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All Parks and Wildlife Service news items and media statements produced after mid-August 2019 are available on the new departmental website .

New orchid species add to WA plant diversity

Clumped spider orchid
Clumped spider orchid Andrew Brown

Seventeen new types of spider orchids have been discovered in Western Australia’s south-west region, Australia’s only internationally-recognised global biodiversity hotspot.

Department of Parks and Wildlife herbarium curator Kevin Thiele said the new orchids were found in areas throughout the south-west from north of Geraldton to east of Esperance.

He said the orchids had recently been formally named in a journal published by the WA Herbarium, highlighting the enormous variety of plant species known to exist in the region.

“This is a significant achievement – it’s not every day 17 new types of spider orchids are named,” Dr Thiele said.

The newly named spider orchids are all from the genus Caladenia and include 11 separate species and six subspecies.

“There are now 158 identified spider orchids in WA, the vast majority of them found only in the south-west, reinforcing the State’s reputation for its amazing diversity of flora,” Dr Thiele said.

“This discovery also adds greatly to the understanding of spider orchids by botanists and the wider community, who may have them growing on their properties.

“By knowing the distinguishing features of these species we may be able to show that orchids we thought to be rare may actually be more widely found and distributed.”

Western Australia has one of the highest rates of new plant species discoveries in the world, with an average of more than 50 a year.

Parks and Wildlife staff member Andrew Brown and WA Herbarium research associate Garry Brockman identified and named the new species.

Information about the new orchids has been published in the current edition of WA’s botanical journal Nuytsia.

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