Acianthus pusillus – Mosquito Orchid
This orchid is so common, many orchid enthusiasts overlook it when on an orchid excursion. It is small, difficult to photograph, and as it is very close to the ground, many don’t think it is worth the effort getting all the way down to photograph it. It is a tough and hardy little plant.
It is very small. On a healthy flower stem of just over 10cm, it may have over 10 flowers. The flowers are less than half a centimetre high. Coupled with its size, and dark colour it is very difficult to photograph. I’ve observed that photos taken with a flash make the stem and flowers appear a dark brown/red colour but without a flash it looks more purple. It has a distinctive heart-shaped leaf which is purple underneath. Its sister is Nemacianthus caudatus (Mayfly Orchid), which flowers after the Mosquito Orchid.
It does have a long flowering time from April to July. This occurs if they are not pollinated. The little pollinator is a small fly, which is difficult to find even on a large colony of plants. However on some of these plants we had at home I notices some of these pollinators.
Like most orchids, the little mosquito orchid tends to grow in shady areas. This orchid is often found near the bases of trees, in a moist little corner. It does have a tendency to grow in colonies.