Over the last week I have been frantically busy, and… well, wishing I had more time to go and hunt for some orchids. So today’s post is going to be rather informal! I do have some pictures to share with you, that were taken about this time of year, 15th May 2012. They are of the Mosquito Orchid (Acianthus pusillus). I have written about them before.
The flowers are very small, and the whole plant can stand up to 10 cm for a tall plant. However, most seem to be closer to 6 or 7 cm high. The following leaf shows the different growth stages. If there has not been rain for some time, it generally stays the same size, but after a downpour, the leaf expands.
I thought the follow picture was quite cute. It is so tiny, but as the buds open, it would probably become taller.
And here are some other, healthy specimens.
It is not uncommon, either to find fields of these orchids.
Enjoy your weekend, and hopefully I’ll see some orchids soon.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.