Tarwin Landcare Group had a great afternoon at the Tarwin Cemetery earlier this month. Photos: Roxana McMillan

MEMBERS of the Tarwin Landcare Group enjoyed some of the orchids that the Tarwin Cemetery is renowned for earlier this month.

Thirty-seven species of native orchids have been recorded at the cemetery, including a spider orchid found a few days before the group had their tour and a white finger orchid found on the day.

Tarwin Landcare members, Lorraine and Heather, led the tour.

Lorraine described some of the distinguishing characteristics of orchids, in particular the existence of an enlarged, modified petal called the labellum.

Meaning lip, the labellum is an essential part of the orchid’s reproductive process, forming a platform for insects to land on to collect and distribute pollen.

The first orchids spotted were the purple wax-lips (Glossodia major) which occur in the open, grassy areas of the cemetery.

The unexpectedly sunny weather also brought out several species of sun orchids (Thelymitra sp) which close at night and in cold or cloudy weather.

Close examination of the more protected, shady areas under trees revealed several other types of orchids at different stages of growth, including the strongly perfumed brown beaks (Lyperanthus suaveolens).

Orchids are not the only botanical highlight at Tarwin Cemetery, which retains many species that have been lost elsewhere due to grazing and cultivation.

Local Field Naturalists have prepared a list of the cemetery’s native plants, which is held on the South Gippland Conservation Society website www.sgcs.org.au/leaflets/Tarwin-Lower-Cemetery-Plant-List.pdf).

There is also an information board for visitors with photos of some of the more common species found in the cemetery.

Visitors to the cemetery are reminded to park on the gravel road, and to walk carefully, to protect the orchids and other native plants that are nestled in the grass.

Tarwin Landcare Group meets regularly and is active throughout Tarwin Lower, Walkerville and Venus Bay.

Its members help to maintain the walking track between Venus Bay and Tarwin Lower, carry out conservation projects and run field days promoting sustainable agriculture.

New members are always welcome and contact tarrray49@gmail.com for details.