Terrestrial orchids flower throughout the year, but the summer months are often more challenging for orchid enthusiasts.

Everyone will be familiar with the eye-catching Rosy Hyacinth Orchid Dipodium roseum, which is widespread in the district, and flowers so well at this time of the year. Despite some very hot days, this species has done remarkably well, and some very fine specimens continue to brighten our dry heathlands. I have not managed to find any of the White Hyacinth Orchid Dipodium pardalinum this year. Perhaps other people have been more fortunate.

The outstanding orchid for the summer months was the Large-tongue Orchid Cryptostylis subulata that flowered exceptionally well in December. This orchid is rare in the Anglesea district, known only from a swampy heathland off No 2 Road. It is a very distinctive species.

Large-tongue Orchid

Four to six flowers appear on a flower stem to about 60 cm tall. Each flower has a large, conspicuous, reddish and yellowish, tongue-shaped labellum, which has two, dark purple, longitudinal ridges, and shiny red black calli that adorn the tip. You really have to lie down and view the flower from underneath to appreciate its beauty. The fine sepals and petals are held stiffly upright, with their margins inrolled. The leathery, green leaves are also held stiffly upright on a short slender stalk.

Large-tongue Orchid leaves

There are usually many more leaves than flower stems.

The other summer orchids have been few and far between. The Elbow Orchids Thynninorchis huntianus, which we were thrilled to discover in the Tanners Road gravel pits last summer, obviously did not appreciate having their habitat burnt, and there was no sign of them in the area that was a site of a fuel reduction burn last year. A few Horned Orchids Orthoceras strictum and Cinnamon Bells Gastrodia sesamoides were observed. Small Duck Orchids Paracaleana minor, and Flying Duck Orchids Caleana major, flowered in good numbers. We had no records of Tall Cinnamon Bells Gastrodia procera, Black-tongue Caladenias Caladenia congesta, Austral Leek Orchids Prasophyllum australe or Dark-tipped Greenhoods Pterostylis atrans. We would love to know if you saw any of these flowering in the district.

Hopefully we will get some late summer and early autumn rains that will encourage growth of our autumn species. The environment is just so very dry at the present time.

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

Margaret MacDonald


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