It has been an amazing few weeks in the orchid field, with the promise of so much to come if the weather conditions remain favourable.
It is exciting to report that the first three spider orchid species for the season are now in flower.
On 11 August it was a delight to find Thick-lip/Heart Spider Orchid, Caladenia cardiochila, and then Red -lipped Spider Orchid, C. oenochila, in flower.
The Thick-lip has a heart-shaped labellum with a raised cluster of crowded calli.
Thick-lip Spider Orchid
The Red-lipped Spiders are described as having pale greenish-yellow flowers with a red labellum, but some of these were almost all red—creating a beautiful display, with many buds still to open.
Red-lipped Spider Orchid
The Small Spider Orchid, Caladenia parva, was not to be outdone and this small pale-flowered greencomb spider is now appearing in various areas.
Small Spider Orchid
The Great Otway National Park at O’Donohue Rd is once again an amazing wonderland of early spring flowers and orchids. On the corner, Leopold Orchids, Diuris pardina, are putting on their usual profuse display of bright yellow flowers. The distinguishing feature is the dark spots particularly on the back of the stalked petals, as well as on the labellum and labellum lobes. These orchids have also been observed alongside many of our walking tracks.
The Slaty Helmet Orchids, Corybas incurvus, are still flowering well at various sites with colonies producing many flowers, unlike last year’s low numbers.
Other orchids that have been flowering for a few months now include the Dwarf Greenhood, Pterostylis nana, the Trim Greenhood, Pterostylis concinna, and the Gnat Orchid, Cyrtostylis reniformis. Tall Greenhoods, Pterostylis melagramma, Mayfly Orchids, Acianthus caudatus, and Maroonhoods, P. pedunculata, have also started flowering and can be observed in many areas.
The attractive Blunt Greenhood, P. curta, is flowering well at Aireys Inlet. This is a large flowered greenhood with the unusual feature of the labellum twisted to one side.
A special orchid not seen for a while is the Large Pointed Greenhood, Pterostylis x ingens. It is a hybrid between Nodding Greenhood, P. nutans, and Sickle Greenhood, P. falcata, although the Sickle is not usually flowering until later in October. We were pleasantly surprised to discover this orchid while photographing Nodding Greenhoods and suddenly noticing a taller stronger flower with upright sepals and realized we had something different. A few days later, in a mass of beautiful Nodding Greenhoods, we found a few more Large Pointed Greenhoods. A Sickle Greenhood is found a few kms away but perhaps there are more of these orchids around the area.
Large Pointed Greenhood
The most exciting find has been the Winter Sun Orchid, Thelymitra hiemalis. These are not found very often and are probably promoted by bushfires. So this one was in the right place—the area being burnt in 2018. It had a flower that must have opened a day or two before being found and two buds. The flower will open for a short time and doesn’t depend on sunlight like other sun orchids. The sepals are greenish, and the petals and labellum are lavender with a few dark spots. This rare orchid is listed under the FFGA. Unfortunately, our specimen was short-lived as it appeared a bird had nipped off the unopened buds and left them on the ground beside the flowering stem for us to find. The orchid could possibly occur next season so we will be watchful.
Winter Sun Orchid
Please let us know of any orchids you find. They are all documented and photographed in Orchids of the Anglesea District available from ANGAIR.
Alison Watson and Margaret MacDonald