Category Archives: June

Winter at Mt Crawford Forest

To those who have visited the Mt Crawford area from Adelaide are usually left with an impression of an area that is noticeably colder and wetter.  I have had the pleasure of working in the area in the last couple of months and this impression has been reinforced, especially after getting drenched in heavy rain at my last visit.

IMG_20140620_093746

I took a picture with my mobile telephone showing the mist around us as we worked.  We were above the cloud base on the edge of a sandstone ridge.  It is easy to keep warm climbing up and down a slope like this.  We were removing feral pines that originated from the adjacent commercial pine plantations and you may be able to see one lying on the left of this image.

Diplodium robustum (12)

On a sunnier day earlier in the month I found a pair of flowers of Diplodium robustum, the Large or Common Shell Orchid.  These were on the ridge next to the Heysen Trail.  These, I am told, are taller than usual for the species and resemble a form that occurs in areas of mallee.

Diplodium robustum (7)

From the back the flowers are strongly striped with green and white.  These flowers were facing south.  Elsewhere there was a colony of about 300 plants with over 30 in flower or bud; the majority of these faced up the slope.  This appears to be a strategy to make it more likely for the flowers to be visited by the insect pollinators.  The pollinators are small insects called fungus gnats, which look like small mosquitoes and don’t eat at all in their adult stage.  Only the males are pollinators and they need to be large enough to trigger the labellum inside the hood of the orchid.

Diplodium robustum (4)

At the base of the two flowers I found these little rosette.  This, surprisingly, is the same species.  This plant will not flower this year; it is preparing to flower in a future year.  There is a smaller flower in the lower left of this picture that I did not notice until I started writing this post.  It looks like a bud almost finished forming.

Wurmbea latifolia (1)

Orchids are not the only interesting flowers.  This is one of my favourite lilies – Wurmbea latifolia ssp. vanessae (Broad-leaf Nancy).  This is a female plant with the dark ovaries seen in the middle of the flower.  The flowers are white with rich, hot pink colours near the centre.  This was the first one I found on the 7th of June.  By the 20th they were easy to find.  I am told that the peak of flowering is mid-July and that earlier flowering this year is a result of climate change.

I am looking forward to visiting the area next weekend and taking more photographs, if the wintery weather lets us.

Three years difference

In July 2011, I came across this amazing colony of Corysanthes dieminica (Helmet orchids.)  It was really exciting to find them, as I had not seen such a healthy colony before.  The picture below of the field of flowers is one of my favorite shots.

Corysanthes diemenica

In 2011

There were so many flowers.  It almost seemed that every plant that was up was flowering.  The total patch would be at least one metre wide, and nearly a metre and a half long.  It is sits between a path and a couple of Xanthorrhoea, under which there were a few flowers.

The whole patch

The whole patch in 2011

I find it interesting that all the flowers are facing one direction.  In this case it is towards the south.  Other smaller patches of Corysanthes diemenica have also faced mainly one direction, but not always to the south.

Another angle

Another angle again in 2011

So after finding something as good as this, I had to come back the next year.  In 2012, there weren’t nearly as many flowers or leaves up.  The picture below shows the most dense section in 2012, which is nothing compared to 2011.

Corysanthes diemenica

In 2012

This year there weren’t many flowers either.  Looking across the different pictures, it looks like there are more leaves up this year, with a couple of flowers.  However, I did notice that there were more flowers under the Xanthorrhoea, than I could remember previously.  I wonder what will happen next year.

Corysanthes diemenica

In 2013

The colouring of the helmet orchids are so beautiful.  The flowers are also partially transparent, and this makes them stunning to look at when the sunlight comes through the flower!

Corysanthese dieminica

There’s nothing like getting up nice and close

Click on any of the images to view them at a larger size.

Camera dies…

Finally, I was able to go and hunt for some orchids.  But my camera died!

So my camera for taking macro photography thinks that everything is white.  Fortunately, Dad very kindly lent me his camera, thank you Dad!  So I was able to take some orchid pictures to share with you all.  I saw lots and lots of leaves.  There were so many.  It could be that this is going to be a good year for finding orchids.  We will have to wait to see how the year unfolds.  Some of the different leaves that I saw included Arachnorchis, Glossodia major, Bunochilus viriosous and Thelymitra.  Below is a very nice field of Nemacianthus caudatus.  This orchid will be flowering in the coming month.

Nemacianthus caudatus

I also checked out my favourite little spot of Corysanthes diemenica.  The leaves were emerging, and there were some tiny little buds beginning to appear.

Corysanthes diemenica

I was also able to find some orchids in flower.  There were quite a few plants of Urochilus sanguineus.  This species will continue flowering for several more months.  It has a relatively long flowering time.  I have written about this species previously for the Know Them series.  The flowers were lovely and fresh, and I believe this is when they have the best colouring.

Urochilus sanguineus

And the other orchid I saw in flower was the tiny Mosquito orchid, Acianthus pusillus.  This species also has a long flowering time, and will be finishing in August.

Acianthus pusillus

Some of these trees where covered in the fungi pictured below.  I thought it looked quite pretty.  Enjoy your long weekend!

Fungi

I want/need a new camera now!  I would prefer a digital SLR, any suggestions?

Ramblings and orchid pollen

Because I was not busy this week, I was really looking forward to looking for orchids today.  It has been some time since I’ve been able to look for orchids, so it seemed a good opportunity.  However it has been raining, which is wonderful for all the plants and orchids, I just didn’t get to look for them this week.

Rain

In my recent post, Nice and Early, I showed a picture of an Eriochilus cucullatus with some pollen on it labellum.  It is not very often that pollen is found on flowers, so this was a slightly unusual shot from that perspective.  In this case, it appears that the pollen was transferred to this plant, but was not placed on the right spot for pollination.

Eriochilus cuculata (1)

Some of the self-pollinating sun orchids, such as the one below from the Thelymitra pauciflora complex, will have a fine white powder over the flower which is its pollen.

Thelymitra sp

Here is a video showing how the pollen behaves when being transferred by a bee from plant to plant.

Orchid season taking off

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.

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November and December

January and February

and then it all starts over again.

For more pictures see here.

Robust

Bunochilus viriosus – Adelaide Hills banded Greenhood or Tall Greenhood

This orchid used to be part of the Pterostylis family, and is commonly found with Urochilus sanguenea.  Like U. sanguenea, the plant will produce either a flowering stem or a leaf.  This genus is fairly common with species been found right across Australia.  Interestingly nearly every state has some species which are endemic to their state.

Its name viriosus means it is strong or robust.  It is found from the Mount Lofty Ranges across to Eyre Peninsula, and it can have some variation.  It flowers between June and early September.

Generally these plants are have several flowers on a single stem.  The plants with the most flowers tend to be older plants, and would have not flowered the previous year.  A feature of these flowers is a labellum which, upon touch, will move upwards trapping the pollinator.  While the pollinator struggles to free itself from the orchid, it will pollinate the flower.

Similarly to U. sanguenea, this orchid will also produce short and tall plants at the same site.  It has been observed for this species to reach over a foot high.

Know Them

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.

Know Them