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The last month of spring has been such an amazing time for orchids in the Anglesea district. We have added two new orchids to our list, and we feel we have finally come to understand the small leek orchids that have been flowering in the heathlands.

The sharp eyes of Ross McCallum identified that one of the small blue orchids that we have been happy to call Slender Sun orchid, Thelymitra pauciflora, was really the Short Sun Orchid T. exigua. Ross’s sharp eyes determined there was only one sterile bract on the flower stem and together with its short flower stem and clumping habit it was indeed different.

shortsunorchidShort Sun Orchid

The second exciting find was Bronze Caps, Caladenia iridescens, discovered by Paul Wright when the Friends of Eastern Otways were weeding near Forest Rd. It is a taller, stronger and much more colourful flower than the similar Little Bronze Caps, C. transitoria, that we often stumble across in the heathlands. It seems to flower later than the Little Bronze Caps and the flowers certainly last longer in the field.

bronzecapsBronze Caps

The Leek Orchids have been causing us problems as we have struggled to identify what are the specimens flowering in the district especially in the burnt areas. With the help of Dean Rouse we now understand that we have three distinct species or forms – Scented Leek Orchid, Prasophyllum odoratum, Heath Leek Orchid, P. spicatum (Anglesea form) and Anglesea Leek Orchid, P. odoratum (Anglesea form). The most common is the Heath Leek Orchid. Their details will be included in the new edition of our orchid book that should be in publication early next year.

anglesealeekAnglesea Leek Orchid

After many years of not finding the Anglesea Leek Orchid we have been blown away in late November by the number of orchids we have observed. They have started flowering once the Heath Leek Orchid has finished, and this is a key indicator of the species. It has a fruity perfume and as well as single specimens also has a clumping habit. Some magnificent clumps have appeared in the burnt areas.

Another exciting find has been the reappearance of the Elegant Leek Orchid, Prasophyllum barnettii, also appearing in good numbers in one of the recent burns. We do occasionally find this species in very small numbers without a burn, but like other Leek Orchids it responds well to fire.

elegantleekElegant Leek Orchid

As summer approaches things slow down in the orchid world and we can catch our breath, but there are still many orchids to look out for. Hyacinth Orchids, Dipodium roseum, are just starting to open their buds, as are the Horned Orchids, Orthoceras strictum.

White/Spotted Hyacinth Orchid

Horned Orchid

Keep your eyes out for the rare Spotted Hyacinth Orchid, Dipodium pardalinum, that occasionally can be found in the area. Onion orchids are flowering and require a magnifying glass to distinguish the features and identify them to species level – perhaps a challenge for you to set yourself. The tiny labellum holds the key to identification.

A greenhood that could be seen now in heathy woodland is the Dark-tipped Greenhood, P. atrans, which is an extremely rare orchid in our district. It has a dark tipped hood and should be the only greenhood flowering at this time. It has not been sighted for many years so please keep your eyes open as you walk the tracks.

darktippedorchidDark-tipped Greenhood

The Flying Duck Orchids, Caleana major, and the Small Duck Orchids, Caleana minor, are in flower in a number of sites. They are such attractive orchids and certainly delight viewers.

Flying Duck Orchid

smallduckSmall Duck Orchid

The Elbow Orchid, Thynninorchis huntianus, is a tiny orchid and difficult to see but is worth looking out for with its extraordinary extended column and hinged labellum designed to attract the wasp which enables pollination to occur.

Elbow Orchid

Large Tongue Orchid, Cryptostylis subulata, have been observed in good bud and should flower between December and January.

Large Tongue Orchid

All of our orchids are documented and photographed in Orchids of the Anglesea District unfortunately now out of print. We can assure you a new edition is well on its way to publication. Please make sure you let us know of any unusual sightings you have. This is how we have added two new records to our orchid list over the last month.

Margaret MacDonald Alison Watson