Tag Archives: March

Autumn orchid flowers

The orchid season has started – well actually it started last month.  I’m a bit late sharing these pictures with you, but they were taken on the 29th of March.

One of the first orchids to flower is Corunastylis sp. Adelaide Hills.  It has such tiny flowers with the whole plant often being less than 10 cm high.  This does make it quite challenging to photograph, but they are still very delightful plants.

Corunastylis sp. Adelaide Hills

From the picture you above, there is a small fly sitting on the top flower.  This is most likely the pollinator.  On a warm day there will be plenty of these little flies buzzing around the orchids.  This species does have quite a range of colour varieties.  Below is a yellow form.

Corunastylis sp. Adelaide Hills

Another species that is flowering at the moment is Eriochilus cucullatus.  This is also a very small orchid with the flower not being much larger than a thumb nail.

Eriochilus cucullatus

As we move into winter we will start to see more of the greenhoods in flower.

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Small Wonder

Corunastylis sp. Adelaide Hills – Midge Orchids

This genus would have to be one of the most frustrating orchids to identify (at least I think so), and when found in the wild only looks like a twig sticking out of the ground, but when looking at a picture is a surprisingly beautiful flower.  However Bates 2011 said, “Basically if one finds a woodland species in the Mount Lofty Ranges it will be this taxon,” so I guess it is not that hard to identify.

The variety of colourings

The variety of colourings

So it is the Corunastylis sp. (Adelaide Hills), an unobtrusive flower showing itself from late February to May.  The distinguishing feature of this orchid is its labellum which is so tiny, and so difficult to get under to see!  The whole plant stands under 10 cm, with many small brown and green flowers along the stem.  It is fairly widespread in South Australia, growing from Eyre Peninsula across to the Flinders Ranges, and down to the South East and Kangaroo Island.

2009 036a

Note: this is the Mt. Billy species

This orchid does have a leaf which wraps around the stem of the plant.  However it can be difficult to see.  The flowers are pollinated by a small little fly.  It is quite common to find the little pollinator sitting on the flower, with pollen on its back.

Mostly the orchid is found in sandy soil, or open areas.  Quite often it seems to enjoy living dangerously, growing in the middle of tracks and paths.

This genus is not just unique to Australia, as there are other species which can be found in New Caledonia and New Zealand.

A remaining captual

A remaining capsules

Often the finished capsules of the orchids can be found quite some time after flowering, right into spring.  The above picture shows that this plant was pollinated and has produced some swollen capsules.

Corunastylis sp copy

Reference:
Bates, R. (2011) South Australia’s Native Orchids. Native Orchid Society of South Australia Inc, p.455.

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Nice and Early

Eriochilus cucullatus – Parson’s Bands

The Parson’s Bands is a small white flower that appears from late March to May and is reasonably common.  The flowers always appear before the leaves, which can then last some time after flowering has finished.  The whole plant can stand up to fifteen cm high, and usually has one flower per stem, and on rarer occasion can have up to three flowers on one stem.  This orchid appears to like growing in small open places, including rocky places and old tracks.

Eriochilus cuculata (1)

Within the Eriochilus cucullatus species in South Australia there are several subspecies with Eriochilus sp Hills woodland being the most commonly found.  In Victoria only E. cucullatus exists, but there are several other species found in Western Australia.

Eriochilus cuculata (19)

This orchid is believed to be pollinated by a small native bee, which the orchid attracts through its flower’s colouring and scent.  The picture above shows some pollinia on the flower’s labellum.

After it flowers, or towards the end of flowering, the leaves of this orchid begin to appear.  They are a dark green-grey colouring, with a textured top.  If leaves are found at a site, it is probably a good idea to check these areas next autumn for any flowers.

Eriochilus cucullatus

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Gold Hunting

Last weekend, I visited some gold mines in the Adelaide Hills.  I was at a recreation park, and many visitors were there with pick and shovel, and a few even had fancy detectors.  Most did not appear to be very successful in finding gold, which is not surprising considering the site has had thousands of visitors over many years since the mines were closed.

Was I successful?

Well I didn’t find any gold, nor looked for any gold, but I did find some gems.  Yes, those wonderful little orchids are up and flowering already, although not many.  I found some Corunastylis sp. also known as the midge orchid.  These plants are so, so tiny, with the whole plant standing under ten centimetres or three inches,  The flowers can’t really be appreciated unless seen under a microscope, or in a picture.  Unfortunately my camera has been struggling a bit with focusing (and they are too small for my phone camera), so sorry for things being slightly blurry.

Corunastylis

Corunastylis

Corunastylis

Corunastylis

At another site I saw some Eriochilus cucullatus, Parson’s band.  Unfortunately they were not flowering at the time.  Again these plants are still very small, and it can make it very hard to find them.  They have a small white flower.

Eriochilus cucullatus

It wasn’t until I reached home that I realized I had photographed three plants at once (there are three in the picture!).  In this species the leaves do not emerge until after the flowers.

Swamp Orchid

Moose Orchid

So here I am doing it again, attempting to draw, and probably not doing justice to the flower.  The top of the flower is yellow, and then it reaches red towards the end of the flower.  I’ve tried to capture some of the veins in the flower as well as the overall feel of the flower.  Let me know what you think of it.

This is one of the more unusual orchids, and is known as the moose orchid.  In South Australia it is found only in swamps whereas in the eastern states it can be found outside of swamps in moist areas.  It is one of the few South Australian orchids with evergreen leaves.

Sand lover

Leporella fimbriata – Fringed Hare Orchid

A leaf of a Leporella fimbriata

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 in sandy soils.  This species like many of Australia’s orchids, is endemic to Australia, and can be found from the west to the east of the country, across the southern band of the continent.

Its Latin species name, fimbriata, refers to its fringed labellum, or the lip of the flower.  Its flower will appear before its leaves.  The leaves of this species are very distinct and beautiful, with vivid red stripes and red edging contrasted against a green with a hint of blue.  The leaves on there own are very spectacular.  The leaves are very stiff.

Upon seeing a photograph of these orchids, it is easy to be deceived by their size.  The height of a flower is just over 2cm, while the flower is only 1cm wide.  The whole flower would fit into a postage stamp! The flower stem will be between 15cm to 20cm tall, but less rain may cause it to be stunted.

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