Tag Archives: orchid

100th post: Questions and Answers

Wow, 100 posts, and I was never keen on writing those English essays!  So as promised this post will be a Questions and Answer post, and thank you to everyone who submitted a questions.  They are good questions and I will try my best to answer them.

Do Australian Orchids have one season?

In Australia one or more orchid species will be flowering at any given time of the year.  Currently our summer orchids are in flower, although many of the summer orchids actually grow in swamps and thus are rare.

The moose orchid only grows in swamps in South Australia and flowers

The moose orchid only grows in swamps in South Australia and flowers between November to April

As I was curious as to the number of species flower per month, I took all the species that grow in South Australia and plotted them for each region.  In the northern parts of South Australia due to desert there are only one or two species present, which tend to flower in spring.  However in the southern, wetter regions, there is more likelihood of finding an orchid in flower any time of the year.  From the averages of all the regions it can be seen that the peak in the orchid season is at September to October (the beginning of Spring).

The number of species flowering per region

The number of species flowering per region – Click on image to enlarge

As a keen photographer, I would love to know – in a general sense – where you find a lot of your orchids?

Generally I don’t say where I find orchids partly because some of the sites that I visit are sensitive and it is not wise to have a large number of people visiting the locations.  Also with some of the rarer species, in particular the Duck Orchid, are prone to digging because people do not realize how difficult they are to grow.  No one, not even the experts have been able to grow it.  It is also illegal to take any plant (even picked flowers or capsules) from the wild without a licence.

The duck orchids can not be grown

The duck orchids can not be grown

However there are a lot of locations were you can find orchids.  Where there is native habitat in good condition, there should be orchids.  These include the Mt. Lofty Botanic Gardens (I was up there last Saturday and Dipodium are still flower – even some in bud!), Morialta Conservation Park (take the track on the left to the second falls as it has numerous winter/spring orchids growing along the edge), anywhere in Belair National Park which is a hive for orchids and actually has a few rarer species growing there.  There are many other locations in the Adelaide Hills where they can be found.  Pretty much it comes down to having quick eyes and knowing what habitat the different orchids like.  Anywhere where there are few weeds, there will generally be orchids growing.

A really good way to discover more locations and orchid species is to join an orchid club and go on an excursion with others.  I personally would recommend the Native Orchid Society of South Australia, but have I mentioned that I am their Assistant Editor?!

Arachnorchis tentaculata

The King Spider orchid – Arachnorchis tentaculata – found at Scott Creek Conservation Park

There has been a fire in the Belair National Park, is it likely that there will be a flush of orchids in the fire location come Winter/Spring?

Fire and orchids is such a complex topic.  For those who aren’t local there was a bush fire which occurred a couple of weeks ago in a national park pretty close to the city of Adelaide.  This coming season I would expect to see more orchids flower in that area, in particular the fire orchid.  I will be checking it out later this year to see what happens.  I’ve written about orchids and fire previously.

However there are long term effects of fire that are still being researched.  The following article is highly recommended reading:

Black Saturday Victoria 2009 – Natural values fire recovery program by Mike Duncan

Why some orchids have the trigger mechanism and some don’t?

What a lovely questions – I wish I knew the answer!  There are a number of species that have labellums that can move, from Pterostylis which flowers in the winter to the Duck Orchids which flower in late spring.  They all have different pollinators and the flowers look different.  The trigger mechanism is just one method for being pollinated.  Other orchids use different methods such as imitating a female insect or imitating another flower.  This article could be of interest:

Notes on the Anthecology of Pterostylis curta (Orchidaceae) by Peter Bernhardt

The labellum of the Bunochilus viriosous (also known as Pterostylis viriosous) can be triggered. Photographed in Hardy Scrub

The labellum of the Bunochilus viriosous (also known as Pterostylis viriosous) can be triggered.
Photographed in Hardy Scrub

What is the meaning of life?

The meaning of life is…             [unable to compute]

Thank you everyone for your questions.  I learnt a few things from writing this post and I hope you did to.  Orchids are so complex and amazing!

The pretender

Lobelia gibbosa – False Orchid

“It’s summer, and not a lot of orchids are about, but wait, who is that pretty blue flower over there?  Is it an orchid?  I’ve never seen it/read about this flower before.”

Lobelia gibbosa

It might be a pretty flower that is fairly easy to stumble across in the bush, but sadly it is not an orchid, and many have confused it as an orchid, thus enabling it to gain the name “False Orchid.”  It is not even a lily, but is in the family of Campanulaceae.  Since I do not know a lot of information about this plant, I’ve been doing some research and it is really a fascinating plant!

There are several reasons why it can never be an orchid.  It is an annual and orchids are not annuals.  Although the flower may look like it has five segments, it does not have the distinctive column found in all orchids.

DSC03004a (2)It generally has two to four purple/blue and sometimes white flowers that grow from a maroon coloured stem.  The flowers may have a stripe down the center of the petals.  Flowering begins in early summer.  Interestingly, at flowering time, the plant’s leaves have begun to die down.  The plant no longer depends on its roots for survival and can be uprooted and continue to grow.  Consequently it is one of the few flowers that can be found following a 40C heat wave!

It is a fairly widespread plant and can be found in all the states of Australia and even as far as New Zealand and South Africa.  It prefers a slightly open area for growth and seems to be able to cope with a variety of weather conditions.

So while it is not an orchid, or even a lily, enjoy it as it is quite a nice flower!

DSC03010a (2)

Know Them

Sources:

Archer, W. 2011. Esperance Wildflowers: Lobelia gibbosa – Tall Lobelia. [online] Available at: http://esperancewildflowers.blogspot.com.au/2011/02/lobelia-gibbosa-tall-lobelia.html [Accessed: Jan 2014].

Friends of Black Hill and Morialta Incorporated. 2013. Lobelia sp. in Black Hill, Morialta and Horsnell Gully Conservation Parks. [online] Available at: http://www.fobhm.org/noframes/lobelia.htm [Accessed: Jan 2014].

Some of my favourites

So I’m back!  I’ve enjoyed having a break from blogging while my non-orchid life has been busy and full of pleasant surprises.  Anyway it has been lovely to see that people are still looking at this blog, but I do feel a bit guilty for having not posted recently.  I’ve heard from others that they know someone who reads this, and I find that really nice to know that I make others happy by sharing orchids.  Please say “hi” and let me know where you are.  I would love to hear from you all.

So for today’s post, I’m just going to re-share a few of my favourite pictures from this year.  I did not get out as often as I would have liked, but I always looked forward to hunting for orchids.

Eriochilus cuculata (1)

First off we have Eriochilus cucullatus.  A friend told me about a lovely patch of Eriochilus cucullatus and gave me the coordinates to find the colony.  There were well over a hundred plants scattered across quite a distance.  I really like this pictures with the pollen sitting on the labellum.  I still don’t know how the pollen arrived there.

Fungi

In June, my digital camera tricked me into believing that it had stopped working which worked out very conveniently because I was able to upgrade to a digital SLR camera with multiple lenses.  It’s been great fun to learn to use it properly.

Pterostylis curta

The picture above was lots of fun to take.  The orchids are in a pot, and I set up the camera on the tripod, and zoomed in from a long way away.  The picture was actually taken indoors with the window to the front garden as the backdrop.  There was just enough afternoon sun to capture the golden colours.  This image has not been edited.

Arachnorchis rigida

I was really excited to see the Arachnorchis rigida this year, after not having seen it for awhile.  I love the crispness of the flowers.  At this point I had not learnt how to colour correct the camera so there is too much blue, but I think it kind of worked for this picture.

Arachnorchis tentaculata

Eventually I learnt how to colour correct.  The bush does have a beautiful golden colour which I feel has been captured in the above picture.  I did not realized that these two spider orchids had different coloured stems until I was looking through my pictures later.  I took this picture when I was planning to photograph a field of cockatoo orchids.  That day we were expecting a storm, and thankfully I was able to take my pictures before the wind had picked up and while the sun was still out!  Below are the cockatoo orchids.

Glossodia major

While the field was still spectacular, many of the flowers had already finished.  Maybe next year, I can catch them earlier.

Caleana major

Everyone’s favourite, the large duck orchid.

duck orchidThis year finished by seeing both the duck orchids.  These are always a favourite and every year I seem to forget that they are smaller than I think!  The whole flower of the small duck orchid would be less than 1.5cm high.  I particularly like how these two small duck orchids turned out.

Below is a gallery of other pictures that I enjoyed taking.

A beauty

A couple of posts ago, I mentioned that I wanted to see some Arachnorchis rigidaI was able to do this last week, and they looked as beautiful as ever.

Arachnorchis rigida

Arachnorchis rigida

These orchids are quite small as can be seen in this picture.  There were fourteen plants in flower with two in bud.

Arachnorchis rigida

There were quite a lot of other orchid species that I saw both in bud and in flower.  It was a very good site, and I am looking forward to heading back soon to get some more photographs.  Have a good weekend.

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

An Orchid Survey at Halbury

Today I took part in a survey of an endangered population of Oligochaetochilus lepidus (Halbury Greenhood).  The area had been surveyed three years previously and the first task today was to find and mark the 20 metre grid.  We then went through and marked all of the plants in flower with little coloured flags.  There were two other species.  Oligochaetochilus pusillus (Small Rusty-hood) was smaller and had blunt reddish tips on the sepals.  Oligochaetochilus aff. excelsa (Dryland Greenhood) had much larger rosettes, thicker stems and was only in early bud stage.  Oligochaetochilus lepidus was almost all out in flower and had distinctive thin tips to the sepals.

Oligochaetochilus lepidus

After lunch I found a path of Oligochaetochilus lepidus.  After marking all that I could find I thought I should count them.  There were 45 in an area little more than a metre square.

Oligochaetochilus lepidus

After an initial search, a final search was done in each quadrat.  Then all of the coloured flags were collected and counted and a figure recorded for each quadrat.  I expect the results will show that there were several hundred plants in this 3 hectare area of mallee remnant vegetation.

This was an example of a citizen science project led by a botanist with ten others involved.

While there I took an interest in the other orchids: there was a population of several flowering Arachnorchis tensa (Inland Green-comb Spider-orchid) and a couple of colonies of Diplodium robustum (Large Shell-orchid) with flowers almost all finished.  There was also a scattering of plants of one of the Hymenochilus muticus group; it appears to be Hymenochilus pisinnus (Tiny Shell Orchid).  There were two bright pink Petalochilus carneus (Pink Fingers) that I found late in the day before driving home for an hour and a half.

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.