Category Archives: Thelymitra

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

Lemon scented

Thelymitra antennifera – Rabbit Ears

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.

Thelymitra antennifera

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.

Know Them

Orchids in the City Part 2

So today I got my hands dirty at the Vale Park open day.  (See here for Part 1)  I had the privilege of planting out some orchids, namely Thelymitra antennifera, also known as the Lemon Scented Orchid or the Rabbit ears sun orchid.  The orchids I planted were very young plants, only just beginning to grow.  They had been propagated from seeds, and grown in a flask.  Some were just tubers, while others did have some leaves just beginning to emerge.  Unfortunately, I forgot to photograph any before planting.  After we had finished planting, this is what they looked like.

Thelymitra antennifera plants

This species has nice yellow flowers, which gives of a soft lemon scent.  They only open when it is warm enough, as this is when the pollinators are about.

Thelymitra antennifera

A nice specimen of Thelymitra antennifera found in the wild

During the last fortnight, many of the Caladenia latifolia had been pollinated and were forming nice capsules.  This means there should be lots of seeds, and will help these orchids spread.

Caladenia latifolia

Some other orchids which had opened during the last fortnight included Diuris behrii and Diuris orientis.

Vale park is not the only place in Adelaide where orchids have been successfully introduced.  On Gilbert Street in North Adelaide there are some more Caladenia latifolia which are thriving.  This is a smaller site, and did not have as many species.

Caladenia latifolia

So I’ll finish today’s post with a picture that I took near these orchids, right in the centre of the city!

Adelaide Australia

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.

Lurking in the background

As of yet the weed orchid Disa bractreata has not featured on this site, even though it is the orchid I’ve seen the most this year. It is a terrestrial orchid from South Africa and colonizes very quickly.

83b Disa bracteata (17)

Many orchid enthusiasts try to dig them up. This is because their flower spikes produce thousands of very fine seeds that propagate very easily, and take over areas in a couple of years if not controlled. Understandably many try to remove them when on walks looking for native orchids.

So if you want to weed this plant, make sure you have the right plant. Remember that it is illegal to collect any part of any native orchid within Australia, so know what you are dealing with first. These plants are very tough, which is not surprising considering they are a desert plant. I’ve been told that a flower spikes will continue to produce seeds after being dug up. To give an example of how tough these plants are, some plants were up rooted one week ago, placed in a plastic bag and are still continuing to grow.

Disa bractreata

Orchids still growing after one week in a bag

If you do want to weed it, remember to remove the whole plant from the site including the tubers. From there it is best to place them is a plastic bag to cook in the sun.

Disa bractreata

I have not concerned myself about removing these plants as I suspect they may do some good, but it is only a personal theory at the moment that has not been tested yet.  There was a fairly weedy and disturbed site I know about. There were a couple of shrubs and mostly a lot of this weed. It was like this for some time, but over the last couple ofyears, there has been a rapid decrease in the number of weeds and all of a sudden there are lots of sun orchids, Thelymitra, growing there. Maybe the weedy orchids prepared the soil so that the native orchids could grow there. It would be interesting if research was conducted in this area. Have you ever had any experience with this orchid? I would love to hear about it.

Thelymitra sp

One of the Thelymitra that has appeared recently

Orchids and more

I’ve been fairly busy this past week so I have not had much time to prepare today’s post.  Consequently I will be just showing you a few pictures, again taken with my phone.  This was from a site in the Adelaide Hills which is actually currently for sale.  The site was of reasonable quality with not many weeds, and quite a few species of orchids.

Microtis arenicola – Notched Onion Orchid

Thelymitra juncifolia – Spotted Sun Orchid
Wanting a bit warmer day to open

Not an orchid, but a chocolate lily

This is not an orchid, but I’m sure someone from my audience can tell me what it is, but I think it is really pretty to look at.

A field of Bulbine lilies.

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.