WITH few experts on botany able to verify new plants, it's little wonder it has taken more than 30 years to formally identify two threatened orchid species native to Mount Canobolas.
Australia's foremost authority on orchids, David Jones, recently named the Canobolas Leek Orchid (Paraprasophyllum canobolense) and the Pink Spider Orchid (Caladenia boweri) in a publication, giving them scientific recognition.
Dr Colin Bower, who regularly studies plant life on the mountain, sent specimens to the Australian National Botanic Gardens in 1988.
"There are literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions of species recognised by someone, but because the process of formal naming and describing them is tedious, it takes a long time and there's a shortage of people who can do it," he said.
Dr Bower said the orchids played a role in the mountain's ground cover and the roots may have even been part of Aboriginal diets before white settlement.
He said during surveys after the February bushfires, about 90 leek orchids were located across a 50-hectare area and suspected the fires had brought them up.
"Of those plants, maybe three of those flowered this year," he said.
"Whether it's due to the drought or maybe it's taking a year off this year."
The spider orchid is rarer again, having not been seen since 1988 despite several searches.
Cr Bower said Dr Jones considered both species should be listed as threatened, with the Canobolas Leek Orchid classified as endangered and the Pink Spider Orchid as critically endangered, and he would likely make the application.
"Both these orchids are rarely-seen gems of Mount Canobolas that could easily be driven to extinction by inappropriate development," he said.
Dr Bower said one species, Giles Mint Bush, was discovered in the 1960s and had already been successfully classified as critically endangered in recent years, meaning NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service now committed resources to its conservation.
One of the species' native populations was wiped out during the 2018 bushfires.
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