Southern Swamp Orchid
The endangered southern swamp orchid (Phaius australis) has flower stems up to 2 metres tall and large broad leaves with a pleated appearance. Its large, showy flowers, up to 20 per stem, have four petals that are white on the outer perimeter and brown with white or yellow veins in the interior.
Habitat – Where can we find the Southern swamp orchid?
The southern swamp orchid grows in Queensland and north-eastern NSW as far south as Coffs Harbour. Historically, it extended farther south, to Port Macquarie. It occurs in swampy grassland or swampy forest, including rainforest, eucalypt or paperbark forest, mostly in coastal areas.
Threats to the southern swamp orchid
The southern swamp orchid’s showy appearance means this orchid is highly sought for horticulture or cut flowers so it has fallen victim to illegal collection. Land clearing and fragmentation of its habitat for development, agriculture and road works; frequent burning; grazing and trampling by domestic stock and feral pigs are additional threats. The drainage of swamps, pollution from nutrient run-off, and introduced weeds pose other dangers to this plant.
Solutions – What can be done?
Protecting the southern swamp orchid’s habitat from land clearing, draining or development, frequent fire and pollution are important recovery measures. Fencing off swampy areas to exclude stock and controlling feral pigs and weeds are other important strategies.
The Nature Conservation Trust’s work in private land conservation is helping to protect the habitat of the southern swamp orchid.