More than orchids

Orchid hunting is not all about finding the most interesting, rarest and amazing orchids.  It’s an opportunity to immerse myself in the bush, and relax.  There are many beautiful things to see and enjoy.  Recently I saw this Egret with its mating plumage.

Egret

The bush has many beautiful and amazing areas that are such a pleasure to see.  Below are a few pictures of the patterns created by the trees.

DSC02953Sometimes I am fast enough to capture birds, but since most of the time I have the macro lens on, that is not very possible.

Misitlo birdThere are some days when I return home to look through my pictures and find something unexpected such as a mosquito captured in frame!

Jonesiopsis

Orchids are beautiful but there are so many other surprises in the bush that are waiting to be found.

Ducks

Currently there is not a lot happening in the orchid world.  So today’s post is all about duck orchids.

As I had a bit more spare time over the last couple of months, I decided to try and capture the beauty of the Small Duck orchid in a pencil drawing.  The flower would easily fit inside a thumb, so my drawing is substantially larger than the actual orchid.   I did draw from a photograph that I had taken.

There is somethings so beautiful when you meet someone who is truly excited about learning.  And what’s more a teacher learns from their students.  Recently at an orchid society meeting, one of the members was very excitedly telling me about recently seeing the duck orchids and discovering how the flowers behaved and were pollinated.

I was able to point out that the duck orchid actually has a sensitive labellum, a feature that is common is several species of Pterostylis and in Bunochilus, Urochilus and OligochaetochilusThe ‘head’ of the duck orchid flips down into the ‘body’ of the flower trapping any pollinator.  This can be seen in the centre right picture.  However I had never really thought about where the pollen of the flower is, until the member asked me about a yellow spot on all his photographs!  The pollen sits at the base of the body which means the pollinator has to pass over it to escape out of the orchid and thus pollinates the orchids.  It can be seen on the duck on the far left.

100th post: Questions and Answers

Wow, 100 posts, and I was never keen on writing those English essays!  So as promised this post will be a Questions and Answer post, and thank you to everyone who submitted a questions.  They are good questions and I will try my best to answer them.

Do Australian Orchids have one season?

In Australia one or more orchid species will be flowering at any given time of the year.  Currently our summer orchids are in flower, although many of the summer orchids actually grow in swamps and thus are rare.

The moose orchid only grows in swamps in South Australia and flowers

The moose orchid only grows in swamps in South Australia and flowers between November to April

As I was curious as to the number of species flower per month, I took all the species that grow in South Australia and plotted them for each region.  In the northern parts of South Australia due to desert there are only one or two species present, which tend to flower in spring.  However in the southern, wetter regions, there is more likelihood of finding an orchid in flower any time of the year.  From the averages of all the regions it can be seen that the peak in the orchid season is at September to October (the beginning of Spring).

The number of species flowering per region

The number of species flowering per region – Click on image to enlarge

As a keen photographer, I would love to know – in a general sense – where you find a lot of your orchids?

Generally I don’t say where I find orchids partly because some of the sites that I visit are sensitive and it is not wise to have a large number of people visiting the locations.  Also with some of the rarer species, in particular the Duck Orchid, are prone to digging because people do not realize how difficult they are to grow.  No one, not even the experts have been able to grow it.  It is also illegal to take any plant (even picked flowers or capsules) from the wild without a licence.

The duck orchids can not be grown

The duck orchids can not be grown

However there are a lot of locations were you can find orchids.  Where there is native habitat in good condition, there should be orchids.  These include the Mt. Lofty Botanic Gardens (I was up there last Saturday and Dipodium are still flower – even some in bud!), Morialta Conservation Park (take the track on the left to the second falls as it has numerous winter/spring orchids growing along the edge), anywhere in Belair National Park which is a hive for orchids and actually has a few rarer species growing there.  There are many other locations in the Adelaide Hills where they can be found.  Pretty much it comes down to having quick eyes and knowing what habitat the different orchids like.  Anywhere where there are few weeds, there will generally be orchids growing.

A really good way to discover more locations and orchid species is to join an orchid club and go on an excursion with others.  I personally would recommend the Native Orchid Society of South Australia, but have I mentioned that I am their Assistant Editor?!

Arachnorchis tentaculata

The King Spider orchid – Arachnorchis tentaculata – found at Scott Creek Conservation Park

There has been a fire in the Belair National Park, is it likely that there will be a flush of orchids in the fire location come Winter/Spring?

Fire and orchids is such a complex topic.  For those who aren’t local there was a bush fire which occurred a couple of weeks ago in a national park pretty close to the city of Adelaide.  This coming season I would expect to see more orchids flower in that area, in particular the fire orchid.  I will be checking it out later this year to see what happens.  I’ve written about orchids and fire previously.

However there are long term effects of fire that are still being researched.  The following article is highly recommended reading:

Black Saturday Victoria 2009 – Natural values fire recovery program by Mike Duncan

Why some orchids have the trigger mechanism and some don’t?

What a lovely questions – I wish I knew the answer!  There are a number of species that have labellums that can move, from Pterostylis which flowers in the winter to the Duck Orchids which flower in late spring.  They all have different pollinators and the flowers look different.  The trigger mechanism is just one method for being pollinated.  Other orchids use different methods such as imitating a female insect or imitating another flower.  This article could be of interest:

Notes on the Anthecology of Pterostylis curta (Orchidaceae) by Peter Bernhardt

The labellum of the Bunochilus viriosous (also known as Pterostylis viriosous) can be triggered. Photographed in Hardy Scrub

The labellum of the Bunochilus viriosous (also known as Pterostylis viriosous) can be triggered.
Photographed in Hardy Scrub

What is the meaning of life?

The meaning of life is…             [unable to compute]

Thank you everyone for your questions.  I learnt a few things from writing this post and I hope you did to.  Orchids are so complex and amazing!

Announcement!

Greetings everyone!  My next post will be my 100th, so I planning on doing something different: a questions and answer post.  I’m welcoming questions on a variety of topics: from anything on orchids to about OrchidNotes.  My aim is that it will be an interactive post, where hopefully we can have some interesting discussions.  I have not done this before, so I hope it works out!!

You can submit your questions a variety of ways: write them in the comments below or through the Contact us page, or any of the social media, Google+, Facebook, or Twitter.  I’m really looking forward to this.  It would be good if I could receive your questions by 21st February.

Jonesiopsis

The pretender

Lobelia gibbosa - False Orchid

“It’s summer, and not a lot of orchids are about, but wait, who is that pretty blue flower over there?  Is it an orchid?  I’ve never seen it/read about this flower before.”

Lobelia gibbosa

It might be a pretty flower that is fairly easy to stumble across in the bush, but sadly it is not an orchid, and many have confused it as an orchid, thus enabling it to gain the name “False Orchid.”  It is not even a lily, but is in the family of Campanulaceae.  Since I do not know a lot of information about this plant, I’ve been doing some research and it is really a fascinating plant!

There are several reasons why it can never be an orchid.  It is an annual and orchids are not annuals.  Although the flower may look like it has five segments, it does not have the distinctive column found in all orchids.

DSC03004a (2)It generally has two to four purple/blue and sometimes white flowers that grow from a maroon coloured stem.  The flowers may have a stripe down the center of the petals.  Flowering begins in early summer.  Interestingly, at flowering time, the plant’s leaves have begun to die down.  The plant no longer depends on its roots for survival and can be uprooted and continue to grow.  Consequently it is one of the few flowers that can be found following a 40C heat wave!

It is a fairly widespread plant and can be found in all the states of Australia and even as far as New Zealand and South Africa.  It prefers a slightly open area for growth and seems to be able to cope with a variety of weather conditions.

So while it is not an orchid, or even a lily, enjoy it as it is quite a nice flower!

DSC03010a (2)

Know Them

Sources:

Archer, W. 2011. Esperance Wildflowers: Lobelia gibbosa – Tall Lobelia. [online] Available at: http://esperancewildflowers.blogspot.com.au/2011/02/lobelia-gibbosa-tall-lobelia.html [Accessed: Jan 2014].

Friends of Black Hill and Morialta Incorporated. 2013. Lobelia sp. in Black Hill, Morialta and Horsnell Gully Conservation Parks. [online] Available at: http://www.fobhm.org/noframes/lobelia.htm [Accessed: Jan 2014].

Victorian Orchids

South Australia is the only state in Australia that does not have any epiphytic orchids.  Our state is the driest state in Australia and does not have any rainforests that could offer a suitable condition for them.  So here is a video about some orchids that grow across the border in Victoria.

In Summer…

After having four consecutive days of over 40C (104F) heat, I’m pretty sure that there are not many orchids left in flower now.  However a weeks ago, the hyacinth orchids were in full glory.  Dipodium roseum is one of the most photographed orchids in Australia.  It is often found on road side edges which makes it easy to spot.

Dipodium

It is one of the largest terrestrial orchids and can grow a few feet high.  It grows around Stringy Bark trees as it needs a special fungi to survive as it has no leaves.  Can you spot it/them in the picture below?

DSC02938

This particular species is distinguished by having stripes (rather than spots) on the labellum.  The flowers vary from pink to a soft white, and can be growing on either a dark stem on green stem.  Personally I prefer the pink flowers on the dark stems and sometimes seem to forget the other variety.  Here are two variations growing together.

dipodiumKeep cool/warm depending where you are!