It’s an oversight of town planning rather than one of nature that one of the most retrograde populations of troglodytes has been dumped on top of one of the few remaining populations of one of the rarest flowers on earth.
I became aware of the plight of the crimson spider orchid a few years ago and made discreet (albeit persistent) enquiries about what I could do to ensure its longevity.
The response, whatever the source, was the same.
“Leave it the hell alone”.
It should come as no surprise that even among the elite of the orchid fancying world, a crimson spider orchid is the holy grail. It can be obtained for neither love nor money, the hoi polloi of the orchid world (in which I firmly include myself) don’t get a look in.
It’s rarity is legendary, it’s allure as appealing for that fact as for it’s beauty.
Nonetheless, I have it on the best possible authority that a reserve population in captivity is in place to keep the genetic strain alive. Details beyond that are extremely sketchy, it becomes a bit like an X files episode to tell you the truth.
Nonetheless, rural fire brigade Luddite in chief Margaret Wehner is just the latest in a seemingly endless procession of local yokels who seem intent on eradicating every last member of this species from God’s green earth.
Everyone from monkey bike riding naf naffs, misguided orchid thieves, incestuously spawned arsonists, greedy developers, landscape raping quarry operators, herbicidally over-zealous “environmental managers” and environmentally appathetic bushwalkers (just to name a few) have had the proverbial crack at pushing this species over the edge of extinction.
The orchid has seen them all off.
Sure “blowtorch Maggie” may yet succeed in eradicating the last remaining specimens of this species with her “life and property has to come before the environment” stance (Midweek Xpress p.6, September 9, 2009), perfectly resonable given that there are six and a half billion humans on the planet and less than 100 crimson spider orchids, truth is I suspect the orchid will outlast her misguided brand of “environmental protection”.
If it doesn’t, it’ll be a sad outcome for the ethno botanical community.
The orchid itself however, will undoubtably survive, even if only in captivity.
The people of Albury? well perhaps they should adopt as their city flag a motif of the crimson spider orchid, a reminder to all and sundry that it’s not just Tasmanian thylacine hunters, Queensland dingo eradicators and other environmental vandals who have robbed every future generation of Australian native icons.
The “good” people of Albury have done their part too.
I’m sure when the sun has set on this species for all time, when their great great grand-children ask them about the long lost spider orchid, the people of Albury will be able to say proudly “I was in Albury and part of the zealous fire clearing mob who in a fit of over-reaction to the black Saturday bushfires burned the last one of those on earth to cinders”.
In other words “I helped kill that”.
It’ll be a proud day.