#ThreatenedSpecies of the week: Kneeling hammer-orchid

Drakaea concolor, commonly known as Kneeling hammer-orchid, grows between 25-30cm tall and is an erect, tuberous herb with a single, small, heart-shaped leaf.

This orchid has a single flower which can get up to 4cm long, with a hammer-like labellum on a hinged claw. Glands on the labellum give off a scent which attracts male flower wasps which then try to mate with the labellum and, in the process, pick up or deposit pollen. Peak flowering time is mid-August to September.

Sadly, this rare flower is listed as Vulnerable under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) and as Declared Rare Flora under the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950.

It is known from four areas: along Murchison River and Bungabandi Creek in Kalbarri National Park, along Hutt River and tributaries, north-west of Northampton; near Greenough River, east of Geraldton and; Pinjarrega Nature Reserve, south-west of Coorow.

This week's Threatened Species of the Week is the Kneeling Hammer-Orchid.
This week’s Threatened Species of the Week is the Kneeling Hammer-Orchid.

In the north of its range, the Kneeling Hammer-orchid is found in moist, sandy sites, in heath or scrub containing Calothamnus homalophyllus, Melaleuca megacephala, M. uncinata and Acacia spp.  Further south, populations grow on deep pale yellow sand or sand over sandstone, in association with Ecdeiocolea spp. sedges prominent in the understorey beneath open shrubland or woodland of Acacia spp., Banksia spp. and Grevillea leucopteris.

Threats to the Kneeling hammer-orchid include competition by weeds (typically wild oats and lupins), inappropriate fire regimes, land disturbance from management activities, grazing pressure by pigs and goats, crushing by pig activities and changes to hydrology such as altered or increased flow regimes affecting riparian vegetation due to a rising water table.

Management actions include the protection of habitats on private lands and in reserves and on other State lands, feral animal control including fencing to minimise feral herbivore predation, weed control for critical habitats and fire management, especially for species with generations greater than five to eight years.

For more information about this plant, or if you have seen it, please contact the Department of Parks and Wildlife’s Geraldton District Office on 9964 0901.

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