To all of us who love terrestrial orchids, 2015 has been a very disappointing and dispiriting year.

Yes, on the odd occasion we have been able to admire the beauty of some of our species, but on the whole, the plants have been short lived and the flowers have been very weak.

The sun orchids, that usually enthral us in the spring, were just a non-event caused by the lack of autumn rains that are needed to stimulate the orchid tubers to awaken and send up strong shoots. The dry spring and the burst of very hot weather in early October were disastrous for those plants that had managed to put up flowering stalks. They just withered and collapsed as we observed them in the field. A few managed to open but you had to be lucky to see them.

Some Flying Duck Orchids Caleana major are presently flowering, but again they are small and not very strong. You can, however, still be fascinated by these unusual flowers that give the appearance of ducks in flight.

It could be as a result of some winter rainfall that we are now starting to see Rosy Hyacinth orchids, Dipodium roseum, growing throughout the district in quite large numbers. At the present time we are just seeing dark reddish-brown flower stems appearing in amongst the dry vegetation, often clustered around the bases of trees, where their associated mycorrhizal fungi thrive in the extra bark and leaf litter.

Hyacinth orchid buds near tree base
Hyacinth orchid buds near tree base

If you look closely at the top of the stems you will see the flower buds just starting to form with a tight cluster of flowers.

Flower bud of Hyacinth orchid
Flower bud of Hyacinth orchid 

Hopefully we will get enough moisture to encourage these buds to swell and open into the beautiful pink flowers that we usually see scattered throughout the bushland during the summer months.

Flower of Hyacinth orchid
Flower of Hyacinth orchid 

Orchid watching is a complex game, but despite the struggles, we continue to play, optimistic that the underground tubers are surviving and that next year we will once again be enthralled by the beauty of these majestic flowers.

Margaret MacDonald

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