National recovery plan for the Glossy-leafed Hammer Orchid (Drakaea elastica )
Department of Environment and Conservation, Kensington, 2009
- National recovery plan for the Glossy-leafed Hammer Orchid (Drakaea elastica ) (PDF - 325 KB) | (RTF - 1 MB)
- Scientific Name: Drakaea elastica
- Common Name: Glossy-leafed Hammer Orchid
- Family: Orchidaceae
- Flowering Period: September to early November
- DEC Regions: Midwest, South West and Swan
- DEC Districts: Blackwood, Moora, Perth Hills, Swan Coastal and Wellington
- Local Government Authorities: Armadale, Busselton, Capel, Chittering, Cockburn, Dandaragan, Gingin, Gosnells, Harvey, Kwinana, Murray, Rockingham, Serpentine-Jarrahdale and Waroona
- Recovery Teams: Moora District Threatened Flora and Communities Recovery Team, South West Region Threatened Flora and Communities Recovery Team and Swan Region Threatened Flora and Communities Recovery Team
Illustrations and/or further information:
Atkins, K. (2008) Declared Rare and Priority Flora List for Western Australia, Department of Environment and Conservation, Western Australia; Brown, A., Thomson-Dans, C. and Marchant, N. (Eds) (1998) Western Australia’s Threatened Flora , Department of Conservation and Land Management, Western Australia; Hoffman, N. & Brown, A. (1998) Orchids of South-west Australia , Revised 2nd edition with supplement, University of Western Australia Press, Nedlands; Carstairs, S. & Coates, D. (1994) Conservation Genetics and Population Ecology of Five Rare and Threatened Western Australian Orchids; Hopper, S.D. & Brown, A.P. (2007) A revision of Australia’s hammer orchids (Drakaea : Orchidaceae), with some field data on species-specific sexually-deceived wasp pollinators, Australian Systematic Botany 20, 1–34; Evans, R., Willers, N. & Mitchell, D. (2003) Threatened Flora of Swan Region , Unpublished report to the Western Australian Department of Conservation and Land Management, and Environment Australia; Patrick, S. & Brown, A. (2001) Declared Rare and Poorly Known Flora in the Moora District , Department of Conservation and Land Management, Western Australia; Williams, K., Horan, A., Wood, S. & Webb, A. (2001) Declared Rare and Poorly Known Flora in the Central Forest Region , WA Wildlife Management Program No. 33, Department of Conservation and Land Management, Western Australia; Western Australian Herbarium (1998-) FloraBase – The Western Australian Flora , Department of Environment and Conservation, Western Australia, http://florabase.calm.wa.gov.au/ (accessed 2007).
Drakaea elastica was declared as Rare Flora (as D. jeanensis ) under the Western Australian Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 in July 1988 and is ranked as Critically Endangered (CR) under World Conservation Union (IUCN) criterion B2ab(ii,iii,iv,v) (IUCN 2001) due to the severe fragmentation of populations and the continuing decline in the area, extent and quality of habitat and number of mature individuals. The main threats are land clearing, degradation and fragmentation of habitat, edge effects, density of ground-level vegetation, grazing, inappropriate disturbance, construction and maintenance work, rubbish dumping, weeds, disease, inappropriate fire regimes, poor recruitment and salinity. D. elastica is listed as Endangered under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
Drakaea elastica has a slender flower stem up to 30 cm high and a single distinctively glossy, bright green, prostrate, heart-shaped leaf 1 to 2 cm in diameter. The leaf emerges in May and starts to wither by the time the orchid flowers in September. The single flower is 3 to 4 cm long with a hinged labellum. Flowers are first seen in late September and continue flowering until late October or more rarely early November. Individual plants may not flower every year. The plant dies back to a dormant underground tuber over summer. The best time to look for the plant is in July and August when the leaves are relatively conspicuous.
Drakaea elastica is currently known only from the Swan Coastal Plain over a range of approximately 350 km between Cataby in the north and Busselton in the south. The species grows on bare patches of sand within otherwise dense vegetation in low-lying areas alongside winter-wet swamps, typically in banksia (Banksia menziesii, B. attenuata and B. ilicifolia ) woodland or spearwood (Kunzea glabrescens ) thicket vegetation. D. elastica often occurs with other orchid species such as Drakaea glyptodon (king-in-his-carriage), D. livida (warty hammer orchid) and Paracaleana nigrita (flying duck orchid). The increased rates of survival in sites with relatively little direct sun exposure (Carstairs and Coates 1994) indicate a requirement for shady canopy cover to be present.
Habitat critical to the survival of the species, and important populations:
Habitat critical to the survival of the species includes the area of occupancy of important populations; areas of similar habitat surroundingimportant populations (i.e. low-lying areas of deep sand supporting banksia woodland or spearwood thicket), as these areas provide potential habitat for natural range extension and are necessary to support viable populations of the associated mycorrhizal fungus and the pollinating wasp species crucial to the orchid’s survival, and to allow pollinators to move between populations; and additional occurrences of similar habitat that may contain important populations of the species or be suitable sites for future translocations or other recovery actions intended to create important populations.
Given that this species is listed as Endangered (EPBC Act), it is considered that all known habitat for wild and translocated populations is habitat critical to its survival, and that all wild and translocated populations are important populations.
Benefits to other species or ecological communities:
Caladenia huegelii (listed as DRF under the Wildlife Conservation Act, ranked as Critically Endangered in WA, and listed as Endangered under the EPBC Act) occurs at the same site as Population 29 of Drakaea elastica , and Drakaea micrantha (listed as DRF under the Wildlife Conservation Act, ranked as Endangered in WA, and listed as Vulnerable under EPBC Act) occurs at the same site as Population 35 of Drakaea elastica . Recovery actions such as the negotiation of agreements that protect Drakaea elastica and its habitat and the management of fire, disease and weeds will protect these other rare flora species and the ecological community in which they occur.
This plan is fully consistent with the aims and recommendations of the Convention on Biological Diversity, ratified by Australia in June 1993, and will assist in implementing Australia’s responsibilities under that Convention. Drakaea elastica is listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), ratified by Australia in July 1976. The aim of that convention is to ensure that international trade in listed species does not threaten their survival (UNEP-WCMC 2007). This plan is in full accord with that aim.
Involvement of the Indigenous community is being sought through the Indigenous reference groups for the Northern Agricultural Catchment Council, Swan Catchment Council and South West Catchment Council to determine whether there are any issues or interests identified in the plan. A search of the Department of Indigenous Affairs’ Aboriginal Heritage Sites Register has identified a number of sites in the area of Drakaea elastica populations.
Where no role is identified for the indigenous community associated with this species in the development of the recovery plan, opportunities may exist through cultural interpretation and awareness of the species. Indigenous involvement in the implementation of recovery actions will be encouraged.
Social and economic impact:
A number of proposed infrastructure and other land development proposals have the potential to impact populations of Drakaea elastica. Consultation is occurring with the proponents, and the potential impact of the proposals on this species is being considered in environmental impact assessments by the State and Commonwealth authorities. Impact minimisation is the aim of consultation, and appropriate environmental offsets are negotiated where impact will still occur.
The implementation of the rest of the Drakaea elastica recovery plan is unlikely to cause significant adverse social or economic impacts. However, as some populations are located on private property and in areas leased for mining activities, their protection may potentially affect farming and mining activities. Recovery actions will involve liaison and cooperation with all stakeholders with regard to these areas.
Stakeholders potentially affected by the implementation of this plan include managers of land on which Drakaea elastica occurs, including private property owners, Main Roads Western Australia, Southern Gateway Alliance, Iluka Resources Limited, Jandakot Airport Holdings, Western Power Corporation, Alinta Limited, Shire of Capel, Shire of Harvey, City of Armadale and DEC.
Evaluation of the plan’s performance:
The Department of Environment and Conservation will evaluate the performance of this recovery plan in conjunction with the South West Region, Swan Region and Moora District Threatened Flora and Communities Recovery Teams. In addition to annual reporting on progress with listed actions and comparison against the criteria for success and failure, the plan is to be reviewed within five years of its implementation.
Completed recovery actions
- Relevant land managers have been made aware of the location and threatened status of the species.
- Liaison between DEC and relevant land managers is ongoing.
- Staff from DEC’s South West Region, Swan Region and Moora District monitor populations of the species.
- Further surveys for additional populations have been undertaken, and new populations located.
- Fencing has been installed to protect a population from grazing.
- Three separate salvage operations have been made for small numbers of plants in the path of construction works.
- Orchid and fungus tissue culture material and seed has been collected and stored at the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority.
Ongoing and future recovery actions
- Investigations into the biological and ecological requirements of Drakaea elastica ’s pollinator and associated mycorrhizal fungus have commenced.
- An information sheet that describes and illustrates the species has been prepared and will be printed in the near future.
- The South West Region, Swan Region and Moora District Threatened Flora and Communities Recovery Teams are overseeing the implementation of this recovery plan and will include information on progress in an annual report to DEC's Corporate Executive and funding bodies.
Recovery plan objective:
The objective of this recovery plan is to abate identified threats and maintain or enhance viable in situ populations to ensure the long-term preservation of the species in the wild.
Criteria for success:
The total number of mature (flowering) plants and/or the area of occupancy is maintained over the five year term of the plan.
Criteria for failure:
The total number of mature (flowering) plants and/or the area of occupancy has decreased by twenty percent or more over the five year term of the plan.
- Coordinate recovery actions
- Liaise with appropriate stakeholders
- Reduce impact of grazing on seed production
- Negotiate agreements that protect D. elastica and habitat
- Undertake hand pollination
- Collect and store seed
- Monitor populations
- Obtain biological and ecological information
- Implement weed control
- Develop and implement a fire management strategy
- Develop and implement a phytophthora strategy
- Conduct further surveys
- Develop best practice protocols for translocations
- Promote awareness
- Map habitat critical to survival
- Review the Plan