Metallic sun orchid

Metallic sun orchids grow from a single subterranean tuberous root. These are being planted at Dutson Downs.
Growing from a subterranean tuberous root, these metallic sun orchids are being planted as part of our conservation efforts at Dutson Downs.

The metallic sun orchid (thelymitra epipactoides) is found in southern Victoria and southeastern South Australia. Once widespread, the remaining populations are now isolated and mainly confined to conservations areas and is listed as "endangered" under the Victorian Government Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988.

It's the largest of the sun-orchid family and  characterised by a single, erect, sheathing leaf roughly 25cm long and a flower stem which can reach up to 50cm tall and have between 5-20 flowers.

The colour varies from brown, copper, pink, blue and green and often has a metallic appearance. 

The main threats to the species are grazing, weed invasion, fire and loss of habitat. We have a conservation project at Dutson Downs to help ensure the survival of the nationally endangered plant species. This project is in a securely fenced area to prevent grazing by rabbits, hares and other small mammals during the growth season of the orchids.

Shannon, our Environment & Sustainability Lead, talks about the uniquely challenging task of orchid conservation.