Australia: Protecting the holy grail of Victorian orchids

At a top-secret location in Victoria, fenced off and well-camouflaged, there grows a plant.

It is obviously special. It is rare and beautiful and deeply strange.

The secrecy is vital because, were its location known, it would become a tourist attraction – and risk being trampled. Or worse: stolen by illegal wildflower poachers.

Scientifically, it is labelled Caladenia colorata – the coloured spider orchid. The team of scientists who have spent more than a decade trying to cultivate it simply call it the “holy grail”.

“It’s a completely outrageous plant,” says Dr Noushka Reiter, leader of that effort.

Orchid lovers are an obsessive bunch, but Colorata inspires a fervour that goes above and beyond, both because it is extremely endangered – only about 1000 exist in the wild – and extremely odd.

Read more at The Age (Liam Mannix)


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