trial pumping, they dried the swamp out terribly, despite their denials to the contrary. We have photographic evidence of that.


Mosura said...

Nice to se them doing well at that site (for now).

Does Kangaloon (as in the place name) have a known meaning?

mick said...

Beautiful flowers and great photos but very depressing to think that the "economy" and "progress" are used as excuses to ignore and destroy flowers like that.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mosura.
In one of those explanations which stretches credibility the name apparently means: "Kangaloon is Aboriginal for 'kangaroo landing ground' - Sourced from NSW Geographical Names Board of NSW.
Landing ground?
Makes them sound like low-flying aeroplanes. Very odd.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mick
Yes, it is outrageous, in my mind, that such rare plants are threatened by the economic rationalists and the opportunists who are running NSW.
This swamp is about 10 acres. Surely that could be "excised" from the borefield?

Miss Eagle said...

Denis, one little economic rule of thumb is scarcity+demand = value. If you keep promoting the little blue friend on your blog with continued reference to its scarcity then the scarcity and demand components might be in sufficient quantity to give the little thing a quantifiable value.


Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Brigid.
I hear (from you) that one Economist is assessing the value of forests, and probably whales.
Orchids, especially swampy Orchids like this, will be way down the line.
But I keep hoping.
Thanks for the encouragement.

Anonymous said...

Hi Denis,
I tried to email you at the address I had for you p******, but it bounced, so hopefully you receive my message this way. I thought you would like to know that the NSW Scientific Committee has made a preliminary determination to list Thelymitra sp. Kangaloon (aka David Jones’s Thelymitra kangaloonica), as a critically endangered species under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act. Once they publish the notification this Friday 28th Jan, a copy of the preliminary determination should also be found at Otherwise I can send you a copy by email, if you let me know your current address. You may want to make a submission supporting its listing – instructions on doing so are detailed in the notice of determination and on the webpage.

best regards,

Denis Wilson said...

Many thanks Nick.
Very pleased that you have followed me up with this.
I had already heard, but I am very gratified that you have contacted me.
Much obliged.
Incidentally, the first para of the draft determination refers to it as a "Shrub". Subsequently it is referred to as a Para 2 of the Preliminary Determination refers to it as a "short-lived perennial" which is correct.
I shall comment on that, by way of a correction.
Apart from that I shall strongly support the listing proposal.
Many thanks.