Australian Orchid Foundation


Project: 349/2022



The taxonomic, phylogenetic and conservation status of the orchids of Lord Howe Island

Applicant: Ian Hutton,  Dr Heidi Zimmer

Institution: Lord Howe Island Museum, Lord Howe Island

Centre for Australian National Biodiversity Research, Australian. National Herbarium, Clunies Ross St, Canberra 2601.


Lord Howe Island (LHI) is an oceanic island 600 km east of Port Macquarie, NSW. The flora of LHI encompasses elements of Australian, New Zealand and New Caledonian elements, while also displaying high degree of endemism.

Thirteen species of orchid have been recorded on LHI, of which four are currently recognised as endemic. Given the tendency for endemic species to evolve on islands, it is possible that other LHI orchid taxa are distinct from their Australasian relatives – and are therefore of higher conservation concern.

This project will assess the taxonomic, phylogenetic and conservation status of orchids on LHI by gathering information on species populations, distributions and threats. Specimens collected as part of this project will also be subject to molecular analysis (as part of a broader program) to provide further insight into their taxonomic status and phylogenetic affinities.

A rigorous understanding of the orchid diversity of LHI, especially of species endemism, will enable effective conservation management decision-making

Photographs by Ian Hutton