Author Archives: Helen Lawrence

About Helen Lawrence

I live in Australia, and have many interest from being outdoors to classical music. I really enjoy photographing and looking for Australian orchids.

Parsons Bands Orchid – possibly a green form?

One orchid that is currently flowering is Eriochilus cucullatus also know as Parsons Band. Generally the flower is darker but here is a picture of an albino form.

Fifteen Acres

possibly-the-green-form-of parsons-bands-orchid If you’re an Orchid enthusiast I would appreciate some feedback on whether this is the green form of the Parsons Bands orchid..

We have quite a few Parsons Bands Orchids in flower at the moment, but this one stands out through the lack of pink or red.  Potentially it is a green form, as referenced on the Retired Aussies  website.  I have not found reference to this colour anywhere else.  So, if you have knowledge of this variation, I am keen to hear from you.

When I took this photograph I was photographing a number of other plants.  I only noticed the difference afterI loaded it onto the computer.  This means I have no idea where to search to find it again.  However, I will be on the lookout for another one.   The Retired Aussies website suggests it is rare, but it does not appear on the list of…

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Spiders

One aspect which makes orchid really appealing is their variety and beauty.  They are stunning pieces of artwork.  Here are some photographs of some of the spider orchids (Arachnorchis) that grow in South Australia.

The most common spider orchid is the King Spider Orchid, Arachnorchis tentaculata.  It is a stunning orchid, and one of the larger ones, being up to 10 cm across.

Arachnorchis tentaculata

Arachnorchis tentaculata

The Queen Spider orchid, Arachnorchis leptochila, is not as common in South Australia.  It is smaller than its sister, and has a more rigid flower.

Arachnorchis leptochila

Arachnorchis leptochila

There are many other spider orchids, but one of my favourite ones would have to be  Arachnorchis rigida.  It’s white petals are so crisp.  This is also quite a small flower.

Arachnorchis rigida

 

Why can’t I buy that pretty blue orchid? . . . or Purchasing Aussie terrestrial Orchids on the International Market

Many people ask me about growing terrestrial orchids. Here is a nice article written about an American’s experience growing some Australian terrestrial orchids.

NOSSA

When noticed, Australian orchids capture people’s imagination and many want to be able to grow them.  As a result we often receive request for where to purchase them, particularly from overseas.  For people overseas we are unable to help them.  Recently I came across some comments from Philip Shin and he has kindly written about his experience with trying to purchase orchids from Australia.  I trust that his experience will help our overseas people understand some of the issues involved.

So let’s hear what he has to say …..

It has been brought to my attention that there have been many requests from international buyers who wish to purchase Native Australian Terrestrial Orchids from Australia. To give you all a basic idea of who I am and why I’m writing this brief article, I will tell you a few things about me.

Firstly, I am an orchid hobbyist just like you…

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I’m alive

Yes, I am alive.  Unfortunately I’ve been very very busy over the last few months and have run out of time to post on OrchidNotes.  So today is a quick update.  Soon, I will try to post some pictures from early October, when the spring orchids were in full flower.  Here is a sample with a picture of Thelymitra grandiflora – one of the largest sun orchids.

Thelymitra grandiflora

Four years

So it has now been four years since I have been observing this patch of helmet orchids (Corysanthes diemenica).  The first time I saw it in 2011 was probably the best year.  This year was not brilliant but it looked fairly good.  2013 was probably when I saw the least number of orchids flowering.

Corysanthes diemenica in 2011

In 2011 I saw the most flowers in this patch.

Corysanthes diemenica

In 2012, there were not many flowers out and is probably the least number of flowers I’ve seen at this patch.

Corysanthes diemenica

In 2013, there were not many flowers but a lot of leaves were up.

Corysanthes diemenica

So 2014 put in a fairly decent display.  A lot of the plants that were up were flowering.

And here is a picture of the little helmet orchids (taken on my phone) when the sun decided to come out!

Corysanthes diemenica

Greenhoods

I haven’t written for a while due to a very busy schedule and unfortunately have not been able  to see many orchids.  It’s very nice to see that I’ve reached 400 followers – which is a lot of people – thank you!  Yesterday, if you were following me on Twitter (@OrchidNotes) it would have been pretty easy to see that I was out orchid hunting.  The major find was the Diplodium robustum.

Diplodium robustum

There was this lovely patch of orchids with over a couple hundre of orchids in flower and many more plants in leaf.  It was a very spectacular display.

Two flowers with the rest in the background

Two flowers with the rest in the background

A cluster of flowers

A cluster of flowers

A bud on the left and a flower on the right

A bud on the left and a flower on the right

Looking into the flower and being able to see the labellum and column

Looking into the flower and being able to see the labellum and column

All these pictures were taken on my phone (Samsung Galaxy S4).  When I arrived home all the pictures I had taken are automatically uploaded to Google Images.  What was a surprise was that Google went through my pictures and picked the following as my best pictures from the day and then edited them for me!

It was fun to get out and see these wonderful orchids.  Have you been seeing any orchids recently?

From the past – to the future

Recently I had the opportunity to participate in a tour of the State Herbarium of South Australia as part of the Open House Adelaide 2014.  Several years ago I had done volunteer work filing specimens away, so I was somewhat aware of how it runs.  However I did learn a few things from this experience.

Herbarium

The Herbarium lives in the first tram barn in Adelaide.

The herbarium houses over 1.2 million specimens, from species that have been collected within Australia as well as some specimens that are currently on loan from other herbariums in Australia and overseas.  There are also duplicate specimens from overseas in case they are lost in their country of origin.  These specimens are mounted on paper and stored in boxes within the vaults.

The important function of a herbarium is that they control the naming of new species.  In the collection there are type specimens.  These are the original specimen that was used for naming a species and thus will have all the distinctive features of that species.

Another aspect of the herbarium is that they contain specimens that are have been collected from over 200 years ago.  In a display cabinet, they had some specimens that were collected by Robert Brown who accompanied Matthew Flinders in 1802.  These specimens were then transported back to England before they finally make their way back home .  It is incredible that they are still around, because back in the 1800s herbariums did not exist as we know them now.  The amazing part of this is that the really old specimens don’t look that much older than the specimens that were collected within the last few years.

20140503_140820

Some original specimens collected in February and March of 1802

One of the problems that the herbariums face is a little beetle which seems to thrive on the dead plant specimens.  To prevent the spread of the beetle , the herbarium has in place some strict quarantine processes.  Before a specimen can enter the vault, it must be placed in the freezer for at least a week.  Also staff are encouraged not to take in any unnecessary items into the vaults.  This can make it quite a hassle when transporting plants between the herbariums.  To reduce this, they have recently established a database called Australia’s Virtual Herbarium with high resolution images of the type specimens that anyone can view.

When I was on the tour I asked if I could see the orchids which are kept in alcohol.  I was taken to a small room full of tiny little bottles with orchids.  They had lost their colouring but it was possible to see the 3d structure of the flowers – something that is lost in a pressed specimen.

Some of the orchids preserved in small bottles of alcohol

Some of the orchids preserved in small bottles of alcohol

Here is a comparison of the specimen in the herbarium and a species in the wild.  Most of these specimens were collected in the 1960s.

If you would like to know some more about the South Australian State Herbarium or some of their resources, check out the following links: