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Rare native orchid discovered during weed removal campaign

A close up of the Sydney Plains Greehood orchid (Pterostylis saxicola).

A close up of the Sydney Plains Greehood orchid (Pterostylis saxicola).

A rare and endangered native orchid species has been discovered during an extensive weed removal campaign on a property located a short drive from the city centre of Campbelltown.

Greater Sydney Local Land Services officer Peter Ridgeway confirmed the species to be the Sydney Plains Greehood orchid (Pterostylis saxicola) which only grows on the Cumberland Plain in and around Sydney.

It was found in a Menangle area property.

“Prior to this incredible discovery, there have only been about 350 of these plants known to exist across six populations,” he said.

Mr Ridgeway said efforts to preserve the site had reaped reward with more than 60 native plants species amongst the Cumberland Plain Woodland, a critically endangered ecological community.

“We have worked with the landholders and local volunteers to remove African olive, lantana, boxthorn and other weeds in the eight hectares of woodland which has resulted in the return of many native species and we are thrilled with this latest development,” he said.

Volunteer Talia Von Bockel reported the discovery and said she knew immediately she had uncovered something important.

“I’ve grown up with my dad sharing his knowledge and his many years of experience,’’ Ms Von Bockel said.

“I decided to have a go at weeding some of the prickly pear in the woodland and happened to spot an orchid.

“Dad’s taken me on many orchid hunting trips before, so it’s quite a nostalgic memory for me.

Mr Ridgeway said the orchids only appeared for around a fortnight in Spring when the conditions are right.

“Making this kind of discovery shows that collaboration and commitment really do pay off when it comes to protecting our native environmental assets,” he said.

Greater Sydney Local Land Services has supported the project through on ground advice and assistance as well as funding through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

Volunteer Talia Von Bockel with Greater Sydney Senior Land Services officer Peter Ridgeway.

Orchid discovery: volunteer Talia Von Bockel with Greater Sydney Senior Land Services officer Peter Ridgeway.

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