Rescuing a Delicious Australian Orchid

The Sydney Morning Herald reports on saving the Sunshine Diuris, a rare and delicious Australian orchid species. Diuris fragrantissima is also known as Snow in the Paddocks. Once common in grasslands around Melbourne, this species’ tubers were a favorite food source for Aboriginal peoples. It was so plentiful that European settlers picked its flowers by the armfuls for its sweet fragrance. But then habitat destruction, urbanization, and livestock grazing reduced its vast populations, until it was feared to be extinct. Fortunately a small patch survived, and was fenced off for protection. Now, scientists are using lab-grown plants to reestablish wild populations. Ecologist John Bradford, who is one of the people working to save the Sunshine Diuris, says that the orchid is a link with past landscapes and past peoples. “It’s a link, too, with the people who have cared for this place over the past 60 years. We pushed back against a billion-dollar project. Some things are more important than money.”

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