Spotlight on tiny, endangered, rarely seen orchid, thanks to Wendy Grimm

By Wendy Grimm

Genoplesium baueri R.Br., an endangered terrestrial orchid species endemic to the Sydney Basin in New South Wales, is featured in Seldom seen: rare plants of Greater Sydney (Alan Fairley 2004), a slender volume of encyclopaedic knowledge for those bent on the study and conservation of endangered plants.

Each summer from late December to May-June, Wendy Grimm, a member of the North Shore group, has captured on camera, plotted on maps and recorded in excel spreadsheets on a weekly basis (2009-2021) the intimate details/population demographics of Genoplesium baueri plants at northern Sydney sites in Ku-ring-gai Chase NP and Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden. Recognition of the variability in emergence time was key to tracking populations, observing their life cycle and their effective fertility rates across 13 years.

Genoplesium baueri, image Wendy Grimm

Two of the several populations discovered, monitored and managed by Wendy in conjunction with NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service and Ku-ring-gai Council have become key populations of the NSW Government’s Saving our Species program.

Results from this study were recently published online in Cunninghamia, a journal of plant ecology for eastern Australia by The Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney and Wendy was awarded a Master of Philosophy degree by Macquarie University in 2020 for her research into Genoplesium baueri.

The good news is that since 2009 this tiny, fragile orchid has been seen annually and the northern populations are thriving!

Cunninghamia (2020) 20: 259–264 DOI: 10.7751/cunninghamia.2020.014

Cunninghamia (2020) 20: 265–271 DOI: 10.7751/cunninghamia.2020.015