It is just amazing how quickly the orchid scene changes from month to month and while many of the species we highlighted in last month’s newsletter are still flowering, we have been pleased to welcome some more species that have appeared in the last few weeks.

The Banded Greenhood, Pterostylis sanguinea, is the most widespread of these species appearing in large numbers in the heath and heathy woodland. Its distinctive red-brown colour and unique shape make it a very recognisable species.

Banded Greenhood
Banded Greenhood

The flat, downward pointing lateral sepals, that almost form a circle in shape, are a feature of this orchid. The small, oblong labellum lies flat on the lateral sepals when set, and is triggered upwards if touched by an insect, trapping it inside the hood and against the column.

Banded Greenhood closeup
Banded Greenhood closeup

The insect must then crawl up past the stigma and pollinia to escape, assisting in the pollination of the species. The flower stem has well-developed spreading leaves but no rosette. The leafy rosette appears on non-flowering plants only.

Rosette
Rosette

The Striped Greenhood, Pterostylis striata, that is extremely rare in our district, is flowering at the present time. We watched it appear and flower within seven days! It also has leaves up the stem, and again the leafy rosette appears on non-flowering plants only. The single flower has prominent dark green stripes and the hood ends in a sharp point. The lateral sepals are tall and curve forwards.

Striped Greenhood
Striped Greenhood 

The first of our helmet orchids to appear each year, the Small Helmet Orchid, Corybas unguiculatus, has just started flowering. This tiny orchid with its reddish – purple flowers has a heart-shaped, grey-green leaf, either green or purple below just to cause confusion with the leaf of the Small Mosquito Orchid, Acianthus pusillus.

Small Helmet Orchid
Small Helmet Orchid

However the leaf of the Small Helmet Orchid is ground-hugging, while the Mosquito Orchid leaf is usually held just above the ground. We will be looking forward to welcoming other species of helmet orchids that grow in the district during the next few months.

There are other species to look for at this time of the year including of course our familiar Nodding Greenhood, Pterostylis nutans, and gnat orchids both Cyrtostylis reniformis and C. robusta.

Nodding Greenhood
Nodding Greenhood

Tall Greenhoods, Pterostylis melagramma, are in good bud, and many leaves of sun orchids, Thelymitra sp. and other genera are appearing throughout the district giving promise of a good spring flowering season.

Photos and descriptions of all our orchids are found in Orchids of the Anglesea District available from ANGAIR.

Please let us know of your discoveries.

Margaret MacDonald

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