Category Archives: major

Ducks

Currently there is not a lot happening in the orchid world.  So today’s post is all about duck orchids.

As I had a bit more spare time over the last couple of months, I decided to try and capture the beauty of the Small Duck orchid in a pencil drawing.  The flower would easily fit inside a thumb, so my drawing is substantially larger than the actual orchid.   I did draw from a photograph that I had taken.

There is somethings so beautiful when you meet someone who is truly excited about learning.  And what’s more a teacher learns from their students.  Recently at an orchid society meeting, one of the members was very excitedly telling me about recently seeing the duck orchids and discovering how the flowers behaved and were pollinated.

I was able to point out that the duck orchid actually has a sensitive labellum, a feature that is common is several species of Pterostylis and in Bunochilus, Urochilus and OligochaetochilusThe ‘head’ of the duck orchid flips down into the ‘body’ of the flower trapping any pollinator.  This can be seen in the centre right picture.  However I had never really thought about where the pollen of the flower is, until the member asked me about a yellow spot on all his photographs!  The pollen sits at the base of the body which means the pollinator has to pass over it to escape out of the orchid and thus pollinates the orchids.  It can be seen on the duck on the far left.

Some of my favourites

So I’m back!  I’ve enjoyed having a break from blogging while my non-orchid life has been busy and full of pleasant surprises.  Anyway it has been lovely to see that people are still looking at this blog, but I do feel a bit guilty for having not posted recently.  I’ve heard from others that they know someone who reads this, and I find that really nice to know that I make others happy by sharing orchids.  Please say “hi” and let me know where you are.  I would love to hear from you all.

So for today’s post, I’m just going to re-share a few of my favourite pictures from this year.  I did not get out as often as I would have liked, but I always looked forward to hunting for orchids.

Eriochilus cuculata (1)

First off we have Eriochilus cucullatus.  A friend told me about a lovely patch of Eriochilus cucullatus and gave me the coordinates to find the colony.  There were well over a hundred plants scattered across quite a distance.  I really like this pictures with the pollen sitting on the labellum.  I still don’t know how the pollen arrived there.

Fungi

In June, my digital camera tricked me into believing that it had stopped working which worked out very conveniently because I was able to upgrade to a digital SLR camera with multiple lenses.  It’s been great fun to learn to use it properly.

Pterostylis curta

The picture above was lots of fun to take.  The orchids are in a pot, and I set up the camera on the tripod, and zoomed in from a long way away.  The picture was actually taken indoors with the window to the front garden as the backdrop.  There was just enough afternoon sun to capture the golden colours.  This image has not been edited.

Arachnorchis rigida

I was really excited to see the Arachnorchis rigida this year, after not having seen it for awhile.  I love the crispness of the flowers.  At this point I had not learnt how to colour correct the camera so there is too much blue, but I think it kind of worked for this picture.

Arachnorchis tentaculata

Eventually I learnt how to colour correct.  The bush does have a beautiful golden colour which I feel has been captured in the above picture.  I did not realized that these two spider orchids had different coloured stems until I was looking through my pictures later.  I took this picture when I was planning to photograph a field of cockatoo orchids.  That day we were expecting a storm, and thankfully I was able to take my pictures before the wind had picked up and while the sun was still out!  Below are the cockatoo orchids.

Glossodia major

While the field was still spectacular, many of the flowers had already finished.  Maybe next year, I can catch them earlier.

Caleana major

Everyone’s favourite, the large duck orchid.

duck orchidThis year finished by seeing both the duck orchids.  These are always a favourite and every year I seem to forget that they are smaller than I think!  The whole flower of the small duck orchid would be less than 1.5cm high.  I particularly like how these two small duck orchids turned out.

Below is a gallery of other pictures that I enjoyed taking.

Nice and Close

Its nice that I am discovering more features on the new camera, or rather my very kind brother is showing me them as he finds them.  Anyway, three weeks ago when I photographed the Arachnorchis rigida, I felt that the pictures had way to much blue in them.  Since then, I learnt how to adjust the white balance, and so now the pictures are closer to the true colours.

Arachnorchis tentaculata

I love this picture of these two spider orchids, Arachnorchis tentaculata, which are hugging each other.  I did not realize that they had two different stem colours, until I looked at the photograph.  Interestingly, the digital camera did not show this as vividly.  Below is another view of the same two orchids.

Arachnorchis tentaculata Another orchid that I saw recently was of the Purple Cockatoo Orchid, Glossodia major.  There was a lovely patch of well over a hundred plants.  I had first found this patch while all the orchids were in bud, but when I went back two weeks later, more than half had finished flowering.  This species has a lot of diversification in colour from a deep purple right through to pure white.

Glossodia major

Glossodia major

Enjoy your weekend!

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?

Orchids in the Technological Age

In the last few years, we have seen some incredible developments in technology, particularly with electronics and multi-media devices.  For instant, walk down a street, and how many people will you see either listening to music from on ipod, or looking down at their smart phone.  How many of you are reading this on a phone?  So there have been some massive changes, and these can be used to help us appreciate orchids, either through photography or identification.

There are plenty of advantages coming from this technological development.  I’ve seen people ask the identification of some orchid they found, and instead of printing the photograph, they just leave it on their tablet or phone.  It certainly saves on paper.  Another outcome is that field guides, or apps for identification can be on you phone or tablet, so instead of carrying around a library of books, you only need to take a phone.  At present, I have four orchid books on my phone, and can check the identification and know straight away what I have found!  I think it is great.

Glossodia major ~ Purple Cockatoo Orchid

I have been amazed at the quality of the pictures that my phone takes.  For those wondering, my phone is the Samsung Galaxy S2, and it has an eight megapixel camera.  I still have to coax it to get the macro shots in focus, but I tend to use my hand to focus, and  then remove my hand away when I take the picture.  However I still have to do that with my compact digital.  Since I bought my phone, I’ve found myself using it as my primary camera, partly because it is so much easier to see the phone screen in the sunlight than my camera screen.

Arachnorchis tentaculata ~ King Spider Orchid

Now, the smart phones also come with GPS.  I have not experimented much with this, but I suspect it may not be as good as some of the GPSs that are on the market.  This is probably an area that still needs to be worked on, but there’s potential.

Petochilus carnea ~ Pink Fingers

You might be interested that all the pictures on this post were taken with my phone.  None of the pictures have been edited.  I still take out the compact digital camera if I am planning to video orchids (phone tends to focus on background rather than flower when filming) or if I need to use optical zoom.

Orchids of the Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens

Australia is a rich resource for orchids, especially terrestrial orchids which make up 82 percent of all the Australian orchids.  Terrestrial Orchids are found, mainly below the tropics in grasslands, heath lands, and eucalyptus forests.  Many are deciduous coming up in autumn/winter, flowering in winter/spring and dying down in summer.  Most rely on fungi to survive, and for germinated to occur.

What makes an orchid?

Orchids are always made up of five main segments: a labellum, column, two sepals and a dorsal sepal and two petals.

How do orchids reproduce?

Most orchids need to be pollinated by native bees, wasps and sometimes ants.  The introduced European Bee, because of its size, does not pollinate the flower, but can instead damage or destroy it.  Some orchids do not require a pollinator and are thus called self pollinating.

Orchids in South Australia

There are many different orchids; in fact, South Australia is home to over three hundred different species, some of which are yet to be described.  The Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens yields a variety of orchids, which will be covered in this leaflet.

Arachnorchis tentaculata King Spider Orchid

This species is relatively common in the Mt. Lofty Ranges, with flowers reaching ten centimetres across.  It can easily be distinguished by clubs on the end of its petals and sepals.

Diuris pardina Spotted Donkey Orchid

This attractive flower is distinguished by the spots on its sepals and labellum.  It received its common name as its petals reminded the English settlers of donkey ears.

Diuris orientis Wallflower Donkey Orchid

This distinctive orchid can be distinguished by its bright colours and particularly its labellum, which can be a shade of deep purple.  This species is also referred to as the Bulldog Orchid.

Diuris orientis x pardina Pioneer Donkey Orchid

It is not unusual to find hybrids of the donkey orchid.  It is often between these two species and can sometimes be difficult to distinguish from Diuris pardina.

Glossodia major Cockatoo Orchid

This purple flower is often found in fields, and is very common in the Mount Lofty Ranges.  It does vary in colour from purple to a pure white, with the different varieties growing together.

Pterostylis pedunculata Greenhood

This winter flowering orchid is often found in dense colonies which can number over a hundred plants.  It can be found in early spring in the Mt. Lofty Botanic Gardens.

Microtis arenaria Onion Orchid

This green flower breaks out of its cylindrical leaf.  Many people find the Microtis family difficult to identify due to its minute size.

Thelymitra rubra Sun Orchid

This pink sun orchid is one of three pink sun orchids.  It can be distinguished by the tufts on the top of the column.  It opens freely on warm days, when the temperature is over 25 degrees centigrade.

Thelymitra brevifolia Pepper Top Sun Orchid

This sun orchid has a distinctive red top on its column.  It can also be distinguished by red edges on its short broad leaf.  Its flower is smaller than Thelymitra rubra.

Thelymitra parviflora Sun Orchid

This common sun orchid has a blue flower and can be confused with a number of other blue sun orchids.  Like all sun orchids, it only opens on warm days, as this is when the pollinators are present.

There are many other types of orchids not considered in this leaflet.  However some field guides on orchids will enable identification of orchids which can be found in other parks and reserves around Adelaide or beyond.

Protecting Orchids

It is always a pleasure to find orchids but they do need to be protected and conserved.  Orchids can easily be eliminated by weeds which choke them.  Consequently, if orchids are found, it is an indication that the surrounding bush is good quality.  It is also important not to pick orchids.  Not only is it illegal, but orchids need their flowers to reproduce.

This is from a leaflet about the common orchids in the Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens.  For the printable version, see here.