Often overlooked because it is so common and so tiny, the Small Mosquito Orchid Acianthus pusillus, nevertheless, is well worth looking at, especially through a hand lens.

Small Mosquito Orchid

It is flowering in many places at the present time. The tiny, dark brown flowers resemble insects, and the flowering stem, that can grow up to 20 cm tall, usually bears more than five of these dainty flowers. The labellum is narrowly heart-shaped, with two basal nectar glands that secrete nectar into the labellum.

The Mosquito Orchid is colony forming, and large colonies of leaves can often be seen growing, camouflaged in leaf litter.

Mosquito Orchid colony

The heart-shaped leaves are dark green above and purple below, and are held several centimetres above the ground. Non-flowering plants produce large numbers of sterile leaves.

Mosquito Orchid with leaf

Another orchid that is flowering very well at the moment is the Banded Greenhood Pterostylis sanguinea.  Easily recognised because of its reddish-brown nodding flowers, it is a very attractive species.

Banded Greenhood flower group

The broad dark stripes on the flower confer the common name of banded, as well as the hood formed by the dorsal sepal and petals. The flat, downward pointing, lateral sepals are broad, red-brown, and almost form a circle in shape. They are a feature of the flower. The flowering plant does not have a rosette, but has up to ten, well-developed, spreading leaves on its flower stem which grows sometimes to 30 cm tall. Non-flowering plants produce a ground-hugging rosette of three to ten greyish-green leaves.

Banded Greenhood rosette

Some very nice specimens can be seen in the bushland area on the corner of Forest Road and Gum Flat Road.

There are many other species of orchids attracting our attention as we venture out into the field. Some are just finishing – some coming into bud, some just producing leaves. It is a great time to be exploring. Fringed Hare Orchids Leporella fimbriata have been flowering well, and there may still be some flowers in the Fraser Ave area at Anglesea. The Striped Greenhood Pterostylis striata is just starting to flower, and we would love to know if you see it anywhere in the district, as it is very rare in our area.

Photos and descriptions of all the orchids that grow in the Anglesea district are documented in Orchids of the Anglesea District available from ANGAIR.

Margaret MacDonald

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