Monthly Archives: August 2013

Orchids in the City Part 1

Normally you would not expect to find orchids growing and thriving in the heart of the city.  The scene below does not very suggest that there is the right habitat for orchids, yet growing on the hill side are about ten to twenty different orchid species.  These orchids have been planted here.

Vale park

This is a small site in Vale Park, next to the Torrens River and just off Ascot Avenue.  It is a public site, with many cyclists and pedestrians passing it on a daily basis.  To cater for the public there are small paths that wander through the planting.

Vale Park Orchids

All the orchids are marked out with small signs which give tell the name of the plant and show the leaf and flower.  This made it very easy to find the orchids.  Surprisingly, not many of the orchids have been dug up.  This is because it is a public place, and the community wants to protect it.

When I visited the site yesterday, there were a few species in flower, and many in leaf or with buds.  There were a lot of Caladenia latifolia (white form – also known as pink fairies) in flower.  I only saw one plant which had the normal pink flowers, all the rest were white.

Another species that I saw was Pterostylis curta.  There were quite a lot of these orchids in flower as well.

Other species seen, included Diuris orientis, Diuris behrii and Diuris pardina, Glossodia major, Leptoceras menziesii which was in bud, Thelymitra pauciflora and Thelymitra antennifera, and Diplodium robustum.

What is unique about this site is that they have focused on restoring the under-story, which includes successfully establishing some native orchids which have been increasing in numbers.  Often it is very difficult to reintroduce orchids. However in this project, there was an existing woodland before planting.  One orchid was successfully pollinated within a week of planting, indicating that the correct pollinating wasp was present.

This project did have a few difficulties to overcome when it started, such workers inadvertently spraying the orchids, but now the weeding is left to the Vale Park Our Patch group.  There is another site at Gilbert Street, in North Adelaide, and I will leave that one for next week.

If you are interested in seeing this site, there will be an open day on the 14th September from 10am to 3pm.  It is on Ascot Avenue on the Vale Park side of the Torrens River.  It will be interesting seeing how this site develops over time.

The little fellow

Pterostylis pedunculata – Maroon-hoods

Pterostylis pedunculata

This is an attractive little greenhood.  It has a distinct maroon top on the flower and its sepal.  I’ve only seen this orchid with a single flower per stem.  It is a reasonably common orchid, growing in most regions of South Australia, as well as in Victoria, Tasmania, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.

Pterostylis pedunculata

It can often be found in open areas of woodlands, and colonizes easily.  It has a relatively long flowering time, first appearing in late July, and sometimes still flowering up until November.  There is a small rosette of leaves at the base of the plant.  The leaves are crinkled on the top, and spaced wider apart than on other Pterostylis species, such as P. nutans or P. curta.

This is one of the easier orchids to grow.  It is quite a hardy little fellow.  Often this orchid can be introduced to sites through mulch.  The picture on the left shows a maroon hood which was found last year (2012) in the heart of the Adelaide city CBD.

Below is a pretty amazing colony growing in someones front lawn.  So for those who really want to grow orchids, this is one of the easier ones to grow.  (But don’t remove them from the wild, as that is illegal.)

An unusual colony growing in a suburban front lawn. Special thanks to Gordon Ninnes for permission to use his picture.

An unusual colony growing in a suburban front lawn.
Special thanks to Gordon Ninnes for permission to use his picture.

Pterostylis pedunculata

Know Them

Having some fun

It has been awhile since I have posted any artwork pictures here.  So today’s pictures are all Pterostylis curtas, Blunt Greenhood.  This is one of the easier orchids to grow, so I was able to place the pot of orchids where I wanted to.  This made it easier for editing the pictures.

And to finish of, here is an unedited picture of the same orchid.

Pterostylis curta

Some Spider Orchids

The spider orchids, Arachnorchis sp. are a rather beautiful genus, with quite a lot of diversity.  Today, I will just be showing two of my favourites.

The first one is Arachnorchis rigida.  It has been several years since I’ve seen this beautiful flower, and I would like to see it again, but sadly it it not that common.  Looking through all the pictures we have taken, I couldn’t really find anything that does justice to this beautiful flower.  Even a Google search did not yield anything spectacular.  It would be great to take some nicer pictures, maybe this year…?

Arachnorchis rigida

I love the soft pink on white.  In the picture above it reminds me of icing.

Arachnorchis rigida

Another beautiful species is the Arachnorchis reticulata.  There is quite a broad diversity in the colouring of this orchid, as can be seen by one labellum being darker than the other.

Arachnorchis reticulata Arachnorchis reticulata

Special thanks again to Dad for this pictures.

Orchids and Fire

Many fires in Australia have caused harm and resulted in huge costs. There have be several major cases of fires causes sever damage and fatalities, including Ash Wednesday in 1980s in South Australia and Black Saturday in Victoria, 2009.

Image Source

However there are several orchids that thrive following a summer fire.  These include the black fire orchid (Pyrorchis nigricans), the rabbit ears orchid (Leptoceras menziesii), and the leek orchid (Prasophyllum elatum).  Let me make it clear, they need a summer burn.  In Australia we have a fire season during summer, when no controlled burns are allowed.  Sadly this is when the orchids need the fire, so it is generally the accidental fires or arson which provide the right conditions.  During the autumn and winter months, controlled burns are conducted to prevent the bushland becoming a fire hazard in summer.  Yet these burns often occur just as the orchids are emerging, and can kill the plants.

Pyrorchis nigricans

The black fire orchid, Pyrorchis nigricans, as its name suggests, appears to benefit from a summer burn.  Its leaves are very common, and can grow up to a 5cm across (which is enormous for an Australian terrestrial orchid!).  They usually need fire to flower.

Pyrorchis nigricans

A typical flower after fire

After flowering, the whole plant turns black, hence its name, the black fire orchid.  This picture was taken in summer.

The Rabbit Ears Orchid, Leptoceras menziesii, seems to flower better after a fire.  Below is a lovely patch that my father found following an a fire.  Unfortunately I did not get to see the patch, and have only seen a couple of flowers at a time.

Leptoceras menziesii

One of my favourite orchids after flower would have to be the leek orchid, Prasophyllum elatum.  For this genus, generally the flowers and stems are green, but after fire, the flowers and stems turn black.  They look like black twigs sticking up out of the ground, so blend in quite well with their surroundings.

Without fire

Without fire

A lovely tall specimen

A lovely tall specimen in a burnt area

Striking colours after fire

Striking colours after fire

… and Dad, thanks for the pictures! 😉