Tag Archives: October

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.

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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.

Striking colour

Diuris orientis – Wallflower Orchids or Bulldog

This is a very common donkey orchid, which is always a pleasure to find on a plesant spring day.

These orchids have very vivid colours making them easier to identify

It would have to be one of the most striking, , spring flowering orchids.  In a field of flowers they are quite spectacular, and will often be found with other spring flowering orchids including Diuris pardina (which it commonly hybridizes with), Glossodia major, and Thelymitra sp.  It flowers from September to November, and is found from Western Australia, right across the southern region of Australia to Victoria and Tasmania.

A healthy colony of plants

This orchid has been observed to grow in a variety of habitats and soil types.  It will regularly form colonies which can be very spectacular.

A yellow variety

There is a yellow variety of this orchid.  In South Australia this variation is not particularly common.  Contrastingly in the eastern states, they mainly have the yellow variety and less of the colourful variety that we have here.  Personally I like the colourful one better.  There is reasonable variety between the flowers with some have a deep maroon to vivid purple  and sometimes white on the labellum.

Know Them

Spring is here

It is the first day of spring, and so far the day has been very pleasant with the glorious sun out.  Spring is also the busy season for orchid lovers.  Although there will be orchids out most of the year, now is when the majority of them will be flowering.  Today, I’m including a couple of pictures for you to enjoy; pictures taken on glorious spring days.

Oligochaetochilus arenicola – Rufus hoods
I have written about this orchid before, and it will soon be flowering in the more arid parts of Australia.  It is a spectacular plant to see, and the leaves have been up now for some time.

Thelymitra – Sun Orchid
These flowers, particularly the blue ones, are deceptively hard to identify, opening only when it is warm enough.  Many of them look very similar, but they are rewarding to find on a warm spring day.

Diruis – Donkey Orchid
Another favourite, and a very beautiful flower.  In South Australia, ours are only yellow with some having red, but the eastern states have a pink donkey orchid.

Arachnorchis – Spider Orchid
A beautiful collection of flowers, which when ever I see them each year, I can’t help thinking that they look so much smaller then how they are portrayed in the pictures.

Calochilus – Bearded Orchid
I love the rough, straggly beard of this orchid.  It adds so much character to the flower.

Caleana – Duck Orchid
This would have to be one of the orchids that I really look forward to seeing, but it won’t be flowering until the end of spring.  The first few times I saw these orchids, it was wet and raining, but last year, the sun came out.

… so tiny…

A favourite

Pheladenia deformis – Blue Beard or Blue Fairy-orchid

For some reason, this orchid has never been very high on my list to look out for.  In a way, it could be described as my forgotten orchid, as often I totally forget it.  However, I’ve had several people say to me that this is their favourite orchid.  In one case, it was the orchid that fired a friend’s interest in orchids when she happened to stumble across a field of them.  It is a very beautiful flower, with such a vivid blue that can be seen quite a distance away.

What brought this orchid to my memory was that I recently found one.  It was an early flowering one, and growing all on its own.  It is also the only plant of this species that I have actually photographed and filmed.

The species is widespread, being across the southern band of Australia.  It flowers from July to October.  However the flowers will not last long once pollinated.  If only the pollen is removed and the plant is not pollinated the flowers can last for some time.  Additionally the flowering season is later for plants growing in higher altitudes.

The flowers of this species are know to vary from deep blue to white and grey.  On very rare occasions the flowers can be yellow.

Once, when I visited a site where there had been a summer fire, there were some clusters of these orchids flowers, which where very attractive and pretty.  The fire may have encourage them to flower but is not necessary for flowering.

Know Them

Small orchid

Linguella nana – Little Greenhood

Linguella nana refers to a complex of a possible six unnamed species.  For this post, I will be discussing Linguella sp. Hills nana.  The genus name describes it labellum which is hidden in the orchid.  Like many greenhoods, this genus used to be part of the Pterostylis family.

A colony of Linguella sp. Hills nana

This is probably one of the smallest green-hoods.  I’ve seen the whole plant with flower being less than ten cm high, and right next to it, a plant twice the height.  This can be seen in the video below.

These orchids tend to flower between July and October, and prefer growing in areas of high rainfall.  It is pollinated by a little fly, probably similar to the little fly on these Cyrtostylis robusta seen in this video.

One time when I went out looking for orchids, the bushland did not look particularly promising, and then I came across a couple of these tiny orchids.  They can be a pain to photograph, as the flower is about the size of your little finger nail, and quite often they grow in shaded areas, growing in the leaf litter under a tree.

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