Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Looking for a needle in the haystack

They said it was impossible. 'Good luck', they said. 'Best of British luck.' But we pressed on.

Our plan was to search for a Fairy Lantern Thismia rodwayi in the wet forests of Great Otway National Park. Rosalind reasoned that because it grows in Tasmania and eastern Victoria it was a possibility that it would also be present in the Otways, given that Victoria and Tasmania were connected by a land bridge only 15 000 years ago. So she organised a bunch of us to go down there last weekend. It's a very big park but the search technique for this plant is to each take a one-square metre quadrat (that's one square metre!), carefully lift of the mulch and look underneath for this tiny plant. It might be red, but it's only a centimetre of two high. If no Thismia was present we moved on to another quadrat.

At our second site we were successful. It's a beautiful and unusual plant, aptly named Fairy Lantern. We found eleven plants in all, over two days. Naturally we were very excited. It was all good fun.

The first image is of an immature plant, the second is mature.


Denis Wilson said...

Hi Boobook
I have heard of these tiny flowers, as there have been some found here - different sp, but same problem of finding them.
I admire your group's perseverance.
Nice Pic.

Mosura said...

What a fascinating plant. I don't recall hearing of it before. I was just reading more about it in this pdf document which suggests Lyrebirds are a "potential" threat to the plant in Tasmania. Therefore, I'm curious as to whether Lyrebirds are common in the area you visited.

Boobook said...

Hi Mosura, there are no lyrebirds in the Otways. There weren't any in Tasmania either but appear to be flourishing since they were introduced. But Thismia grows in the wet forests east of Melbourne where lyrebirds occur naturally so it may not be a problem unless the population of lyrebirds get out of hand.

Snail said...

This is a new one on me --- I must read up on it. Such a tiny plant. Well done!

Black Diamond Run said...

Hi Boobook,
I can well imagine the excitement of extending the range of this species.Well done. Oh and hi to Dennis, I noticed his comment above,this species would be right up his alley.
Black Diamond Images