Monthly Archives: July 2012

The long and short of it

Urochilus sanguineus – Maroon Banded Greenhood

This species used to be listed as a Pterostylis, and is similar strucurally to the Bunochilus.  Often it is found with Bunochilus, but they have not been known to hybridize.  It has a labellum which is sensitive to touch.  The plant will either produce a flowering stem, or a sterile leaf.

Winter orchids: Linguella sp. Hills nana, Urochilus sanguineus

This species flowers from May to September, and can be found in most regions of South Australia, as well as Western Australia, Tasmania and Victoria.  It is believed that this plant may have originated from the west, as most Urochilus species are endemic to Western Australia.  South Australia only has this species.

Quite often I’ve seen a variety of heights of these orchids, on the same site, at the same time.  This is mainly due to the nutrients of the soil where the plants are growing.  The dwaft plants are called ‘depauperate’.  Another feature of these orchids is they can grow in clumps or as a single plant.

The flowers can be difficult to photograph as they are very darkly coloured.  However with the afternoon sun coming through them they are beautiful.  Taking photos of them with a flash makes these flowers almost look black, and hides the loveliness of these flowers.

I’ve provided two pictures below of this species, the first from the southern and the second from the northern Mt. Lofty Ranges to show there is really no difference despite location.  Overall the species only varies in height, and the flowers fade with age.

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Flash not flattering – Part 2

In Part 1, I said I would take some more pictures comparing orchids taken with a flash and those taken without a flash.  On Saturday, I went out and took some photos.  However it was such a lovely day, that I did not take many pictures with a flash.  Why spoil a good day!  In the end, I took more videos of orchids than photos, and I’ll eventually put a couple of these up here.

I probably should have not taken the picture with the camera facing into the sun, but…

The above pictures have not been edited and are of Urochilus sanguineus, the Maroon Banded Greenhoods.

Slender

Oligochaetochilus arenicola – Sand-hill Rufoushood

As well as introducing you to this fascinating orchid, I will use it as an example for some tips in orchid identification.  However, later on, I do have an interesting tale to tell on this species, but I’ll leave that for another post (i.e. when I get around to writing it – and put the video together!!)

Detail of the bristles on the labellum

This would have to be one of my favourite orchids, not because of any vivid or striking colours.  It has a slender flower, and when it cachest the sunligh, it is quite spectacular.  It tends to grow in sandy soil, and more arid areas, growing in drier sites where other orchids would not be able to survive.  It is listed as rare.

Its unpronounceable name refers to some small bristles which grow on the labellum (lip) of the flower.  The number of bristles is used to determine which species it is, so it doesn’t help identification when the photograph is of the flower with the labellum triggered as seen below.

Oligochaetochilus arenicola with a triggered labellum

This is a spring flowering orchid so it won’t be seen flowering until September to November.  However, its leaves are up in late autumn.  The leaves grow as a rosette (or several leaves growing from one point.)  In this genus, the leaves will begin to die during flowering.

With shorter sepals

Upon first glance the above picture might look like a different species.  Its sepals are shorter than the other orchids photographs in this post.  This was my first reaction upon looking at this picture when I returned home.  This is an example how anyone can be fooled while identifying orchids.  If you look closely, you will see that in fact the sepals have been chewed.  Most likely this happened while the orchid was still in bud, as seen on the left flower.

Across different flowers in this species, there is quite a lot of variation meaning no two flowers are exactly the same.  Maybe this makes them so different and special.

Here are a few more pictures because I like showcasing these flowers!

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Flash not flattering – Part 1

As much as possible I avoid taking photographs with a flash.  Often the flash will distort the colour of the flowers, and the orchids look so much better without a flash.  Below are two pictures of Corysanthes diemenica, showing the difference in colour caused by the flash.  The temptation is to use a flash as these orchids tend to grow under bushes where it is dark.

The pictures on the left without a flash has the natural colours.  The picture on the right with the flash has distorted the colours, and some of the details have been lost like the couple of ‘hairs’ at the base of the flowers.

A flash can be used and work if it is not attached to the camera.  I have seen some photographers using a mirror to direct the sunlight on to the orchid, and although I have not tried it myself, I understand it can be effective.

Another observation is the pictures taken with black backgrounds look unnatural, and lack space around the flowers.  Personally I like to take my photos to show how the orchids look in their natural settings.  The only time I use the flash is when photographing orchids indoors.

I’ve had difficulty finding photos I’ve taken with a flash, so when I’m out next, I’ll take some pictures with both flash and without, so they can be compared.  They will be in Part 2.

Flowering now

During the week I was able to check up and see what some of our South Australian orchids were doing.

The leaves of Cyrtostylis reniformus were up with a couple of early buds just beginning to appear.  I like the stripes on the leaves and the colour of them.  They are very distinctive.  This is the later flower of the two species of Cyrtostylis with the earlier being Cyrtostylis robusta.

A finished captual of Diplodium robustum.  This is where the seed will form.  They were still all facing the hillside.

A nice little colony of Diplodium robustum.  Note the leaves at the base, as these are the same species, but will not flower this year.

An Urochilus sanguineus out in flower.

The Veined Helmet Orchids, Corysanthes diemenica were only just opening.  Many were still in bud.

Facing away

Diplodium sp.- Shell Orchid

In this post, I will be dealing with Diplodium robustum, Diplodium sp. Adelaide Hills, and the hybrid the occurs from both.  These plants flower between May and August.

The plants of this species will either have a small rosette of leaves or a flower with leaves growing from the stem.  These orchids tends to form large colonies, but only 10% will flower.  An interesting observation is that these flowers will grow facing the slope.  It could be that this is where the pollinator will come from.  The reason is not known, but it does make it hard to photograph the front of the flower.

All the flowers are facing in one direction.
Note the little rosettes around the plants

Another example of the flowers all facing the banking

The two parent species of Diplodium are determined by the length of the spike on the end of the dorsal sepal.  D. robustum has long spike and is pictured below, left.  D. sp. Adelaide Hills has a short spike and is pictured below, right.  The hybrids are more likely to finish flowering before their parent plants.

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