Seeds of South Australia
Thelymitra matthewsii (Orchidaceae)
Spiral Sun-orchid
List of species for Thelymitra
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Seed collecting:
October to December
Herbarium regions:
Southern Lofty, Kangaroo Island, South Eastern
NRM regions:
Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, Kangaroo Island, South East
IBRA regions
Glenelg Plain (NCP02)Naracoorte Coastal Plain
 Vulnerable   (IUCN: VU D2)   [1 colony, new location]
Lucindale (NCP03) 
 Endangered   (IUCN: EN B2ab(i,ii,iii))   (Definite Decline)   [has been extensively searched for and not found - possibly extinct]
Tintinara (NCP04) 
 Endangered   (IUCN: EN B2ab(i,ii,iii))   (Definite Decline)   [has been extensively searched for and not found - possibly extinct]
Kangaroo Island (KAN01)Kanmantoo
 Endangered   (IUCN: EN D)   [R Bates: less than 250 plants in 2 disjunct pops found in Flinders Chase & near Western River CP]
RSCA map:
Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion. Please click the thumbnail map.
AVH map:
Australian distribution map (external link)
SA Census:
Census of South Australian plants (external link)     [genus Thelymitra]
Name derivation:
Thelymitra from Greek 'thelys' meaning a bishop and 'mitra' meaning a headwear, hat, hence a bishop’s mitre, referring to the sometimes plumed or decorated wings of the column, which is usually produced behind and over the anther in a hood-like projection. Matthewsii name in honour of Richard H. Matthews (1835-1913), a New Zealand amateur botanist who specialized in orchids and ferns.
Found on the Fleurieu Peninsula, the west end of Kangaroo Island and the South-east in South Australia, growing on limestone or in calcareous sands in mallee heathland. Also found in Victoria.
Native. Very rare in South Australia. Rare in Victoria. Vulnerable in Australia under the EPBC Act.
Plant description:
Terrestrial orchid growing to 20 cm tall with a single (rarely 2) flower. This orchid is readily identifiable by its unique leaf which is ovate, irregularly lobe then narrowing into a spirally twisted lamina, to 6 cm long. The small flower is purple to reddish with darker stripes, the column is purple with a yellow apex and lateral lobes lack hair. Flowering between August and September.
Fruit type:
Brown papery ellipsoid capsule.
Seed type:
Very small dark brown ellipsoid seed with an ovoid translucent brown mesh-like covering.
Seed collecting:
Collect fat capsules as they start to dry and turn brown. Pods will split and release the seeds quickly and will require monitoring. To increase the chances of collecting mature pods, it is recommended that a small breathable bag (ie. Organza bags) be used to enclose the developing capsules.
Seed cleaning:
Place the capsules in a container that will hold fine seeds and leave to dry for a few weeks or until the capsule split. Then carefully hold the capsule and tap it gently to release the seeds. Store the seeds with a desiccant such as dried silica beads or dry rice, in an air tight container in a cool and dry place, refrigerator or in liquid nitrogen.
Seed viability:
For the NVC South East Orchid Project two populations consisting of more than 100 individuals in total were recorded from the Nangwarry Native Forest Reserve. Approximately 1,600,000 seeds (0.27 g) were banked for these two observed populations. Seed viability for these collections was 61% to 79%
Seed germination:
Seed germination in Thelymitra species is difficult in the absence of symbiotic mycorrhizal fungi.