Rare Lizard Orchid sighted on Budawang Coast

In September Nick De Jong was wandering through a swamp near Conjola when he spotted a rare treasure – Burnettia cuneata, commonly known as the lizard orchid. This plant normally flowers in spring, nearly always only after fires the previous summer. So this is an unusual occurrence. The only other known sighting if Burnettia cuneata in the Budawang Coast range was at Endrick in November 2020, after the Black Summer fires (looged on iNaturalist).

Burnettia cuneata is the is the only species of the genus Burnettia. It is a leafless terrestrial, mycotrophic herb with one or two leaf-like bracts and up to seven flowers that are brownish on the back and pink or white inside.

It is endemic to southeastern Australia where it grows in dense thickets in swamps. In NSW there have been a handful of sightings in the Blue Mountains, near Wollongong, and in the coastal area close to the Victorian border. Mainly occurring in Tasmania, it is also found on the southern coast of Victoria.

See Nick’s observation on iNaturalist: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/182289048

Also see Native Plants of the Ulladulla Region by Nicholas De Jong