Corunastylis sp. Adelaide Hills – Midge Orchids
This genus would have to be one of the most frustrating orchids to identify (at least I think so), and when found in the wild only looks like a twig sticking out of the ground, but when looking at a picture is a surprisingly beautiful flower. However Bates 2011 said, “Basically if one finds a woodland species in the Mount Lofty Ranges it will be this taxon,” so I guess it is not that hard to identify.
The variety of colourings
So it is the Corunastylis sp. (Adelaide Hills), an unobtrusive flower showing itself from late February to May. The distinguishing feature of this orchid is its labellum which is so tiny, and so difficult to get under to see! The whole plant stands under 10 cm, with many small brown and green flowers along the stem. It is fairly widespread in South Australia, growing from Eyre Peninsula across to the Flinders Ranges, and down to the South East and Kangaroo Island.
Note: this is the Mt. Billy species
This orchid does have a leaf which wraps around the stem of the plant. However it can be difficult to see. The flowers are pollinated by a small little fly. It is quite common to find the little pollinator sitting on the flower, with pollen on its back.
Mostly the orchid is found in sandy soil, or open areas. Quite often it seems to enjoy living dangerously, growing in the middle of tracks and paths.
This genus is not just unique to Australia, as there are other species which can be found in New Caledonia and New Zealand.
A remaining capsules
Often the finished capsules of the orchids can be found quite some time after flowering, right into spring. The above picture shows that this plant was pollinated and has produced some swollen capsules.
Bates, R. (2011) South Australia’s Native Orchids. Native Orchid Society of South Australia Inc, p.455.