The genus of sun orchids can be quite daunting to identify, but thankfully in South Australia Thelymitra antennifera is the most commonly encountered yellow sun orchid with its distinctive column. It has two common names. Rabbit ears describe the dark red “ears” that sit on top of the column. The second name is Lemon Scented Sun orchid, which describes the soft scent emitted by these flowers.
This sun orchid has thin grass like leaf with a dark purple base. The plants quite commonly have several flowers on them. The flowers are relatively large compared to the small, short stem that holds them.
The Rabbit Ears sun orchid can be found right across Australia from Western Australia into Victoria and Tasmania. It tends to enjoy a slightly opened woodland, and can be often found on the top of ridges and further down in the valleys. It is common, and has a long flowering range. Depending on the region, it can be seen in flower from August to November on any warm day.
This little orchid is very similar to Acianthus pusillus but flowers in spring instead of autumn. It has similar heart-shaped leaves to Acianthus pusillus, but the flowers are very different. They are often found growing together.
The Mayfly orchid has graceful long sepals compared to a relatively small flower. The whole flower stalk is a dark red, which makes it a challenging subject to photograph in low light.
It is often found growing at the base of tress in the leaf litter, in small colonies. The flowers attracts its pollinator, a small gnat, by giving off a musty odour which we can also detect. Once pollinated, the ovaries (pictured left) swell with many tiny seeds within.
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.
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.
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…?
I love the soft pink on white. In the picture above it reminds me of icing.
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.
It is the beginning of autumn, and that means the orchids will start appearing again. True there were a few flowering over summer, but about now we begin to see the leaves of the winter flowering species and some spring flowering orchids, and occasionally we might find a few autumn flowering species.
So today, I’m going to give you a sample of some of the orchids you could find, each month, during this coming year.
Pheladenia deformis – Blue Beard or Blue Fairy-orchid
For some reason, this orchid has never been very high on my list to look out for. In a way, it could be described as my forgotten orchid, as often I totally forget it. However, I’ve had several people say to me that this is their favourite orchid. In one case, it was the orchid that fired a friend’s interest in orchids when she happened to stumble across a field of them. It is a very beautiful flower, with such a vivid blue that can be seen quite a distance away.
What brought this orchid to my memory was that I recently found one. It was an early flowering one, and growing all on its own. It is also the only plant of this species that I have actually photographed and filmed.
The species is widespread, being across the southern band of Australia. It flowers from July to October. However the flowers will not last long once pollinated. If only the pollen is removed and the plant is not pollinated the flowers can last for some time. Additionally the flowering season is later for plants growing in higher altitudes.
The flowers of this species are know to vary from deep blue to white and grey. On very rare occasions the flowers can be yellow.
Once, when I visited a site where there had been a summer fire, there were some clusters of these orchids flowers, which where very attractive and pretty. The fire may have encourage them to flower but is not necessary for flowering.
Linguella nana refers to a complex of a possible six unnamed species. For this post, I will be discussing Linguella sp. Hills nana. The genus name describes it labellum which is hidden in the orchid. Like many greenhoods, this genus used to be part of the Pterostylis family.
A colony of Linguella sp. Hills nana
This is probably one of the smallest green-hoods. I’ve seen the whole plant with flower being less than ten cm high, and right next to it, a plant twice the height. This can be seen in the video below.
These orchids tend to flower between July and October, and prefer growing in areas of high rainfall. It is pollinated by a little fly, probably similar to the little fly on these Cyrtostylis robustaseen in this video.
One time when I went out looking for orchids, the bushland did not look particularly promising, and then I came across a couple of these tiny orchids. They can be a pain to photograph, as the flower is about the size of your little finger nail, and quite often they grow in shaded areas, growing in the leaf litter under a tree.