Saving the endangered Disa draconis

Disa draconis in flower

In partnership with the City of Cape Town’s Biodiversity Management Branch, the Cape Town Environmental Education Trust has initiated a project which aims to secure the future of an endangered orchid species (Disa draconis), found at False Bay Nature Reserve, and of which only six plants remain. This orchid is reduced to a few populations between the West Coast and the Cape Peninsula, however observed differences in the flower morphology of the separate populations indicates that the lowland sandplain populations, such as that at Rondevlei, could be genetically different and therefore warrants some conservation action.

The first step in securing the future of the population is to create an ex-situ population (a population grown and kept separate from the original population to safeguard the genetics for the species), for which the help of experts is needed! The project has been able to partner with Stellenbosch University Botanical Garden and the Institute for Plant Biotechnology at Stellenbosch University. This week the team were in the lab sowing seeds onto sterile culture media with the hope of propagating more plants.