Tag Archives: flowering

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.

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.

Free Orchid walks


Thelymitra rubra ~Common Pink Sun Orchid

There will be two free guided walks to see orchids at the Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens in Adelaide.  These walks are led by the Native Orchid Society of South Australia and are a chance for the public to see some common orchids and get to know some other orchid lovers.  The walks are on:

  • Monday ~ 1 October 2012
  • Saturday ~ 27 October 2012

Walks start at 11am and are just over an hour in length and start at the Lower Carpark.  Please contact me if you are interested.


Click on pictures to enlarge.

All pictures were taken at the Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens.

Know Them

Know Them introduces you to a South Australia orchid every couple of weeks.  So far two posts have been published which are listed below.

Published

Acianthus pusillus – Mosquito Orchid

The little hardy one
This is the orchid that is so common, that many orchid enthusiast will overlook it when on an orchid excursion.  It is small, difficult to photograph, and as it is very close to the ground, many…

Leporella fimbriata – Fringed Hare Orchid

Sand lover
This common orchid is found in sandy soils flowering mainly from March to May.  However it can grow in gravelly soils, but requires fire to encourage flowering, where as colonies will flower readily…

Coming

Yet to come are the orchids pictured below, and more.  Please subscribe to receive updates when an new orchid is posted.

                                                                                         

What makes Australian Orchids Different

Most Australian orchids are terrestrial orchids, which means they grow in the ground.  This is different to the epiphytic orchids which grow in trees.  Structurally these two types of orchids are vastly different.

Epiphytice orchids are pseudo-bulbous  with leaves that last all the year around.  The new plant will grow off these pseudo-bulbs, complete with roots which are exposed to the air.

In contrast, terrestrial orchids can be likened to lilies.  They grow in the ground but unlike lilies many rely on fungi to survive.  They have a bulb or tuber under the ground.  Their leaves vary quite a lot.  However most of the leaves begin to appear around autumn or this time of year.  The flowering time is also variable, with orchids flowering in every month.  However, most of the orchids flower from early winter to the end of spring.

Cyrtostylis reniformis

Linguella nana

Terrestrial orchids reproduce in a variety of ways.  Most require a pollinator which can be a Australian bee (Not a European bee, as these actually destroy the flowers), wasps and sometimes ants.  A lot is still needs to be discovered about orchid pollinators.  Some orchids reproduce by producing a new tuber from their old one.  In these cases, they may not flower very often, but their leaves will be present.

Pterostylis nutans
Nodding Green-hood

What makes our Australian terrestrial orchids so special is their variety.  The common names of many or our orchids indicate the variety.  There are Donkey orchids, Flying Duck orchids, Moose orchids, Helmet orchids, Green hoods, Sun orchids, Onion orchids, Mosquito orchids, Cockatoo orchids, Hyacinth orchids, Spider orchids, Bearded orchids and more.

Our orchids are a barometer of the quality of the surrounding bushland (vegetation).  Though some can be cultivated it is difficult to re-establish, and in some cases impossible to replace orchids once lost.  Within in South Australia, most of the land around Adelaide has been cleared for housing, and within the surrounding Adelaide Hills many areas they are left have had weeds take over.  In the Adelaide region only 5% of original vegetation is left.  This figure is larger in the Eastern states as terrain is steeper and therefore harder to clear.

Diuris beiri
Cowslip Donkey Orchid

Orchids in Australia are protected under law.  This means that no part of the flower can be taken.  This includes the flower, seed pod, leaves and tubers.  The key example of an orchid being collected too much is the Cowslip Donkey Orchid.  This orchid used to be very common, and people would collect baskets of them.  Now they are endangered, and I’ve never seen more than a dozen plants at once.

However orchids can be enjoyed by photographing them.  After the flowers have finished, I return to pictures and remember the enjoyment of a day looking for and photographing these unique flowers.