SPECIES: Rhizanthella gardneri – Western Underground Orchid
CLASSIFICATION: Critically endangered
Rare, delicate and such a wonder. This is the critically endangered Western Underground Orchid. It spends its entire lifecycle, including flowering, at or below the soil surface. When it does flower, up to 100 small, inward-facing pink-deep red and cream flowers grow, surrounded by a protective tulip-like head.
You’ll find – or not find – the Western Underground Orchid in the south-west of WA in the Wheatbelt region. There’s thought to be as few as 250 plants left across 6 or so known populations.
As you would imagine, habitat loss and degradation are the largest threats impacting this native orchid. So, watch as you step amongst the leaf and bark litter, as you might be right on top of the ever-so-rare Western Underground Orchid.
Photo: Jean and Fred Hort