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Lemon scented

Thelymitra antennifera – Rabbit Ears

The genus of sun orchids can be quite daunting to identify, but thankfully in South Australia Thelymitra antennifera is the most commonly encountered yellow sun orchid with its distinctive column.  It has two common names.  Rabbit ears describe the dark red “ears” that sit on top of the column.  The second name is Lemon Scented Sun orchid, which describes the soft scent emitted by these flowers.

Thelymitra antennifera

This sun orchid has thin grass like leaf with a dark purple base.  The plants quite commonly have several flowers on them.  The flowers are relatively large compared to the small, short stem that holds them.

The Rabbit Ears sun orchid can be found right across Australia from Western Australia into Victoria and Tasmania.  It tends to enjoy a slightly opened woodland, and can be often found on the top of ridges and further down in the valleys.  It is common, and has a long flowering range.  Depending on the region, it can be seen in flower from August to November on any warm day.

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Three years difference

In July 2011, I came across this amazing colony of Corysanthes dieminica (Helmet orchids.)  It was really exciting to find them, as I had not seen such a healthy colony before.  The picture below of the field of flowers is one of my favorite shots.

Corysanthes diemenica

In 2011

There were so many flowers.  It almost seemed that every plant that was up was flowering.  The total patch would be at least one metre wide, and nearly a metre and a half long.  It is sits between a path and a couple of Xanthorrhoea, under which there were a few flowers.

The whole patch

The whole patch in 2011

I find it interesting that all the flowers are facing one direction.  In this case it is towards the south.  Other smaller patches of Corysanthes diemenica have also faced mainly one direction, but not always to the south.

Another angle

Another angle again in 2011

So after finding something as good as this, I had to come back the next year.  In 2012, there weren’t nearly as many flowers or leaves up.  The picture below shows the most dense section in 2012, which is nothing compared to 2011.

Corysanthes diemenica

In 2012

This year there weren’t many flowers either.  Looking across the different pictures, it looks like there are more leaves up this year, with a couple of flowers.  However, I did notice that there were more flowers under the Xanthorrhoea, than I could remember previously.  I wonder what will happen next year.

Corysanthes diemenica

In 2013

The colouring of the helmet orchids are so beautiful.  The flowers are also partially transparent, and this makes them stunning to look at when the sunlight comes through the flower!

Corysanthese dieminica

There’s nothing like getting up nice and close

Click on any of the images to view them at a larger size.

Between the rain

Yesterday morning, I took the opportunity to go orchid hunting, as it will be raining for the next few days.  Fortunately while I was out there, the weather was rather forgiving, but there was a very light shower.  The birds seemed to be enjoying themselves, but were too fast for me to capture.

water

I really love it how these Linguella nana’s (syn. Pterostylis nana) are having a conversation.  They were the first flowers I found of this species, after having seen plenty of leaves and buds.

Linguella nana

I always find it interesting the height difference of Urochilus sanguineus (syn Pterostylis sanguinea).  I am fascinated by the height difference that can be found at one site, though the actual flower size is the same.  These look amazing with the sun coming through the flowers, but this time the sun was hiding.

Urochilus sanguineus

DSC00687

I also saw the Bunochilus viriosus (syn P. viriosa), which is often found growing along side the Urochilus sanguineus.

Bunochilus viriosous

Morialta’s July Orchids

Diplodium robustum

I’m still getting used to the new camera, but it is nice when the orchids decide to grow in a clump.  I always enjoy taking group pictures of orchids.  The picture above is of some Diplodium robustum also known as the Large Shell Orchid.  When identifying this species I get confused as it is not always clear with species is which.  So this next picture I’ll just leave as Diplodium sp., though it could be a D. robustum.

Diplodium sp

Below is a picture of a spider orchid leaf, most likely Arachnorchis tentaculata.  I love the texture from the water droplets caught on the hairs of the leaves.

Arachnorchis leaf

That is all for today.  Enjoy your weekend.

Orchids are amazing

I did not really need to tell you that, because you already knew it.  However, since I started OrchidNotes twitter account, @OrchidNotes, I’ve gained an appreciation of some of the other orchids which grow beyond the shores of Australia.  True, in Australia, we probably have the greatest diversity of orchids, with over 193 genera, over 1300 named species, with 95% being endemic to Australia.  82% of our orchids are terrestrial.  (Jones 2006, pp. 12-13)  So today, I’m going to do something that I have not done before, and share some pictures of orchids which I have never ever seen (but would like to see, maybe one day).

Monkey Face Orchid

The Monkey Face Orchid is so realistic, and I’ve seen so many pictures of this orchid.  It appears to have a lot of variation across the flowers.

Source

Source

Bee Orchid

So there is the bee orchid, ophrys apifera.  I love the little smile that it has.  It grows in Europe.

File:Ophrys apifera (flower).jpg

Source

Source

Lady Slipper’s Orchid

This is another European orchid.  It has quite spectacular colouring, especially captured by the sun light as seen in this picture below.

Source

Source

The Flying Orchid

This flower actually has an intreging was of making sure it is pollinated.  See here for more information.

Source

Helmet Orchid

Many of our orchids are also found in New Zealand.  I found this rather cute picture of a helmet orchid.  None in Australia have antennae!

Source

Bearded Orchid

This is an Australian orchid, which I have not feature here much, sadly.  It is another incredible orchid.  I love the beard.

 calochilus robertsonii

Duck Orchid

Probably the most popular and amazing orchid in the world would be the Flying Duck Orchid, and I have seen this flower.  It is incredible.  This is the most popular orchid according to OrchidNotes stats.

Duck 2 copy

What is you favourite orchid?

References

Jones, D. 2006. Native Orchids of Australia; A Complete Guide to native orchids of Australia including the island territories. pp. 12-13.

Also, here is a link to an article showing some of the orchids from the world which look like animals and birds.

The tiny Mosquito Orchid

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.

Acianthus pusillus

I thought the follow picture was quite cute.  It is so tiny, but as the buds open, it would probably become taller.

Acianthus pusillus

And here are some other, healthy specimens.

It is not uncommon, either to find fields of these orchids.

Acianthus pusillus

Enjoy your weekend, and hopefully I’ll see some orchids soon.

Small Wonder

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

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.

2009 036a

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 captual

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.

Corunastylis sp copy

Reference:
Bates, R. (2011) South Australia’s Native Orchids. Native Orchid Society of South Australia Inc, p.455.

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Nice and Early

Eriochilus cucullatus – Parson’s Bands

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.

Eriochilus cuculata (1)

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.

Eriochilus cuculata (19)

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.

Eriochilus cucullatus

Know Them

Lurking in the background

As of yet the weed orchid Disa bractreata has not featured on this site, even though it is the orchid I’ve seen the most this year. It is a terrestrial orchid from South Africa and colonizes very quickly.

83b Disa bracteata (17)

Many orchid enthusiasts try to dig them up. This is because their flower spikes produce thousands of very fine seeds that propagate very easily, and take over areas in a couple of years if not controlled. Understandably many try to remove them when on walks looking for native orchids.

So if you want to weed this plant, make sure you have the right plant. Remember that it is illegal to collect any part of any native orchid within Australia, so know what you are dealing with first. These plants are very tough, which is not surprising considering they are a desert plant. I’ve been told that a flower spikes will continue to produce seeds after being dug up. To give an example of how tough these plants are, some plants were up rooted one week ago, placed in a plastic bag and are still continuing to grow.

Disa bractreata

Orchids still growing after one week in a bag

If you do want to weed it, remember to remove the whole plant from the site including the tubers. From there it is best to place them is a plastic bag to cook in the sun.

Disa bractreata

I have not concerned myself about removing these plants as I suspect they may do some good, but it is only a personal theory at the moment that has not been tested yet.  There was a fairly weedy and disturbed site I know about. There were a couple of shrubs and mostly a lot of this weed. It was like this for some time, but over the last couple ofyears, there has been a rapid decrease in the number of weeds and all of a sudden there are lots of sun orchids, Thelymitra, growing there. Maybe the weedy orchids prepared the soil so that the native orchids could grow there. It would be interesting if research was conducted in this area. Have you ever had any experience with this orchid? I would love to hear about it.

Thelymitra sp

One of the Thelymitra that has appeared recently

Gold Hunting

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.

Corunastylis

Corunastylis

Corunastylis

Corunastylis

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.

Eriochilus cucullatus

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.