It is exciting to report that the first of the Helmet Orchids in our district is now flowering. The Small Helmet Orchid, Corybas unguiculatus, is tiny and just starting to appear at Moggs Creek in an open treed area.
Small Helmet Orchid
The area has been slashed heavily in recent years, leaving open spaces for these tiny orchids to appear. This year the mulch is much thicker, and the small plants are having trouble reaching through to the light. They are also in other woodland areas so keep a lookout on your walks. The Small Helmet Orchid forms small colonies and is uncommon. The dark maroon flower sits on the heart shaped green leaf, either green or purple underneath, with the dorsal sepal hooded over the tubular labellum but not covering the broad labellum tip. It is thought to be pollinated by fungus gnats which enter through an opening at the base of the labellum called an auricle.
The similar Swamp Helmet Orchid, C. fordhamii, is seen usually after fire flowering in dense swampy areas under Scented Paperbark, Melaleuca squarrosa. The dorsal sepal of this species is also hooded over the striped labellum but extends beyond the labellum tip. It is a very rare species that is seldom seen—usually flowering in September or October.
Swamp Helmet Orchid
Our other two Helmet Orchid species Veined Helmet Orchid, C. diemenicus, and the Slaty Helmet Orchid, C. incurvus, are in bud.
The Trim Greenhood, Pterostylis concinna, is flowering well in a number of areas. This is a solitary, small white and dark green orchid with brown colouring. The deeply notched, dark brown labellum is just visible from the front.
There are some good specimens of Tall Greenhoods, P. melagramma, appearing and the first Nodding Greenhoods, P. nutans, are flowering now too.
Rosettes of other greenhoods are also appearing: Blunt Greenhoods, P.curta, Dwarf Greenhoods, P. nana, and Large Bearded Greenhoods, P. unicornis. There are still some very nice specimens of the Banded Greenhood, P. sanguinea, to be found.
There are large colonies of Gnat Orchid, Cyrtostylis reniformis, leaves in many areas, with tiny buds. The leaves are similar to some of the Helmet Orchid leaves but are more veined. At Point Roadknight, the Large Gnats, C. robusta, are appearing amongst the moss under the Moonahs.
There are late sightings of Midge Orchids in many places not normally seen—such as O’Donohue’s open grassland and also Ridgeview track, Anglesea.
The hairy leaves of the Spider Orchids are emerging, and other leaves seen include Leeks, Sun Orchids, Redbeaks and Waxlips. An interesting find at Moggs Creek is the appearance of the leathery leaves of the Large Tongue Orchid, Cryptostylis subulata. The leaves have been seen previously in this area though they have not produced flowers. It will be interesting to see if they flower this year. They have been seen flowering in close proximity. This orchid usually grows in peaty, damp areas but can appear in drier areas.
Please let us know of your orchid discoveries. All our known orchids are documented and photographed in Orchids of the Anglesea District available from ANGAIR.
There are a number of wonderful local Friends Groups that provide ANGAIR members and the community with opportunities for involvement.