Tag Archives: amazing

Mayfly Mystery

The Mayfly Orchid is a small orchid with very dark reddish brown flowers with long, hair-like sepals.  It flowers from late July to August.  One might question what sort of insect was behind the naming of this orchid, which does not even flower in May.  Mayflies are an insect with which many of us are not acquainted.

Nemacianthus caudatus

Close view of a typical flowering Mayfly Orchid

One source attributed the naming or the orchid being similar to the long legs of a Mayfly.  However, a quick search in the Internet revealed that Mayflies have fairly short legs, as in the image below:

It turns out that it is the appendages on the end of the abdomen that the sepals of the Mayfly Orchid resemble.  Mayflies usually have three tails (two cerci, one middle filament), although the middle tail is rarely reduced or absent.  All the tails are longer than the body, thread-like and similar in size.  Thus the three tails correspond with the three long sepals of the Mayfly Orchid flowers.

This is only half of the story; mayflies occur in swarms and these resemble colonies of Mayfly Orchids.

Nemacianthus caudatus

A colony of Mayfly Orchids in the Adelaide hills

Mayflies are a sign of summer in parts of the United States of America Source: http://www.severnsound.ca/SSEA_Mayflies.htm

Adult Mayflies are short-lived.  Most live for one or two days, but some for only a few minutes.  They form mating swarms.  Some swarms are quite impressive, even on Doppler weather radar.

So you may want to keep a lookout for colonies of Mayfly Orchids in August and see if you can imagine a swarm of insects with three long tails on their abdomens.

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Orchids in the City Part 1

Normally you would not expect to find orchids growing and thriving in the heart of the city.  The scene below does not very suggest that there is the right habitat for orchids, yet growing on the hill side are about ten to twenty different orchid species.  These orchids have been planted here.

Vale park

This is a small site in Vale Park, next to the Torrens River and just off Ascot Avenue.  It is a public site, with many cyclists and pedestrians passing it on a daily basis.  To cater for the public there are small paths that wander through the planting.

Vale Park Orchids

All the orchids are marked out with small signs which give tell the name of the plant and show the leaf and flower.  This made it very easy to find the orchids.  Surprisingly, not many of the orchids have been dug up.  This is because it is a public place, and the community wants to protect it.

When I visited the site yesterday, there were a few species in flower, and many in leaf or with buds.  There were a lot of Caladenia latifolia (white form – also known as pink fairies) in flower.  I only saw one plant which had the normal pink flowers, all the rest were white.

Another species that I saw was Pterostylis curta.  There were quite a lot of these orchids in flower as well.

Other species seen, included Diuris orientis, Diuris behrii and Diuris pardina, Glossodia major, Leptoceras menziesii which was in bud, Thelymitra pauciflora and Thelymitra antennifera, and Diplodium robustum.

What is unique about this site is that they have focused on restoring the under-story, which includes successfully establishing some native orchids which have been increasing in numbers.  Often it is very difficult to reintroduce orchids. However in this project, there was an existing woodland before planting.  One orchid was successfully pollinated within a week of planting, indicating that the correct pollinating wasp was present.

This project did have a few difficulties to overcome when it started, such workers inadvertently spraying the orchids, but now the weeding is left to the Vale Park Our Patch group.  There is another site at Gilbert Street, in North Adelaide, and I will leave that one for next week.

If you are interested in seeing this site, there will be an open day on the 14th September from 10am to 3pm.  It is on Ascot Avenue on the Vale Park side of the Torrens River.  It will be interesting seeing how this site develops over time.

New Orchid Video

So for something a bit different, I have a video for you to watch.  I’m hoping to do more like this, so let me know what you think and what you would want me to do in the future.

The longest part in making the video was learning to use the software, as I had not used that particular software before.

Orchids are amazing

I did not really need to tell you that, because you already knew it.  However, since I started OrchidNotes twitter account, @OrchidNotes, I’ve gained an appreciation of some of the other orchids which grow beyond the shores of Australia.  True, in Australia, we probably have the greatest diversity of orchids, with over 193 genera, over 1300 named species, with 95% being endemic to Australia.  82% of our orchids are terrestrial.  (Jones 2006, pp. 12-13)  So today, I’m going to do something that I have not done before, and share some pictures of orchids which I have never ever seen (but would like to see, maybe one day).

Monkey Face Orchid

The Monkey Face Orchid is so realistic, and I’ve seen so many pictures of this orchid.  It appears to have a lot of variation across the flowers.

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Bee Orchid

So there is the bee orchid, ophrys apifera.  I love the little smile that it has.  It grows in Europe.

File:Ophrys apifera (flower).jpg

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Lady Slipper’s Orchid

This is another European orchid.  It has quite spectacular colouring, especially captured by the sun light as seen in this picture below.

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The Flying Orchid

This flower actually has an intreging was of making sure it is pollinated.  See here for more information.

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Helmet Orchid

Many of our orchids are also found in New Zealand.  I found this rather cute picture of a helmet orchid.  None in Australia have antennae!

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Bearded Orchid

This is an Australian orchid, which I have not feature here much, sadly.  It is another incredible orchid.  I love the beard.

 calochilus robertsonii

Duck Orchid

Probably the most popular and amazing orchid in the world would be the Flying Duck Orchid, and I have seen this flower.  It is incredible.  This is the most popular orchid according to OrchidNotes stats.

Duck 2 copy

What is you favourite orchid?

References

Jones, D. 2006. Native Orchids of Australia; A Complete Guide to native orchids of Australia including the island territories. pp. 12-13.

Also, here is a link to an article showing some of the orchids from the world which look like animals and birds.

Amazing but scary

Some time back, on the 22 April, I wrote about the weedy orchid which grows in the Adelaide hills.  I included a picture of this weed which had been kept in a bag for over a week and the little shoots looked fairly healthy. I thought that was quite impressive that it had managed to live without water or sunlight, and now…

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It is nearly a month and a half since that weedy orchid was placed in a bag, and it is still alive! Wow! No water, no sunlight, just living on the energy that was stored in its tiny bulbs. That is amazing.

When I was first told that if one of these orchids was uprooted while in flower will continue to produce seeds, I was a bit sceptical. Surely no plant would be able to continue to grow when placed in a bag, but now I’ve changed my mind.

My understanding is that Disa bractreata is a desert plant from South Africa, and this would explain why it is so tough and hardy. It does not require much before it takes off and is all through a site. Interestingly I can’t recall seeing this weed in moist areas, but I could be wrong. I’ll be looking out for it to see if that is so.

In the meantime, this Disa bractreata can continue growing in its little plastic bag. I wonder how much energy is in those bulbs, and when will it start looking thirsty. This orchid is making me curious: I want to find out how tough it is, and what does it take to kill it, though this would be the only orchid I’d want to destroy. It is a pity that many of our native orchids are not very that tough, or maybe they are tougher than we think!

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