Fungus a Lifesaver for Rare Orchids

Conservationists in Australia are relying on fungus to save endangered orchids. Like most orchids, the Rosella Spider Orchid and The Wine-Lipped Spider Orchid grow with the help of fungus. Both orchid species have declined due to habitat destruction, grazing, invasive species, and development. To help reinforce the remaining wild populations, researchers and volunteers plan to start seedlings at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, and then transplant them into the wild.

However, growing orchids from seed is complicated. Orchids and fungi form symbiotic relationships to exchange nutrients, and orchid seeds need a fungus to germinate and grow. Since different types of orchids need different types of fungi, conservationists need to identify and cultivate the correct fungus for each variety. After seeds germinate, it will take two years before the young plants can be transplanted into the wild, and four or five years before they are mature enough to flower. It’s intricate work that requires lots of patience. Biologist Tom May commented ”What is happening in nature is so complex. The interactions between the fungi and the orchids being pollinated by wasps is just the start. You’ve got to put all the pieces back together again.”

Explore posts in the same categories: Conservation, In the News

Subscribe to the About Orchids Blog:
AddThis Feed Button

Both comments and pings are currently closed.

2 Comments on “Fungus a Lifesaver for Rare Orchids”

  1. Marcia Laird Says:

    Fantastic post, very informative. I did not know it was so hard to grow orchids from seed.

  2. Iris Beck Says:

    Thanks, very interesting.