Orchid monitoring

On Hartslock we aim to check every plant that has come up in the last 2-3 years. We check it’s position and record whether it flowered and (ideally) whether it set seed to. In some years we can do all of this but often it is impossible because we just don’t have enough time and trained people to complete the work before the orchids die-off. We do most of this mapping between February and the start of June but actually the monkey orchids are just visible above ground in November. However, they are so small that we take the pragmatic approach that we would probably be trampling on too many to make it worth mapping at this time.

The main orchid slope has a 10x10m grid laid out across it and plants are plotted into this grid by recording the box they are in and their distances from 2 horizontal corner posts (either the top or bottom set, whichever is most convenient). Using a spreadsheet and some nifty trigonometry I am able to produce a scatter graph that shows the position of all the known orchids and the base data is further analysed using observations taken during mapping on the size/quality of the plant and it’s flowering status. Thsi means that at the end of each season I can fairly accurately report on how healthy the colony is and where we are seeing most changes in density – either plants spreading or disappearing.

In recent years monkey orchids have been recorded in outlying colonies and so we have had to lay-out mini-grids in those places too.