Spring is here, and this is such a wonderful time of the year to be out looking for orchids.
Every day there is something new to see, and so many places to explore. Many places are ablaze with colour—carpets of Wax-lip Orchids, Caladenia major, (formerly Glossodia major) in various shades of purple, and colourful spider orchids in amongst the many other flowering spring plants.
The most impressive sight so far this month are the 15+ brilliant blue Great Sun Orchids, Thelymitra aristata, rising above the surrounding heathland at Anglesea, their multiple flowerheads standing proudly along the edge of the coastal path.
Great Sun Orchid
Also, on the edge of the path we found tiny, dainty yellow Twisted Sun Orchids, T. flexuosa.
Twisted Sun Orchid
Throughout the area the bright yellow Rabbit-ears, T. antennifera, are flowering in profusion.
In the burnt area along Forest Rd near Gum Flat Rd the spider orchids are flowering; Small Spider Orchid, Caladenia parva, Thick-lip or Heart Spider Orchid, C. cardiochila, Plain-lip Spider Orchid, C. clavigera, the rare Southern Spider Orchid, C. australis, and the very impressive large White Spider Orchid, C. venusta, that is just starting to flower.
Large White Spider Orchid
The Thick-lip and the Plain-lip Spiders especially are putting on spectacular displays, appearing in unusually large groupings and variable in colour. Caladenia cardiochila is really liking this year’s weather with many colonies being observed on the sides of many of our heathland tracks. The Small Spider Orchid, Caladenia parva, has actually been seen flowering in large numbers on vacant blocks and nature strips within the Anglesea township. Also seen recently throughout the district are Pink Fingers, C. carnea, Dusky Fingers, C. fuscata, the larger White Fingers, C. catenata, Musky Caladenia, C. moschata (formally C. gracilis), and Pink Fairies, C. latifolia.
The Large Bearded Greenhood, Pterostylis unicornis, with its long, pointed hood is flowering well, though it’s difficult to see as it often merges into the surrounding vegetation.
Large Bearded Greenhood
There have been occasional Hare Orchid, Leptoceras menziesii, flowers amongst their large colonies of leaves and just a few flowering Redbeaks, Pyrorchis nigricans. There are still colonies of Mayfly Orchid, Acianthus caudatus, to be seen. Our endemic Angahook Caladenia, C. maritima, has started flowering but unfortunately, as mentioned last year, is hybridising with Pink Fingers.
In the last month we have seen the attractive Bluebeard Orchids, Pheladenia deformis, in recently burnt areas, though many less seen this year. An uncommon greenhood orchid found in the Coogoorah Park area is the Slender Greenhood, Pterostylis foliata. This greenhood has a loose rosette of leaves often held clear of the ground and also scattered up the stem.
Common Bird Orchid, Chiloglottis valida, is in bud, as are the Beard Orchids, Calochilus sp., and Donkey Orchid, Diuris orientis, with just a few opened flowers. There are leaves of a variety of sun orchids, leek orchids and others, so lots to look out for. Please take care as you walk as our terrestrial orchids are so precious and easily trampled on.
Please let us know of any of your orchids finds. They are all documented and photographed in Orchids of the Anglesea District available from ANGAIR.
Alison Watson and Margaret MacDonald
There are a number of wonderful local Friends Groups that provide ANGAIR members and the community with opportunities for involvement.