Summer is not the time to be overly enthused by our terrestrial orchids, but nevertheless, there are some attractive species that flower at this time of the year.
Of course the most obvious is Dipodium roseum Rosy Hyacinth Orchid, which is common and widespread in the district; specimens are often seen clustered around the bases of trees, where its thick fleshy roots enable it to make good contact with its associated mycorrhizal fungi that thrives in the extra leaf and bark litter.
The leafless plant has a thick, brownish stem, occasionally green, up to 90 cm tall, bearing numerous stalked flowers in varying shades of pink, with small darker spots. The labellum is also pink, with darker stripes. Hyacinth orchids are pollinated by small bees, and reproduce solely from seed dispersed as the large, swollen fruit capsules explode.
You may be lucky enough to stumble upon the second species of Hyacinth Orchid that grows in Anglesea–Aireys Inlet, Dipodium pardalinum White Hyacinth Orchid. Sometimes growing in close proximity to the Rosy Hyacinth Orchid, the White Hyacinth Orchid is only documented from a few sites in the district, where it indeed grows in very small numbers. The flowers are usually white, but may be very pale pink with distinct red spots. The labellum is also white with reddish spots – no stripes.
Orthoceras strictum Horned Orchids have been observed in a few sites over summer. The flowers are dull, varying from brownish-green to yellowish-green, with two stiff upright, but spreading, lateral sepals that resemble horns. The flower stem usually grows to about 60 cm, although some very impressive, taller specimens have been seen over the years. This distinctive orchid has several grass-like leaves. It is a self-pollinating species, and, similar to the Hyacinth Orchids, reproduces only from seed.
Other orchids that should be flowering at the present time are Cryptostylis subulata Large Tongue Orchid, Thynninorchis huntianus Elbow Orchids – for which, I have searched unsuccessfully in known sites – and Pterostylis atrans Dark-tipped Greenhood.
Hopefully the recent great summer rain may augur well for our autumn orchids.
Please share your orchid finds with us. As we have said, it does help to build up the bigger picture. Photos and descriptions of all the orchids that grow in the Anglesea district are documented in Orchids of the Anglesea District, available from ANGAIR.