With the third highest March rainfall for many years, our autumn orchids appear to be responding well. The tiny, delightful Parson’s Bands Orchid, Eriochilus cucullatus, can now be seen along roadsides and edges of tracks and in recently burnt areas.
Parson’s Bands Orchid
The two lateral sepals are mostly white though some of the earlier ones seen this year have been a light shade of pink. They have a crowded hairy labellum when looked at closely. The flowers seen already have been tall strong plants. Their leaves appear once they have started flowering and remain long after the flowers have withered.
In amongst the colonies of tiny, paired leaves of the Autumn Bird Orchid, Chiloglottis curviclavia, are the first delicate flowers. The leaves are appearing in many areas but as yet very few flowers have been observed. Of course there are always many more leaves than flowers.
Autumn Bird Orchid
The first of the Brown-tipped Greenhoods, Pterostylis clivosa, and the Tiny Greenhoods, P. parviflora are just starting to be seen. Bearded Midge Orchid, Corunastylis morrisii, and Fringed Midge Orchid, C. ciliata, are still in flower along Forest Rd.
It has been exciting to see that the early autumn rains have stimulated our Large Autumn Greenhoods, Pterostylis ampliata, to start flowering in mid March with the promise of some more buds to open. Non-flowering plants form a ground-hugging rosette and these seem to appear later than the flowering specimens. We found 27 of the species in flower, unfortunately on private land in Aireys Inlet. We were thrilled however to find 3 more orchids in bud in Greenhood Reserve, Aireys Inlet, standing like tiny candles amongst the grasses. This small colony was transplanted into the reserve many years ago, and it has from time to time managed to produce flowers. It is a most attractive orchid with the hood curving forward, and the dorsal sepal extending beyond the petals to a long pointed tip. The lateral sepals extend well above the hood and the long pointed labellum extends prominently through the front opening.
Large Autumn Greenhood
Large Autumn Greenhood in bud
As well as the orchids mentioned above, other autumn orchids to look out for in the next few months are the Fringed Hare Orchids, Leporella fimbriata, and the Mosquito Orchids, Acianthus pusillus. Leaves of other species of greenhoods should also start appearing.
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. It is now in the hands of the book designer. Please make sure you let us know of any unusual sightings you have.