Thynninorchis nothofagicola

Thynninorchis nothofagicola (myrtle elbow orchid) was first discovered in 1994, is endemic to Tasmania and known from 1 site only. It has only been seen three times 1994 (5 or 6 plants), 1995 (2 plants) and 2003 (3 plants).


It is listed under the Tasmanian Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 as Endangered and Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 as Critically Endangered.


Tenure of the known site is now within the Southwest National Park and also within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

A cage was erected in 2001 and extended in 2007 to protect the site from Lyre Bird scratching.

I was part of a group of volunteers from Threatened Plants Tasmania who assisted Richard Schahinger from DPIPWE to check the caged area and systematically surveyed 3 similar habitats within the area in Feb 2015 but found no orchids. There are no signs of lyre bird activity within the cage, but certainly plenty in the immediate and broader areas. It was noted in Listing Statement in 2007 that shrub growth within the caged area may be a problem but the caged area is free of any shrub growth, suggesting during the annual search for the orchid, somebody may have been doing some gardening as per the listing statement under ‘What is needed?.

During the TPT survey a couple of plants species were noted as growing ‘very out of place’ within the mixed forest. This mixed forest habitat, as Jones (1998) noted ‘is a very unusual habitat for Arthrochilus (as it was then known) leading us to wonder if Thynninorchis nothofagicola preferred habitat is closer to that of Thynninorchis huntiana on Flinders Island. Vegetation not dissimilar to this occurs at the fringes of the mixed forest in the surrounding area and needs to be surveyed.