Biodiversity

Species Profile and Threats Database


For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
 
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Endangered as Thelymitra epipactoides
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, this species had a recovery plan in force at the time the legislation provided for the Minister to decide whether or not to have a recovery plan (19/2/2007).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans National Recovery Plan for Twenty-five Threatened Orchid taxa of Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales 2003-2007 (Coates, F., J. Jeanes & A. Pritchard, 2002) [Recovery Plan] as Thelymitra epipactoides.
 
Policy Statements and Guidelines Draft survey guidelines for Australia's threatened orchids (Department of the Environment, 2013b) [Admin Guideline].
 
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument] as Thelymitra epipactoides.
 
State Government
    Documents and Websites
SA:South Australian Murray Darling Basin Threatened Flora Recovery Plan (Obst, C., 2005) [Report].
SA:Draft recovery plan for 23 threatened flora taxa on Eyre Peninsula, South Australia 2007-2012 (Pobke, K., 2007) [State Recovery Plan].
SA:Threatened Flora of the South Australian Murray Darling Basin. Metallic Sun-orchid Thelymitra epipactoides. Endangered (South Australian Department for Environment and Heritage (SA DEH), 2005d) [Information Sheet].
VIC:Action Statement No. 156, Metallic Sun-orchid, Thelymitra epipacroides (Coates, F., 2003a) [Management Plan].
State Listing Status
NSW: Listed as Extinct (Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (New South Wales): December 2013 list) as Thelymitra epipactoides
SA: Listed as Endangered (National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 (South Australia): June 2011 list) as Thelymitra epipactoides
VIC: Listed as Threatened (Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (Victoria): February 2014 list) as Thelymitra epipactoides
Non-statutory Listing Status
VIC: Listed as Endangered (Advisory List of Rare or Threatened Plants in Victoria: 2005)
Scientific name Thelymitra epipactoides [11896]
Family Orchidaceae:Orchidales:Liliopsida:Magnoliophyta:Plantae
Species author F.Muell.
Infraspecies author  
Reference Fragmenta Phytographiae Australiae 5: 174 (Oct. 1866).
Other names Thelymitra epipacroides [67253]
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images
http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/biodiversity/arkoneyre/images/activities_contents6.jpg

Scientific name: Thelymitra epipactoides

Common name: Metallic Sun-orchid

Other Name: Stout sun-orchid
The taxonomy of this species is conventionally accepted.

The Metallic Sun-orchid is a robust herb 6–60 cm high (Weber & Bates 1986; Weber & Entwistle 1994). It has fleshy, thick, egg-shaped creamy white roots underneath a ring of roots at about 40 mm below the soil surface (Cropper et al. 1989). The leaf is long, fleshy and lance-shaped, and grows up to 40 cm long. The leaf is loosely sheathing and forms a tube at the base (Cropper et al. 1989; Weber & Bates 1986; Weber & Entwistle 1994). Mature non-flowering plants have slightly narrower leaves to 51 cm long and not sheathing, while immature plants produce a linear leaf which is at an acute angle to the ground and up to 34 cm long (Cropper et al. 1989).

There are 5–20 flowers per flower cluster, and each flower is 20–25 mm in diameter (Weber & Bates 1986; Weber & Entwistle 1994). The flower colour is highly variable with brown, copper, blue and green the main colour groups, with infusions of red, blue or green cells, giving a bronzy or metallic appearance (SWIFFT 2007a). The sepals are larger and firmer than the petals (Weber & Entwistle 1994). A sweet perfume is associated with the opened flowers, which only open on low humidity, sunny days (Cropper et al. 1989).

The Metallic Sun-orchid is distributed in southern Victoria and south-eastern South Australia. Remaining populations are now isolated and mainly confined to parks and reserves (SWIFFT 2007a).

In South Australia, scattered populations have been recorded in the South East, Murray Darling Basin and the Eyre Peninsula Natural Resource Management Regions. It is now considered extinct in the Southern Mt Lofty Ranges (Obst 2005; Weber & Bates 1986).

In Victoria, apart from a few populations in the coastal areas of Gippsland, the Metallic Sun-orchid has the majority of its sites in the South West region (SWIFFT 2007a). It was previously more widespread, for example in the south-western districts, Port Phillip Bay and Western Port areas and Mt Zero (Weber & Entwistle 1994). It was also known from the Grampians, but has not been found there recently (Coates et al. 2002).
The extent of occurrence for the Metallic Sun-orchid is 132 117 km² based on herbarium data from Australia's Virtual Herbarium (CHAH 2008a). This estimate is considered to be of low reliability.

The extent of occurrence on Eyre Peninsula (South Australia) is approximately 900 km², growing within latitude 34°23'35" to longitude 135°34'33" (Edillilie) in the north, and latitude 34°52' to longitude 135°40'30" (Mikkira) in the south (Pobke 2007).

In the Murray Darling Basin (South Australia) its extent of occurrence is 9191 km², growing within latitude 34°03' to longitude 139°05' in the north, and latitude 36°20' to longitude 141°00' in the south (Obst 2005).

The area of occupancy for the Metallic Sun-orchid is estimated at 83 km², based on the number of 1 km² grid squares in which the species is thought to occur. The estimate is considered to be of low reliability, as recent ground-truthing (on-site surveying to evaluate remote sensing data) has not occurred at all populations.

The area of occupancy of Metallic Sun-orchids on Eyre Peninsula was recorded as 0.0275 km² (Pobke 2007).


No information is available to estimate or indicate past or future changes in the extent of occurrence or area of occupancy.

In Victoria, the Metallic Sun-orchid was known from eight locations in 2002 (Coates et al. 2002), but now is currently known to occur in 11 locations (DSE 2004 as cited in Roe 2004). In South Australia, the number of populations is still being assessed (Coates et al. 2002).

The Metallic Sun-orchid was listed as in cultivation at the Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG) at Canberra in 1986, grown from seed using symbiotic germination techniques (Cropper 1993; Meredith & Richardson 1986). It was also being grown by a few orchid enthusiasts in South Australia, but not at the Black Hill Flora Centre or at the R.S. Rogers Orchid House in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens (Davies 1992). Obst (2005) reported that no seed or mycorrhizal fungi for this species is currently in long or short-term storage.

According to Cropper (1993), ex situ collections of this species are relatively small and not suitable for future reintroduction or translocation programs. Lack of success with transplanting of tubers is probably due to the symbiotic mycorrhizal fungi migrating away from the plant and into the surrounding soil when the plant was dormant (S. Cropper pers. comm. in Davies 1992).

As part of the Back from the Brink: Saving Victoria's Threatened Orchids project (Smith et al. 2005), the Metallic Sun-orchid is one of the species for which fungal cultures will be prepared or sourced for storage.

The majority of known Metallic Sun-orchid populations in the Eyre Peninsula region of South Australia are small and occur in highly fragmented vegetation on road and rail reserves. These fragmented populations may have low genetic variability and gene flow due to their small size and isolation. The low genetic variability may reduce the resilience of the species to environmental changes, pests or diseases (Pobke 2007).

South Australia populations
Davies (1992), in 1986, surveyed all sites of both conserved and unconserved populations in the South East and Murray Mallee regions of South Australia where the Metallic Sun-orchid had been collected in the last 20 years. In the South East region it had been collected from Mt Boothby and Big Heath Conservation Parks and observed in Messent Conservation Park. During this survey only four individuals were found in Mt Boothby Conservation Park, although 40 individuals were found during a survey of the park in 1983 following a fire. A search in Big Heath Conservation Park around the site of a 1969 collection of the Metallic Sun-orchid was unsuccessful. About six individuals were observed in Messent Conservation Park in 1977 but were not relocated during this survey (Davies 1992). Survey work was undertaken in Messent Conservation Park following an escaped prescribed burn in October 2002 (Cutten & Squire 2003), and again the following year, with plants being located for the first time since 1977 (Cutten 2004; Pearce & Hollow 2002).

Eleven unconserved populations were observed post-1979 in South Australia (Davies 1992). Of these, the only large population has since been destroyed by vegetation clearance, as has a population adjacent to Mt Boothby Conservation Park (R. Bates pers. comm. as cited in Davies 1992). A population of two plants in Tintinara township has not reappeared since discovery in 1979 (K. Russell as cited in Davies 1992). A small area of native vegetation surrounded by pines in Comaum Forest Reserve, with a population of the Metallic Sun-orchid, was last seen in 1983 (D. Kraehenbuehl pers. comm. as cited in Davies 1992), but was not investigated for this survey (Davies 1992).

An unconserved area of 893 ha of native vegetation in the Hundred of Marcollat contained at least three individuals (Davies 1992). In the Murray Mallee region, only two individuals were observed in the Hundred of Freeling. The Metallic Sun-orchid was also recorded from near Wellington by R. Taplin in 1990 (pers. comm. as cited in Davies 1992), from a native pine reserve managed by the Woods and Forests Department (Davies 1992).

Although no searches were conducted on Eyre Peninsula during Davies' 1992 survey, information on all surviving populations in this region were recorded by R. Bates (pers. comm. as cited in Davies 1992). Only one individual was observed in Wanilla Conservation Park, and 30 individuals in Wanilla Forest Reserve. A population alongside the Flinders Highway south of Wanilla only had one individual (R. Bates pers. comm. as cited in Davies 1992). On the Marble Range, one individual was observed on steep terrain in 1979 (J. Weber pers. comm. as cited in Davies 1992).

Fifteen South Australian National Parks and Wildlife Act Reserves containing significant populations of nationally threatened plant species were selected for study, with the goal of writing management guidelines for the threatened species in these reserves (Davies 1995b). For many of the populations studied, details had been recorded in Appendix 1 of Davies (1986, 1992). Searches in the reserves were initially undertaken at sites where the studied species were most recently collected. This enabled data to be collected on habitat preference, with similar habitats in other parts of the reserves searched. The Metallic Sun-orchid was recorded from the Coorong National Park and a further three unconserved incidental populations (Davies 1995b). A single plant was found from the 'Potter's Scrub' section of Coorong National Park, and although it was the only one seen at the time (D. Murfet pers. comm. as cited in Davies 1995b), a further four plants were observed in the general area during a Native Orchid Society of SA field trip in 1995 (K. Possingham pers. comm. as cited in Davies 1995b). The Metallic Sun-orchid was also observed in 1992 in roadside vegetation along the Princes Highway to the north of the park (Davies 1995b). One plant was observed in a State Flora native forest reserve near Tailem Bend in 1989 (R. Taplin pers. comm. as cited in Davies 1995b) and a population of 18 plants was also found in 1992, in native vegetation on private land between Monarto and Ferries McDonald Conservation Parks (C. Hoyle pers. comm. as cited in Davies 1995b).

As part of the above study, the Metallic Sun-orchid was also searched for in Messent Conservation Park, Mount Boothby Conservation Park and Wanilla Conservation Park, but no populations could be re-located (Davies 1995b).

A biological survey of the South East area of South Australia was conducted in September 1991, sampling from 340 quadrats of 30 x 30 m (Foulkes & Heard 2003). The survey area is bounded to the north by 36° latitude, the coastline to the south and west and the Victorian border to the east. The Metallic Sun-orchid was recorded four times. These locations were in the upper South East with three sites within 10 km of the coast between Kingston and Tilley Swamp and one site south-east of Keith (Foulkes & Heard 2003).

Surveys were conducted in the Gum Lagoon Conservation Park, South Australia, in September 1995 and October 1996 (Davies 2000c). Thirty-nine 30 m x 30 m quadrat sites were sampled throughout the park, with the sites chosen to ensure coverage of all landforms and soil types in the park. The Metallic Sun-orchid was only recorded in one vegetation community: Eucalyptus camaldulensis Woodland over Melaleuca brevifolia Open Shrubland and Low Shrubland. This community occurs on semi-saline loamy sand and sandy clay loam flats subject to seasonal inundation. Four plants of the Metallic Sun-orchid were found during the 1995 survey, at the edge of a shallow drain that had been bulldozed into the park in Section 25 Hundred of Laffer (Davies 2000c).

Stewart and colleagues (1998) conducted a biological survey of Tilley Swamp in December 1996 but the Metallic Sun-orchid was not recorded as present at this time.

A survey was conducted in the Alf Flat portion of the Messent Conservation Park, South Australia, in October and November 2001 (Cutten & Squire 2002). The Metallic Sun-orchid had previously been recorded within the low-lying sedgelands of the park in 1977, where about six individuals were observed near the boundary of the reserve (R. Bates, pers. comm. as cited in Davies 1992). Subsequent searches in 1987 and 1992 failed to re-locate this population (Davies 1995b).This survey also failed to re-locate any plants of the Metallic Sun-orchid (Cutten & Squire 2002).

A prescribed burn was conducted in Messent Conservation Park in May 2002 (Pearce & Hollow 2002). The burn escaped the control lines and burnt out approximately 3110 ha of the park, instead of the proposed 800 ha. The area was re-surveyed in October 2002 (Cutten & Squire 2003), with the Metallic Sun-orchid not being located, possibly as the survey was conducted before their obvious flowers had appeared. It was later found on the western edge of the burn area in 2003, the first record since 1977 (Pearce & Hollow 2002).

Victorian populations
Seven small populations where the Metallic Sun-orchid were known to occur in Victoria were studied in 1984–1986 (Cropper et al. 1989). This study was to research the morphology and biology to develop a better understanding of the species for its conservation and management. The main populations were found to be located within the Port Campbell National Park, Bay of Islands Coastal Reserve, Weecurra Flora Reserve near Casterton and at Kiata Flora Reserve near the Little Desert National Park. Smaller populations were found in the Grampians region, the Lower Glenelg National Park and the Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park. The last two populations were not located during 1985–1986 (Cropper et al. 1989).

Calder and colleagues (1989) studied four of the above sites, between June 1984 and December 1986. The sites studied in detail were Port Campbell National Park, Bay of Islands Coastal Reserve, Weecurra Flora Reserve and Kiata Flora Reserve, and were chosen as they supported the largest existing populations of the Metallic Sun-orchid in Victoria, as found by Cropper and colleagues (1989). The study was to investigate the ecology of the species to gain an understanding of its environment and vegetation community, and to contribute to the development of appropriate management for its protection (Calder et al. 1989). Although no additional populations or population numbers were recorded, as the study was concurrent with the above one by Cropper and colleagues (1989), detailed geographical and climatic information, and associated vegetation analysis was undertaken at 31 random, 5 m x 5 m quadrats. Additionally a further 78 circular quadrats of 40 cm radius were recorded around Metallic Sun-orchid plants (Calder et al. 1989). A reassessment of the Port Campbell National Park population in 1991 (Cropper 1993), in preparation for prescribed burn, recorded a large decline in numbers. Although the area of the population was kept fairly open by strong salt winds, there were few adult plants recorded (Cropper 1993).

The total population size of the Metallic Sun-orchid in the wild is estimated between 500 and 3000 plants (Coates et al. 2002).

South Australia
In South Australia, the Metallic Sun-orchid is known from the following populations:

A population at Hundred of Marcollat contained three individuals (Davies 1992). A small area of native vegetation surrounded by pines in Comaum Forest reserve contained the Metallic Sun-orchid, and was last seen in 1983 (D. Kraehenbuehl pers. comm. as cited in Davies 1992). In 1991 three populations were recorded between Kingston and Tilley Swamp (including the one in Tilley Swamp in the table below), and one population near Brimbago, south-east of Keith (CHAH 2008a; Foulkes & Heard 2003).

Also in the South East Region of South Australia, it has been recorded from the following Conserved populations (Davies 1992, 2000c; C. Dickson 2008a, pers. comm.; Foulkes & Heard 2003):


Locality Land Tenure Year recorded No. of plants Reference
Gum Lagoon CP Conservation Park 1995 4  
Tilley Swamp CP Conservation Park 1991
2005
2006
2007
?
16
27
30
Davies (1992)
Dickson pers. comm. (2008a)
Dickson pers. comm. (2008a)
Dickson pers. comm. (2008a)
Desert Camp Conservation Reserve ?1989
2005–2007

Not found

Dickson pers. comm. (2008a)
Big Heath CP Conservation Park 1969
2004–2008

Some leaves or flowers seen

Dickson pers. comm. (2008a)
Bool Lagoon*
(Mary Seymour)
Game Reserve
(Conservation Park)
1959
2004–2008

Some leaves or flowers seen

Dickson pers. comm. (2008a)

*C. Dickson (2008a, pers. comm.) indicates that earlier collections of the Metallic Sun-orchid made at Bool Lagoon may possibly have been at Mary Seymour Conservation Park (which was unknown at the time), as it has a more suitable habitat, and leaves or flowers have been seen here recently.

In the Murray Darling Basin and South East Regions of South Australia there were ten populations of the Metallic Sun-orchid recorded in 2004 by Obst (2005, see table below). Of these ten populations, two are conserved in National Parks, one is conserved in a council reserve, two are conserved in Heritage Agreements and five are not conserved. Six new populations (that were previously unrecorded in government databases) were recorded during this survey (Obst 2005). Added populations and monitoring data recorded for the years 2005–2007, were from C. Dickson 2008, personal communication (populations 1, 3, 5 & 10) and C. Obst 2008a, personal communication (populations 2, 4, 6, 7, 7a, 7b, 7c, 8 & 11).


Population no. Locality Land Tenure Year surveyed - No. of plants Area of occupancy in 2004 (m²)
4 Meningie Council Reserve 2004 - 28
2005 - 103
2006 - 37
2007 - 99
100 000
7 Meningie Coorong NP 2004 - 19
2005 - 49
2006 - 48
2007 - 57
75
7a Meningie Coorong NP 2005 - 1
2006 - 1
 
7b Meningie Coorong NP 2005 - 1
2006 - 1
 
7c Meningie Coorong NP 2006 - 1  
11 Meningie [Council Reserve] Motorbike Club 2005 - 20
2006 - 9
 
1 Coonalpyn Heritage Agreement 2004 - 17
2005 - 8
2006 - 5
2007 - 6
902
6 Tailem Bend Private Property 2004 - 16
2005 - 51
2006 - 47
2007 - 67
1600
10 Salt Creek Messent CP 2004 - 4 8
8 Meningie Private Property 2004 - 4
not visited since 2004
100
5 Coonalpyn Heritage Agreement 2004 - 2
2005 - 5
2006 - 1
2007 - 0
5
2 Murray Bridge, Morphett Reserve Council Reserve 2004 - 1
2005 - 2
2006 - 0
1
3 Coonalpyn Private Property 2004 - 1
2005 - 5
2006 - 2
2007 - 5
1
9 Tailem Bend Private Property 2004 - 1 1



Also in the MDB Region, Davies (1992) recorded four plants from Mt Boothby Conservation Park 1n 1986 while forty plants were recorded from this Park in 1983 (R. Bates pers. comm. as cited in Davies 1992). A search in 2004 at Mt Boothby Conservation Park failed to locate any plants (C. Dickson 2008a, pers. comm.). A population near Tintinara township is presumed to be extinct. Two individuals were observed at a population in the Hundred of Freeling in 1986, an area being negotiated for a Heritage Agreement (Davies 1992). This last site could be one of the Coonalpyn localities in the above table. Another population of 22 individuals was recorded by Davies (1992) and protected by Heritage Agreement. R. Taplin (pers. comm. as cited in Davies 1992) recorded it from Wellington in 1990, from a pine reserve managed by the Woods and Forests Department.

In the Eyre Peninsula Region of South Australia there are 19 sub-populations, with an estimated 100 individuals. Approximately half of all known sub-populations, including the largest sub-population, are located on roadsides managed by the District Council of Lower Eyre Peninsula. Metallic Sun-orchid plants also grow within rail reserves maintained by the Australian Railroad Group Pty Ltd (ARG), on land managed by SA Water, and in ETSA Utilities powerline easements (Pobke 2007). This species also occurs within four Roadside Marker segments in the District Council of Lower Eyre Peninsula, and one under the management of Transport SA. There is one record of Metallic Sun-orchids within Wanilla Forest, which is managed by the Port Lincoln Aboriginal Community Council. Sub-populations occurring in reserves on Eyre Peninsula include one in Barwell Conservation Reserve and one in Wanilla Conservation Reserve (Pobke 2007). Davies (1992) recorded the species as having two collections from the Marble Range in 1979, with only one individual observed (and collected) from one of the sites.

Following a bushfire on the Lower Eyre Peninsula in January 2005, two priority sites for the Metallic Sun-orchid were assessed and the following population data collected (SA DEH 2006):

Locality Land Tenure No. of plants
Wanilla Triangle, Wanilla Council Reserve (Local Government) 10
Borlase Road, Wanilla Road Reserve (Local Government) 2

Victoria
In Victoria, the Metallic Sun-orchid is or has been known from the following populations: Blond Bay Wildlife and State Game Reserve, Bay of Islands Coastal Park, Port Campbell National Park, Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park, Lake Mundi Game Reserve, Coastal Park and Kiata Flora and Fauna Reserve in the Wimmera (Coates 2003a; SWIFFT 2007a). It has also been recorded from Billywing Road in the Grampians National Park but has not recently (to 2003) been seen there (Coates 2003a). It is also recorded from Mocombo Flora Reserve, near Casterton, and the Wilkin Flora and Fauna Reserve (SWIFFT 2007a). Cropper and colleagues (1989) and the South West Integrated Flora and Fauna Team (SWIFFT) (2007a) also recorded it from the Lower Glenelg Coastal Park, and in 1991 the population consisted of only a few individuals and was at risk of local extinction (Vic DCE 1991a). Large populations were recorded from the Weecurra Flora Reserve by Calder and colleagues (1989) in 1984.

Cropper and colleagues (1989) recorded the following population numbers during 1985–1986 for some Victorian populations:
  Port Campbell
National Park
Bay of Islands
Coastal Reserve
Weecurra
Flora Reserve
Flowering plants 26 46 37
Mature non-flowering plants 18 163 46
Immature plants 148 90 20
Total plants 192 299 66

At the Blond Bay Wildlife and State Game Reserve an annual count of the Metallic Sun-orchid has been carried out at three populations, by members of the Bairnsdale and District Field Naturalist's Club (E. Roe & J.T. Turner 2008, pers. comm.). An area of 190 ha was deliberately burnt at Site 1 in April 1997, with fencing to exclude grazing animals erected around part of this population in May 1997 (Roe 2004). A new fence was erected in September 2005, to include about five times the original fenced area (BDFNC 2005). The Site 1 population was burnt in the autumn of 1996, 1997, 2000 and 2004 (Roe 2004). In 2006, there were 17 Metallic Sun-orchids recorded at Site 3, and in 2007 there were 136 Metallic Sun-orchids recorded at Site 1, and three recorded at Site 2 (E. Roe & J.T. Turner 2008, pers. comm.).

The Metallic Sun-orchid was once widespread in coastal regions of south-eastern Australia. It is extinct at 70% of the sites at which it has been recorded (Cropper 1993).

Significant areas occur in the South West region of Victoria, at Port Campbell National Park, Bay of Islands Coastal Park, Mocombo Flora Reserve (near Casterton) and the Kiata Flora and Fauna Reserve in the Wimmera. These areas contain the majority of remaining sites in Victoria (SWIFFT 2007a).

Obst (2005) reported that all populations in the Murray Darling Basin of South Australia were considered important due to the small total numbers of the populations and numbers in each population.

In South Australia, the Metallic Sun-orchid has been recorded in the following reserve areas: Barwell Conservation Reserve, Big Heath Conservation Park, Bool Lagoon Game Reserve, Coorong National Park, Desert Camp Conservation Reserve, Gum Lagoon Conservation Park, Mary Seymour Conservation Park, Messent Conservation Park, Mt Boothby Conservation Park, Tilley Swamp Conservation Park and Wanilla Conservation Park.

In Victoria, the Metallic Sun-orchid has been recorded from the Bay of Islands Coastal Park, Blond Bay Wildlife and State Game Reserve, Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park, Kiata Flora Reserve, Lake Mundi Game Reserve, Lower Glenelg Coastal Park, Mocombo Flora Reserve, Port Campbell National Park, Weecurra Flora Reserve, Wilkin Flora and Fauna Reserve, and also from the Grampians National Park, but has not recently been seen there (Coates et al. 2002; SWIFFT 2007a).

The Metallic Sun-orchid grows primarily in mesic coastal heathlands, grasslands and woodlands, but is also found in drier inland heathlands, open forests and woodlands. Substrates may be moist or dry sandy loams or loamy sands. Critical habitat has not been determined but the species is likely to require open conditions, which may be created by soil disturbance or fire, for recruitment (Coates 2003a).

The Metallic Sun-orchid is well adapted to temperate subhumid environments where there may be a period of water stress in the summer. Winters are usually cool and wet. The present distribution is restricted to subhumid, mesothermal climates (Calder et al. 1989).

The topography is undulating plains, crests of hills, gentle slopes of low broad ridges and at the bottom of broad, shallow swales (Obst 2005). It grows in sandy soils over a clay subsoil, with these soils having a tendency to become waterlogged in winter and spring, and drying out in summer and autumn (Calder et al. 1989).

The Metallic Sun-orchid favours open heathland communities close to the coast. It is found, or has been found, in a number of different plant associations, some of which have reached a stable mature community. Within these communities, the orchid seems to favour the more open sites caused by disturbance of the vegetation, such as death of mature plants, animal foraging, land movement or fire (Calder et al. 1989).

Locally it is commonly associated on bare ground between mature vegetation, with weedy species such as Hypochoeris radicata, Grass Wood-sorrel (Oxalis perennans), Common Centaury (Centaurium erythraea) and grasses present (Calder et al. 1989).

South Australia
In the Murray Darling Basin Region of South Australia, Obst (2005) recorded the following vegetation associations:

Vegetation community Mid-storey species Understorey species
Eucalyptus leucoxylon ssp. stephaniae +/- Eucalyptus diversifolia open
woodland
Acacia pycnantha, Baeckea behrii, Banksia marginata, Banksia ornata, Bursaria spinosa, Correa reflexa, Dodonaea viscosa ssp. angustissima, Leptospermum myrsinoides, Xanthorrhoea caespitosa Austrostipa sp., Astroloma conostephioides, Carpobrotus rossii, Dampiera rosmarinifolia, Hibbertia exutiacies, Isopogon ceratophyllus, Kunzea pomifera, Lepidosperma carphoides, Lepidosperma viscidum, Microseris lanceolata
Callitris preissii/Allocasuarina verticillata woodland Acacia ligulata, Bursaria spinosa, Dodonaea viscosa ssp. angustissima Austrostipa sp., Dampiera dysantha, Danthonia sp., Kunzea pomifera, Lepidosperma carphoides, Lomandra micrantha
Eucalyptus diversifolia +/- Allocasuarina verticillata +/- Acacia pycnantha low
woodland
Banksia marginata, Bursaria spinosa, Lasiopetalum behrii, Melaleuca lanceolata, Senna artemisioides ssp. petiolaris, Xanthorrhoea caespitosa Astroloma conostephioides, Austrostipa sp., Boronia coerulescens ssp. coerulescens, Carpobrotus rossii, Clematis microphylla, Dianella revoluta var. revoluta, Hakea rostrata, Kunzea pomifera, Lepidosperma carphoides, Lepidosperma viscidum, Microseris lanceolata, Thomasia petalocalyx

In the South East Region of South Australia, vegetation associations for the Metallic Sun-orchid are (Davies 1992, 1995b; Obst 2005):
  • Eucalyptus leucoxylon low open woodland
  • Eucalyptus diversifolia +/- E. incrassata +/- E. leptophylla tall shrubland
  • Eucalyptus leptophylla sparse shrubland
  • Eucalyptus camaldulensis woodland
  • Hakea rugosa/Allocasuarina pusilla/Melaleuca brevifolia open heath
  • Leptospermum continentale/Allocasuarina muelleriana/Hakea sp./Dillwynia sericea/Calytrix tetragona heathland
  • Sedgeland.

    The shrub or under-storey layer can include Coastal Umbrella Bush (Acacia cupularis), Slender Velvet-bush (Lasiopetalum baueri), Xanthorrhoea caespitosa, Darwinia micropetala, and Leucopogon parviflorus.

    For the Eyre Peninsula Region of South Australia, Pobke (2007) recorded the following vegetation associations:


    Primary species Secondary species Understorey species
    Drooping Sheoak (Allocasuarina verticillata) low woodland +/- Yacca (Xanthorrhoea semiplana) shrubs Kangaroo Grass (Themeda triandra), Hill Raspwort (Gonocarpus elatus), Hard Mat-rush (Lomandra multiflora ssp. dura), Crested Spear-grass (Austrostipa blackii) tussock grasses
    Drooping Sheoak (Allocasuarina verticillata) low woodland +/-Sticky Hop-bush (Dodonaea viscosa ssp. spatulata) tall shrubs Bearded Oat (*Avena barbata), Annual Rock-fern (Cheilanthes austrotenuifolia), +/- Sticky Sword-sedge (Lepidosperma viscidum), +/- Broad-leaf Raspwort (Gonocarpus mezianus) low forbs
    Sugar Gum (Eucalyptus cladocalyx) mid woodland +/- Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha) over Rock Wattle (Acacia rupicola), +/- Yacca (Xanthorrhoea semiplana), +/-Broombush (Melaleuca uncinata) mid shrubs Peach Heath (Lissanthe strigosa ssp. subulata), Small-flower Wallaby-grass (Austrodanthonia setacea) low shrubs over Broadleaf Raspwort (Gonocarpus mezianus), and Coarse Lagenifera (Lagenophora huegelii)
    Coast Ridge-fruited Mallee (Eucalyptus angulosa), Coastal White Mallee (E. diversifolia ssp. diversifolia) mid mallee woodland Yacca (Xanthorrhoea semiplana), Broombush (Melaleuca uncinata), +/Dryland Tea-tree (M. lanceolata) tall shrubs +/- Guinea-flower (Hibbertia sp. glabriuscula (DJ Whibley 9012)) low shrubs
    Coastal White Mallee (Eucalyptus diversifolia ssp. diversifolia) mid mallee woodland +/- Dryland Tea-tree (Melaleuca lanceolata), +/- Broombush (Melaleuca uncinata) tall shrubs Prickly Ground-berry (Acrotriche patula), +/- Coast Velvet-bush (Lasiopetalum discolor) low shrubs
    Broombush (Melaleuca uncinata) tall open shrubland Silver Broombush (Babingtonia behrii), +/- Cup Fringe-myrtle (Calytrix involucrata) low shrubs +/- Spinifex (Triodia irritans), +/Guinea-flower (Hibbertia sp. glabriuscula (DJ Whibley 9012))

    Victoria
    In Victoria, vegetation associations include open areas between closed-scrub, grasslands and sedgelands, woodland, and scrubby coastal heath (Obst 2005).

    Calder and colleagues (1989) describes in detail the particular vegetation characteristics of the four main populations of the Metallic Sun-orchid in Victoria. Coastal heathland at Port Campbell Nationa Park is a typically shrubby coastal heath dominated by Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium), Hairy Guinea-flower (Hibbertia aspera), Leucopogon parviflorus, Swamp Weed (Selliera radicans) and Fluke Bogrush (Schoenus apogon), none of which reaches more than 1 m in height (Calder et al. 1989).

    Weecurra Flora Reserve is characterised by a shrubby canopy of Leptospermum juniperinum, up to 3 m, with Banksia marginata, Xanthorrhoea minor and occasional emergent Eucalyptus ovata. Hypolaena fastigiata, Lepidosperma congestum and grasses such as Aira sp., Danthonia pilosa and D. setacea are common as a ground cover with the widespread introduced weed Hypochoeris radicata (Calder et al. 1989).

    The coastal community at the Bay of Islands Conservation Reserve has a different appearance to Port Campbell National Park, despite its similar distance from the open sea. Port Campbell has a southerly aspect facing the sea, whilst Bay of Islands faces north to north-west. Herbaceous plants are common with the grasses Kangaroo Grass (Themeda triandra) and Poa poiformis being dominant (Calder et al. 1989).

    Kiata Flora Reserve has a tall canopy (less than 5 m) of acacias with a shrubby ground cover of Astroloma conostephioides. Bare ground (with a cover of litter and lichens) is a characteristic feature in this dry shrubland, and differs from the other sites described above (Calder et al. 1989).

    At the Blond Bay Wildlife and State Game Reserve the vegetation is intact and largely indigenous. At Site 1 it is grassland dominated by Lomandra longifolia, Imperta cylindrica, Pteridium esculentum and Entolasia marginata (DCNR 1993 as cited in Roe 2004). The population is ringed by Melaleuca ericifolia thickets to the north and east, and Banksia serrata woodland to the south. Other associated species with the orchid are Leptocarpus brownii and Hypochaeris radicata (Roe 2004).

    The Metallic Sun-orchid is not part of any threatened ecological communities.

    It is associated with other listed threatened flora including Ptilotus beckerianus, Silver Daisy-bush (Olearia pannosa subsp. pannosa), Arachnorchis brumalis (Pobke 2007), Spiral sun-orchid (Thelymitra matthewsii) and Large-fruit Fireweed (Senecio macrocarpus) (Pearce & Hollow 2002).

  • Victorian populations studied by Cropper and colleagues (1989) could not be divided into age cohorts on the basis of vegetative characters, although only the larger plants produced flowers. Detailed monitoring suggests that mature plants only live for about 10 years before dying (Cropper 1993).


    The Metallic Sun-orchid is deciduous, dying back to below-ground tubers in summer. If conditions are right, the orchid will re-emerge each year signalled by the growth of a new leaf. Leaves can be seen as early as April and continue to grow throughout winter. Flowering occurs from August through to November, and fruits mature from December to January (Pobke 2007). Observations on Eyre Peninsula populations during drought conditions in 2006, following a 2005 bushfire, produced a quick flowering period, with simultaneous podding, flowering and seed set on different plants within the same sub-populations. Usually orchids within a sub-population progress through budding and flowering together at a similar rate. During 2007, intense northerly winds in late spring and an unseasonally early decrease in soil moisture resulted in an early finishing season of September (Pobke 2007).

    Flower opening appears to be a complex process involving responses to sunlight, temperature and humidity. In general, flowers open when the relative humidity is lower than 52%, air temperature is above 15 °C, and there are clear skies (Cropper et al. 1989). Flowers remain for up to four weeks but wither a week after pollination. Plants can produce flowers from their second year of growth onwards for up to four consecutive years, but no more. Individual plants can remain dormant for up to two years then grow to produce flowers, but if dormant for four years or more, plants generally do not reappear (Calder et al. 1989).

    Metallic Sun-orchid flowers are faintly scented and are pollinated by insects. Three pollinator species, bee species (Nomia and Lasioglassum) and Blow Fly (Calliphora stygia), have been recorded visiting the flowers (Cropper & Calder 1990). Pollinators are thought to visit the species as they mimic the main food sources of pollinators (Bates 1984a). The flowers contain highly reflective polychromatic epidermal cells, which attract pollinators, but there is no obvious food reward for visiting insects. After successful pollination, the ovary of the flower swells and produces microscopic seeds within a seed capsule (Pobke 2007). The Metallic Sun-orchid reproduces from seed dispersed to open ground where the vegetation community has been disturbed (Calder et al. 1989), or annual replacement by root tuberoids (Cropper et al. 1989). The seeds tend to be shortlived (Calder et al. 1989).

    The Metallic Sun-orchid is also found in association with a mycorrhizal fungus, Tulasnella asymmetrica, that may assimilate nutrients for the orchid (Cropper et al. 1989; SWIFFT 2007a). The fungus is required to initiate successful seed germination (Calder et al. 1989) and seeds cannot survive more than two weeks without associating with the fungus (Cropper 1993). If this association occurs, a protocorm develops which can survive for several years, until eventually a single leaf emerges out of the ground as a seedling (Cropper 1993).

    This species is a post-disturbance coloniser, utilising early successional stages after disturbance events such as human activities, fire, animal activities such as scratching of the soil, or associated vegetation disturbance. In areas where not enough disturbance occurs, the vegetation closes up and the orchid is shaded out, causing it to become dormant. Adult plants can reappear after some form of disturbance. It is dependant on fire for flowering, with percentage seed set increasing, and recruitment greatly improved several years after a fire event (Cropper 1993). Roe (2004) found that at monitored populations in the Blond Bay Wildlife and State Game Reserve, the total number of orchids always increased after fire, and that the number of flowering orchids continued to increase for two flowering seasons following autumn fires in 1997 and 2000. The numbers started to decline in the third flowering season or two years after fire (Roe 2004).

    The Thelymitra are unique in the terrestrial orchids as they lack the distinctive labellum of the remainder of the Orchid family. All the floral parts are similar in shape and colour within the genus. The Metallic Sun-orchid is distinctive amongst other Thelymitra species due to its large stature, the metallic colours of the petals, and the five lobes on the column, consisting of two white brush-like appendages projecting forwards and three small, yellow lobes towards the back (Cropper 1993).

    The best time to conduct surveys is when the plant is likely to be flowering, between August through to November (Pobke 2007), and especially for several years after a fire disturbance event, before the associated vegetation recovers and shades out the orchid (Cropper 1993). The Metallic Sun-orchid can remain dormant as a tuber in the soil for up to nine years (Cropper 1993), with flowering plants frequently only occurring after fires. Therefore, plants are easily overlooked, especially if not flowering (Davies 1995b).

    Threats to the Metallic Sun-orchid include weed invasion, unsuitable fire regime, site disturbance, changes to soil and water regimes, reduced recruitment, grazing, habitat fragmentation, illegal collecting and herbicide spraying (Cropper 1993; Davies 2000c; Pobke 2007; SA DEH 2006; SWIFFT 2007a).

    Weed invasion
    Disturbance to soil and vegetation by mechanical means, such as grading or digging, or clearing of vegetation by burning, often results in weed invasion, particularly where there is already a weed source in the vicinity (Davies 2000c; SWIFFT 2007a). In coastal populations the spread of highly invasive weeds such as Bridal Creeper (Asparagus asparagoides), Perennial Veldt Grass (Ehrharta calycina), Capeweed (Arctotheca calendula), Gazania (Gazania linearis) and woody weeds such as Acacia longifolia are competing with this species at some sites. Invasion by coastal shrubs may occur in the absence of fire or grazing (Coates 2003a; Obst 2005; SWIFFT 2007a). Inland populations near agricultural land are invaded by Perennial Veldt Grass, African Daisy (Senecio pterophorus) and Bearded Oat (Avena barbata). At Borlase Road, Wanilla, on the Eyre Peninsula, the main weed threats observed were Aleppo Pine (Pinus halapensis) and Bridal Creeper. Annual grasses including Vulpia sp., Pentaschistus airoides and Avena sp. are also present. Freesia has also been recorded at the site (SA DEH 2006). In Coorong National Park and Gum Lagoon Conservation Park, populations of the Metallic Sun-orchid are threatened by both Bridal Creeper and Perennial Veldt Grass, which have the potential to completely out-compete it in the general area (Davies 1995b, 2000c).

    Unsuitable fire regime
    The abundance of the Metallic Sun-orchid at several sites in Victoria is related to the regularity of disturbance events. The species is an early successional post-disturbance coloniser, with suitable disturbance events including animal scratching, death of a plant, human activities or fire (Cropper 1993). Burning during the dormant phase in summer/autumn has been found to break dormancy and result in an increase in flower production. Fire also reduces competition from shrubs and grasses whilst providing suitable open sites for seedling establishment. Following a fire, there is a dramatic increase in recruitment for several years. A fast, hot burn is also more beneficial for this species compared with a slow smouldering burn as a prolonged burn is more likely to damage the root tuberoid which is located just below the soil surface (Cropper 1993).

    It has been suggested that burn regimes for sub-populations within Victoria occur once every 5–10 years in heathland, and once every 3–4 years in grasslands. Late summer burning results in increased flowering and increased long-term orchid numbers. A lack of summer-autumn fires has contributed to a decline in Metallic Sun-orchid recruitment (Pobke 2007). Whilst the Metallic Sun-orchid responds to burning, it is desirable not to burn vegetation where it abuts cleared land, as many weeds, in particular Veldt Grass, readily colonise burnt vegetation (Davies 1997).

    Site disturbance
    Populations adjacent to roadsides are at risk from patrol road grading and the creation and maintenance of drainage diversions (SA DEH 2006). Some populations, such as at Port Campbell National Park, are close to roads and occupy sites that have been subject to development proposals (Coates et al. 2002). Other disturbances include native animal activities such as echidna scratchings, and domestic stock grazing (Foulkes & Heard 2003). A population found in Messent Conservation Park in 1977 was threatened by fire break construction as it occurred near the boundary of the reserve. On Eyre Peninsula, a population in Wanilla Forest Reserve was potentially under threat from forestry activities as it occurred in the vicinity of pine plantations (R. Bates pers. comm. as cited in Davies 1992). In the Murray Darling Basin Region of South Australia, there was a proposed composting facility in the Monarto area, with associated road widening along Ferries-McDonald Road (Obst 1995). As this species occurs in the Conservation Park along this road, the road widening and the composting facility both have a potential significant impact (Obst 1995).

    Lack of appropriate disturbance
    Studies on the ecology of the Metallic Sun-orchid in Victoria suggest that the species may require disturbance for seedling recruitment and significant flowering, sufficient to set suitable quantities of seed, and this only occurs after fire. The species does not occur in established vegetation with a closed canopy of trees or shrubs, and requires open sites for flowering and seedling recruitment (Calder et al. 1989). Current management protocols of actively reducing the frequency and intensities of fire at Victorian coastal populations has lead to climax communities of low species diversity (Calder et al. 1989; Cropper et al. 1989). As a large number of heathland species depend on fire to stimulate flowering, including the Metallic Sun-orchid, reducing fire frequency has also contributed to a depauperate flowering community. Along with a closed canopy vegetation, this also results in pollinators not being attracted to these areas and so the orchids are not pollinated, with a lack of fruit set being recorded (Cropper & Calder 1990). Flowering has also rarely been observed in the Lower Eyre Peninsula populations with a lack of appropriate disturbance, including fire, being one factor affecting flowering (SA DEH 2006).

    Changes to soil and water regimes
    This may result from road or track works or drainage of areas which can impact on the surface or sub-surface movement of water (SWIFFT 2007a). Changes include alterations to ground water regimes through rising saline groundwater (Croft et al. 1999), or altering the natural cycle of winter waterlogging and summer drying, which is a habitat requirement necessary to support the Metallic Sun-orchid (Calder et al. 1989; Foulkes & Heard 2003; SWIFFT 2007a).

    In the Messent Conservation Park, construction of a drainage channel has been proposed across the south-eastern section of the park, to benefit the park sedgeland ecosystems (Cutten & Squire 2002; Davies 1995b). This could result in periodic flooding of low lying areas of the park. Although the Metallic Sun-orchid is known elsewhere in areas which are seasonally inundated (Davies 1992), it is unlikely that it can survive long periods of inundation. The species could also be threatened if the water became contaminated by salty water from the drain (Davies 1995b).

    At Gum Lagoon Conservation Park, the construction of minor drains in or adjacent to the park are unlikely to have a significant effect on the Metallic Sun-orchid as it is stimulated by disturbance. If the drains change the water regime of winter waterlogging and summer dry, then this could have a serious impact on this species, and therefore the construction of drains through Metallic Sun-orchid habitat should be avoided (Davies 2000c).

    Reduced recruitment
    The Metallic Sun-orchid is pollinated by bees of the genus Nomia. The lack of seed set in Victorian populations has been linked to the absence of pollinators. The abundance of pollinators may have declined due to a reduction in the availability of flowering food plants which respond to fire (Cropper & Calder 1990). Feral or managed honeybees may also displace populations of Nomia and affect orchid pollination and hence seed production. Honeybees may be less effective in pollinating flowers, they may alter the behaviour of native bees thereby altering patterns of pollen dispersal, or remove pollen from flowers, reducing the quantities of pollen that are transferred (Paton 1996; SA DEH 2006). Lack of recruitment is listed as a high risk current threat to all known populations in the South Australian Murray Darling Basin Region (Obst 2005).

    Grazing
    Grazing has been identified as a major problem at times as it can severely impact on the production of seed for future recruitment of the orchid. Grazing by stock or native herbivores such as kangaroos and wallabies can cause severe browsing damage, as it seems to be a highly palatable species (Calder et al. 1989). The European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) is also recognised as a problem in browsing flower stems, with cases where the entire flowering crop of a local population has been wiped out due to rabbits (Cropper et al. 1989). At the Gum Lagoon Conservation Park, the Metallic Sun-orchid is particularly prone to browsing by rabbits, as the shallow drain on which the population occurs provides ready access (Davies 2000c). Grazing by both native and introduced animals, particularly rabbits, may prevent flowering and exhaust tubers (Croft et al. 1999). Invertebrates such as Chrysomelid Beetle larvae and Tortricid Moth larvae have been observed to graze on leaf material leading to the loss of leaf. A large proportion of the Weecurra Flora Reserve was grazed by both the moth larvae and kangaroos in 1985 (Cropper et al. 1989).

    Past threats to the populations found in and around Wanilla on the Eyre Peninsula include grazing by sheep entering the park through broken fencing (Davies 1992).

    Deer and hares are known to be causing grazing damage to several populations in South Australia, near Murray Bridge and Tailem Bend (Obst 2005). At the Blond Bay Wildlife and State Game Reserve, near Bairnsdale, fencing has been erected around the Metallic Sun-orchid population to prevent grazing by wallabies, kangaroos, rabbits and deer (BDFNC 2005).

    Habitat fragmentation
    Many known populations of the Metallic Sun-orchid are small and occur in highly fragmented vegetation on road and rail reserves. These fragmented populations may have low genetic variability and genetic flow because of their small size and isolation. Low genetic variability may reduce the resilience of the species to environmental changes, pests or diseases (Pobke 2007).

    Illegal collecting
    Collecting results in the loss of plants which can impact on recruitment potential. It also assists the spread of invasive weeds into areas which can limit the viability of local populations (SWIFFT 2007a).

    Herbicide spraying
    Populations occurring near agricultural land are potentially threatened by exposure to fertiliser and chemical drift. At the Wanilla Triangle site on the Lower Eyre Peninsula, the population occurs in a very small reserve with a high edge:core ratio, being bound on two sides by agricultural land. Threats include exposure to fertiliser and chemical drift and agricultural weed invasion (SA DEH 2006).

    South Australia
    In South Australia the following recovery actions are occurring, for each region:

    A recovery program has been written for the South East region by the Threatened Species Unit, South Australia Department for Environment and Heritage. The aim is to manage the immediate threats by doing weed control around existing populations in the short term, and to carry out ongoing monitoring of populations with regard to changes in fire and hydrology. The long term aims are to restore and maintain the populations and habitat by identifying and surveying potential habitat, monitoring growth and survival, and maintaining seed in long term storage (SA DEH 2007). On-going monitoring is occurring at most populations in South Australia, including collection of demographic data (C. Dickson 2008a, pers. comm.; C. Obst 2008, pers. comm.).

    In the Murray Darling Basin region the following recovery actions are recommended (Obst 2005):

  • Protect habitat and populations through management of threats and encouraging natural regeneration.
  • Monitor populations to identify trends (such as in population numbers, life history stages, and impacts of threat abatement actions).
  • Collect and storing seed material.
  • Conduct research into aspects of the species' ecology and biology.
  • Acquire accurate information on distribution, abundance, threats and critical and potential habitat of known populations.

    Populations on the Eyre Peninsula are subject to the following management objectives and actions (Pobke 2007):
    • Obtain baseline information, including critical and potential habitat, for the Metallic Sun-orchid.
    • Manage immediate threats and improve threatened flora critical habitat.
    • Conduct research critical to management by addressing knowledge deficiencies in threatened flora biology and ecology (including threat identification).
    • Monitor the populations and evaluate the success of recovery actions.

    In Victoria the following recovery actions are in place (Coates 2003a; Coates et al. 2002) and management has been undertaken by Parks Victoria and the Department of Sustainability and Environment, Victoria:

    • Investigate and encourage research into population biology, such as the life history, pollination levels and causes of pollinator limitation.
    • Determine habitat requirements of key populations by conducting surveys.
    • Manage risks to populations by identifying and implementing strategies to control threats, and identify disturbance regimes that promote regeneration and recruitment of the Metallic Sun-orchid.
    • Measure population trends and responses against recovery actions and adjust recovery actions and/or threat management as appropriate.
    • Provide information and advice to landholders and other authorities with regard to the location and management of Metallic Sun-orchid sites. Incorporate information on the location and management of the species into local planning schemes.
    • Implement an education and communication strategy and involve community groups in recovery actions.

    At the Blond Bay Wildlife and State Game Reserve some of the populations have been monitored since 1995, and active management is occurring (Roe 2004). Both the Bairnsdale and District Field Naturalist's Club and Parks Victoria undertake the management recommendations which include:

    • Increase the fenced area at Site 1 to incorporate the entire known population.
    • Allow grazing animals in at specific times, following seed set in summer and prior to leaf emergence in March.
    • Establish a transect within the fenced area and mark individuals at Sites 2 and 3.
    • Implement a three year burning regime in current and potential Metallic Sun-orchid habitat in the reserve, and search potential habitat during spring (Roe 2004).

    At Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park, the Metallic Sun-orchid is one of six significant plant species for which management strategies have been prepared by Parks Victoria (1998c). These strategies include the preparation and implementation of an ecological burning program for the Parks to maintain the vigour and diversity of the Parks' flora and fauna. Coates and colleagues (2002) report that regular ecological burning has been undertaken at Golden Beach (Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park).

    Parks Victoria (1998a) also prepared Management Plans for Port Campbell National Park and Bay of Islands Coastal Park, with the following management strategies for this species:

    • Monitor threatened plant populations and significant sites.
    • Manage and monitor Metallic Sun-orchid with an adaptive approach, using fire or slashing of vegetation, combined with soil disturbance.
    • Monitor populations of plants susceptible to collecting, and take necessary steps to prevent collecting.
    • Encourage research on significant plant species and communities.
    • Ensure that the potential impacts on flora of any future developments in the Parks are fully assessed in the planning phase, and are avoided or minimised by appropriate siting and design. Undertake necessary surveys at appropriate times of the year to ensure that seasonal species (e.g. orchids) are identified.

    In these Management Plans, Special Protection Areas have been determined to provide additional protection for particularly significant and sensitive values, which for the Metallic Sun-orchid aims to prevent illegal collecting by orchid fanciers. These Special Protection Areas are at Flaxmans Hill (Bay of Islands Coastal Park) and an area to the east of Port Campbell between the coast and the East - West Fireline Track (Parks Victoria 1998a). SWIFFT (2007a) indicate that ecological burns targeting this species have been conducted in Port Campbell National Park during 2004 and 2005.

    At the Blond Bay Wildlife and State Game Reserve, near Bairnsdale, the area has been fenced to prevent browsing of the Metallic Sun-orchid by wallabies, kangaroos, rabbits and deer. The number of plants surviving and flowering had increased within the fenced area (BDFNC 2005).
    Coates and colleagues (2002) report that population sites and sizes have been included on the VrotPop Victorian threatened flora database. An Action Statement was prepared in 2003 (Coates 2003a).

  • Several studies were undertaken around the same time period on populations in Victoria, on the species' morphology, biology and conservation (Cropper et al. 1989), floral biology (Cropper & Calder 1990) and ecology (Calder et. al. 1989), to gain knowledge to help address management issues for this species.

    There are several recovery plans relevant to this species. These include the National Recovery Plan for Twenty-five Threatened Orchids of Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales 2003–2007 (Coates et al. 2002), the South Australian Murray Darling Basin Threatened Flora Recovery Plan (Obst 2005) and the Draft recovery plan for 23 threatened flora taxa on Eyre Peninsula, South Australia 2007–2012 (Pobke 2007).

    A draft Fire Management Plan has been prepared for the Reserves of the Southern Eyre Peninsula, which includes the Wanilla Conservation Reserve (as Wanilla Conservation Park), in which the Metallic Sun-orchid occurs (SA DEH 2008).

    A Management Plan for the Conservation Parks of Lower Eyre Peninsula was prepared by the South Australia Department for Environment and Heritage (2007). The main objective was to conserve native vegetation and reduce threats, particularly to vegetation communities and plant species of conservation significance. One strategy is to encourage ongoing monitoring of threatened plant species, particularly in parks affected by the January 2005 bushfire, of which Wanilla Conservation Park was one (SA DEH 2007).

    At Tilley Swamp Conservation Park the following management actions were put in place by the South Australian Department for Environment and Heritage (2000), specific to the Metallic Sun-orchid:

    • Encourage flora surveys and research.
    • Establish monitoring programs for the Metallic Sun-orchid.
    • Review any research on the Metallic Sun-orchid to determine management requirements, particularly for fire, and implement them.
    • Maintain effective boundary fencing to exclude stock.

    A Conservation Reserves Management Strategy was published by Parks Victoria (2003a) which covers the 2800 plus conservation reserves in Victoria. As it is costly to prepare Management Plans for all reserves, a strategic basis for managing reserves was agreed instead of developing Management Plans for all reserves. The following reserves in which the Metallic Sun-orchid occurs, fall under this broad management strategy: Blond Bay Wildlife and State Game Reserve, Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park, Kiata Flora Reserve, Lake Mundi Game Reserve and Wilkin Flora and Fauna Reserve (Parks Victoria 2003a).

    The Victorian Department of Conservation and Environment (1991) published the Lower Glenelg National Park Management Plan. The management actions suggested for the Metallic Sun-orchid include: conduct annual surveys to monitor the population; and manage vegetation at known sites by rotational slashing or prescribed burning late February to March, at 6–7 year intervals (Vic DCE 1991a).

    The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

    Threat Class Threatening Species References
    Agriculture and Aquaculture:Agriculture and Aquaculture:Land clearing, habitat fragmentation and/or habitat degradation Thelymitra epipactoides in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006vs) [Internet].
    Agriculture and Aquaculture:Livestock Farming and Grazing:Grazing pressures and associated habitat changes Thelymitra epipactoides in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006vs) [Internet].
    Biological Resource Use:Gathering Terrestrial Plants:Illegal collection Thelymitra epipactoides in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006vs) [Internet].
    Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Recreational Activities:Disturbance, especially from human recreational activities and development The Orchids of Victoria (Backhouse, G.N. & J.A. Jeanes, 1995) [Book].
    Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Recreational Activities:Habitat disturbance from recreational vehicle use Thelymitra epipactoides in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006vs) [Internet].
    Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Oryctolagus cuniculus (Rabbit, European Rabbit) The Orchids of Victoria (Backhouse, G.N. & J.A. Jeanes, 1995) [Book].
    Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation by weeds Thelymitra epipactoides in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006vs) [Internet].
    Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Vegetation and habitat loss caused by dieback Phytophthora cinnamomi Threat abatement plan for disease in natural ecosystems caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2009w) [Threat Abatement Plan].
    Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Predation, competition, habitat degradation and/or spread of pathogens by introduced species National Recovery Plan for Twenty-five Threatened Orchid taxa of Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales 2003-2007 (Coates, F., J. Jeanes & A. Pritchard, 2002) [Recovery Plan].
    Natural System Modifications:Dams and Water Management/Use:Alteration of hydrological regimes and water quality The Orchids of Victoria (Backhouse, G.N. & J.A. Jeanes, 1995) [Book].
    Thelymitra epipactoides in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006vs) [Internet].
    Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate and/or changed fire regimes (frequency, timing, intensity) Thelymitra epipactoides in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006vs) [Internet].
    Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate prescribed regimes and/or vegetation management to control fire regimes The Orchids of Victoria (Backhouse, G.N. & J.A. Jeanes, 1995) [Book].
    Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Poor recruitment (regeneration) and declining population numbers Thelymitra epipactoides in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006vs) [Internet].

    Bairnsdale and District Field Naturalist's Club Inc. (BDFNC) (2005). Nature notes. Metallic Sun-orchid count - 2 October 2005. [Online]. Available from: http://www.eastgippsland.com/bdfnc/nature_notes/metallicsun.htm.

    Bates, R.J. (1984a). Australia's colourful sun-orchids: Thelymitra. Australian Orchid Review. 49(2):109-112.

    Calder, D.M., S.C. Cropper & D. Tonkinson (1989). The Ecology of Thelymitra epipactoides F. Muell. (Orchidaceae) in Victoria, Australia, and the Implications for Management of the Species. Australian Journal of Botany. 37:19-32.

    Coates, F. (2003a). Action Statement No. 156, Metallic Sun-orchid, Thelymitra epipacroides. [Online]. Victoria: Department of Sustainability and Environment. Available from: http://www.dse.vic.gov.au/plants-and-animals/flora-and-fauna-guarantee-act-action-statements-index-of-approved-action-statements.

    Coates, F., J. Jeanes & A. Pritchard (2002). National Recovery Plan for Twenty-five Threatened Orchid taxa of Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales 2003-2007. [Online]. Melbourne: Department of Sustainability and Environment. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/recovery/25-orchids/index.html.

    Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria (CHAH) (2008a). Australia's Virtual Herbarium. [Online]. Canberra: Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research. Available from: http://avh.rbg.vic.gov.au/avh/.

    Croft, T., S. Carruthers., H. Possingham & B. Inns (1999). Biodiversity Plan for the South East of South Australia. Adelaide: Department of Environment, Heritage and Aboriginal Affairs.

    Cropper, S.C. (1993). Management of Endangered Plants. East Melbourne, Victoria: CSIRO.

    Cropper, S.C. & D.M. Calder (1990). The floral biology of Thelymitra epipactoides (Orchidaceae), and the implications of pollination by deceit on the survival of this rare orchid. Plant Systematics and Evolution. 170:11-27.

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    Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Thelymitra epipactoides in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Wed, 3 Sep 2014 06:14:12 +1000.