This month the Mosquito Orchids, Acianthus pusillus, are appearing in many places with their heart shaped leaves and small mosquito-like flowers. They are pollinated by gnats visiting the flowers for nectar that is secreted into a depression at the base of the labellum.
The arched column bends over the nectar pool bringing the pollinia in contact with the insect as it feeds. These orchids form replacement tubers, with most producing additional tubers, which together with seed enable the species to produce extensive colonies.
Some lovely Banded Greenhoods, Pterostylis sanguinea, are flowering already. They can grow up to 35 cm tall and have up to 10 large leaves on the stem and one to 10 flowers. The flowering plant does not have a rosette. The reddish-brown flowers are conspicuous amongst the grasses.
Our patch of Striped Greenhoods, P. striata, on the Anglesea heathlands has just begun to flower. These orchids can grow up to 25 cm tall and the stem is also leafy with 4 to 10 leaves. They have no basal rosette but non-flowering plants will produce leafy rosettes.
We are thrilled to see that the colony is expanding. While it is widespread and common in many areas of Victoria, this is our only known colony in Anglesea. Some of these orchids are found on private land in Aireys Inlet.
There are some lovely late flowering Fringed Hare Orchids, Leporella fimbriata, to be seen at Fraser Ave probably due to the recent burn. In other places the red veined leaves are appearing. A visit to the former Alcoa mine site to see the revegetation showed us a diverse collection of interesting local plants but there were no Fringed Hare Orchids or any other orchids that we saw in that visit. Perhaps next year.
Brown-tipped Greenhood, Pterostylis clivosa, and Tiny Greenhood, P. parviflora, with their inward facing flowers are continuing to flower well. It was disappointing that Autumn Bird Orchids, Chiloglottis curviclavia (previously known as C. reflexa), produced very few flowers this year.
Leaves to be seen now include Gnat Orchid, Spider Orchid, Nodding and Trim Greenhoods, Sun Orchids, Waxlips and Redbeaks. Leaves of the first of the Helmet Orchids, the Small Helmet Orchid, Corybas unguiculatus, should be appearing soon. They usually flower in June.
Leaves of Gnat orchids with tiny buds
We were pleased to share many of our orchids with members of Vic ANOS (Australasian Native Orchid Society) and ANOS Geelong Group who visited Anglesea for a field trip on Sunday, May 16.
Alison Watson/Margaret MacDonald
There are a number of wonderful local Friends Groups that provide ANGAIR members and the community with opportunities for involvement.