Tag Archives: small flowers

The little hardy one

Acianthus pusillus – Mosquito Orchid

This orchid is so common, many orchid enthusiasts overlook it when on an orchid excursion.  It is small, difficult to photograph, and as it is very close to the ground, many don’t think it is worth the effort getting all the way down to photograph it.  It is a tough and hardy little plant.

Nemacianthus caudatus is a similar species but has longer sepals.

It is very small.  On a healthy flower stem of just over 10cm, it may have over 10 flowers.  The flowers are less than half a centimetre high.  Coupled with its size, and dark colour it is very difficult to photograph.  I’ve observed that photos taken with a flash make the stem and flowers appear a dark brown/red colour but without a flash it looks more purple.  It has a distinctive heart-shaped leaf which is purple underneath.  Its sister is Nemacianthus caudatus (Mayfly Orchid), which flowers after the Mosquito Orchid.

It does have a long flowering time from April to July.  This occurs if they are not pollinated.  The little pollinator is a small fly, which is difficult to find even on a large colony of plants.  However on some of these plants we had at home I notices some of these pollinators.

Like most orchids, the little mosquito orchid tends to grow in shady areas.  This orchid is often found near the bases of trees, in a moist little corner.  It does have a tendency to grow in colonies.

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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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