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 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 – 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
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?!
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
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!