The orchids were spectacular when we went on the Nature Ramble in October.
We walked on the National Park land beyond the houses in Harvey Street, which had been burnt in April of this year.
Because of the burn, many orchids and other plants appeared in profusion and have not been seen in such large numbers for many years. Unfortunately, the kangaroos and wallabies had been feasting on some of the flowers, but there were still plenty for us to see.
The Red Beak Orchid – Pyrochis nigricans – was still in flower after many weeks. Most people recognise its broad, flat, ground-hugging leaf which appears in winter, but rarely see the flowers. As the flowers die they become black, and this gives rise to another of its common names – the Undertaker Orchid.
A mist of blue under the trees was the Tufted Lobelia – Lobelia rhombifolia – which also only appears after fire.
Another blue flower just coming out was the Blue Pincushion – Brunonia australis – also stimulated by the burn.
There was a large area of yellow buttons, most of which were Shiny Buttons – Leptorynchos nitidulus. The ring of bracts around the flower-head can shine in the sun – hence its common name.
The Tall Leek Orchid – Prasophyllum elatum – was looking splendid, crowded with greenish-brown and white flowers – some stems were green but most were black.
Fortunately Marg MacDonald was with us and was not only able to show us and name all the orchids, but kept finding new plants just coming into flower. One of these was another leek orchid – Prasophyllum brevilabre – The Short-lip Leek Orchid – with up to 8 purplish flowers with white lips spread out along the stem.
Some of the other orchids seen were the Donkey Orchid, the Bearded Greenhood, the tiny Eastern Bronze Caladenia, the Mantis Orchid, the Notched Onion Orchid, the Tiny Caladenia and the Waxlip.
As the morning became warmer and sunnier, some of the sun orchids bravely tried to open. The beautiful blue Great Sun Orchid – Thelymitra aristata – was there, with the Salmon, Spotted, Rush-leaf, Slender and Pink Sun Orchids, plus a few remaining Rabbit Ears.
Another unusual sighting was a patch of Hare Orchids – Leptoceras menziesii, with red and white flowers, the upright red petals resembling hare’s ears.
Everyone was delighted to see such a variety of plants in such profusion. It re-enforces our belief that autumn burns are the most beneficial to the flora and fauna of the area.