Chain Ribbon Root Orchid (Taeniophyllum muelleri). Above right and middle images were taken by Rob and Carla on their property. Image left shows the fruit and was taken by Glenn Leiper, a co-author of Mangroves to Mountains.
We joined Land for Wildlife in 2012 after Rob had already owned the property for multiple years. It wasn’t until the house was built in 2008 and we were able to live there permanently that we had the opportunity to really start concentrating on ‘bringing back the bush’, which has been a lifelong passion of Rob’s. A friend told us about the Land for Wildlife scheme in 2011 and we became members soon after in February 2012, at that time not realising the amazing benefits we would experience, in a sense of both giving and receiving.
We have undertaken a Sunshine Coast Council Landholder Environment Grant project (2012) with 300 tubestock plantings and a Land for Wildlife Incentive project (2013) with 150 tubestock plantings. We are also systematically removing all Slash Pines (Pinus elliottii) and other weed species from the property. Throughout these two projects our knowledge and experience has expanded and we marvel at what we have learnt and how much we didn’t know in the beginning!
Late last year was the first time we had noticed the Chain Ribbon Root Orchid on the property. It is a single orchid on the trunk of a sapling cheese tree about three metres from the edge of the dam, and it’s only about 30 cm from the base of the tree. The dam (pictured below) is of a relative size with a combination of remnant bush and Slash Pines around its perimeter so the area where the orchid is growing experiences some dappled sun throughout the day and has protection from the harsh western sun. The dam is fed by an underground spring, the head of which is located two properties away.
The property is identified as wet sclerophyll forest that has eucalypts, vines and grasses. The Regional Ecosystems (REs) on the property are 12.9-10.14 Sandstone ranges (not of concern) and 12.3.2 Alluvium river and creek ats (of concern). The orchid is located in the 12.3.2 RE area.
We’re not sure if the early September spring rain, which we haven’t had for several years, was the trigger for the orchid’s growth and flowering. We have witnessed quite a few other species, both planted and established, on the property flowering for the first time during this spring period.
Rob literally stumbled on the Chain Ribbon Root Orchid while we were by the dam one morning taking out some sapling Slash Pines and generally cleaning up the area. He had noticed something on the tree in the morning, and it was only after returning to the site later that day to have a look at ‘something he’d seen’ that we realised it was truly something special. We referred to our Mangroves to Mountains handbook (which is invaluable) to pinpoint the species of orchid.
It was still there after the dry October, albeit slightly less plump and lush, but still healthy. We will definitely be marking this September in our diary to see if any more orchids appear. In the meantime we’ll keep an eye on the one by the dam and take note of its progress.
Article by Robert Gillman and Carla Nicholson Land for Wildlife members Eudlo, Sunshine Coast