Australian Orchid Foundation


Project: 356/2023


Title:  Propagation and cryopreservation of helmet orchids (Corybas) in New Zealand

Applicants:  Dr Karin van der Walt and Dr Carlos Lehnebach

Institutions: Ōtari Native Botanic Garden, New Zealand. Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. 


This project will make a significant contribution to orchid conservation in New Zealand by investigating and optimising asymbiotic and symbiotic seed germination protocols for nine Corybas (helmet orchid) species. The target species are:

  • C. carsei
  • C. cheesemanii
  • C. cryptanthus
  • C. dienemus
  • C. hatchii
  • C. hypogaeus
  • C. iridescens
  • C. macranthus
  • C. oblongus

Gaining a better understanding of the seed germination process will not only help us to implement restoration projects for threatened Corybas species but will also make it possible to optimise long-term storage of their seed and mycorrhizal fungi through seed banking and cryopreservation. Furthermore, because the Corybas species we will study represent species from different habitats and genetic lineages and include the only myco-heterotrophic species known so far in the genus, we expect that our findings will be equally diverse and will serve as baseline information to advance the conservation of Corybas species across Australasia.