With the last month of winter fast approaching we are observing many of our winter species of orchids in full flower, while leaves and buds of some of our spring orchids seem to indicate a good flowering season ahead.
The Veined Helmet Orchid, Corybas diemenicus, certainly put on a good display near Forest Road with the tiny flowers standing upright amongst the green moss. Nearly every leaf bore a flower.
We need to take care when visiting this colony as many flowers were accidently damaged by keen photographers this year. It is a very rare orchid in our district, but we were thrilled to hear of a very small colony on private land at Aireys Inlet where the landowners had removed so much invasive vegetation.
The third species of helmet orchid in our district, Slaty Helmet Orchid, C.incurvus, is now coming into flower – very large colonies of leaves but just a few of the reddish-purple flowers that appear to rest on light-green leaves.
The greenhoods have been abundant and should continue to flower for the next few months. Trim Greenhoods, Pterostylis concinna, have produced extensive colonies with a high percentage of flowering plants. Check for the distinctly forked brownish labellum that is just visible above the front opening of the flower.
Nodding Greenhoods, P. nutans, are displaying some great colonies of flowers and rosettes with the distinctive nodding translucent flowers never failing to impress, especially if viewed in the sunlight.
Tall Greenhoods, P. melagramma, are appearing on the sides of many of the tracks with some very tall specimens bearing a good number of flowers being observed.
In contrast we have found very few of our other tall greenhood species the rare Green-striped Greenhood, P. chlorogramma. It has a different shaped flower, the hood being roughly semi-circular and bulbous in the bottom half, and it usually has a dark green stripe on the labellum.
The hood of P. melagramma although still curved is flat on the top and there is a central brown stripe on the labellum.
Dwarf Greenhoods, P. nana, are just starting to appear. As its name implies it is a very small species and can often be overlooked. The hood ends in a blunt tip in contrast to P.concinna that ends with a downward-pointing tip.
We need to look out for Maroonhoods, P. pedunculata, and Blunt Greenhoods, P.curta, that are also starting to appear.
The two species of gnat orchids, Small Gnat Orchid, Cyrtostylis reniformis, and Large Gnat Orchid, C.robusta, are both flowering. The Small Gnat Orchid has small lightish-brown flowers and forms extensive colonies with ground hugging kidney-shaped leaves. Look for the nectar which runs down the wide labellum from glands at the base of the column, attracting insects. They are most likely pollinated by fungus gnats.
The Large Gnat, C. robusta, is similar with a taller flower stem, more reddish-brown flowers, and a larger brighter green rounded leaf. It tends to grow on sandy soil only, usually close to the coast, whereas the Small Gnat can grow on various soil types. The other difference is the tip of the labellum. The Small Gnat has a ragged edge while the Large Gnat is more rounded with a pointed tip.
So many leaves of our spring flowering orchids are appearing in many places. We look forward to good displays in the coming months.
Enjoy being out in the field and please let us know of any of your orchid discoveries. We are always keen to know where our orchids are growing.
All of our orchids are documented and photographed in Orchids of the Anglesea District. The new edition costing $30.00 is available from the Angair Natural History Centre on Monday and Thursday mornings, online on the Publications page of the Angair website and from Anglesea News & Lotto and Great Escape Books in Aireys Inlet.
Margaret MacDonald email@example.com Alison Watson firstname.lastname@example.org