Below average rainfall for the past three months, and especially the lack of rain in the last few weeks has meant we are seeing low numbers of our autumn orchids. All of our three midge orchids have been seen flowering, though in fewer numbers than in previous years.
The Fringed Midge Orchid, Corunastylis ciliata, although widespread in western Victoria, is a rare orchid in our district and difficult to find amongst the grassy areas where it grows. It seems to like roadsides where the vegetation is shorter. It can have up to 10 greenish flowers with a red labellum, though most seen so far this season have been bearing just two or three flowers. Alison and Phil stumbled on a beautiful specimen with about 10 flowers on a roadside in Bellbrae.
Fringed Midge Orchid
The other midge orchids are the more common maroon coloured Bearded Midge Orchid, C. morrissii, appearing in many places, and the rarer Sharp Midge, C. despectans, found in heathy woodlands.
Bearded Midge Orchid
The first of the Brown-tipped Greenhoods, Pterostylis clivosa, and the Tiny Greenhoods, P. parviflora, are just starting to be seen. One tiny bud of the Autumn Greenhood, P. ampliata, was discovered in the Gum Flat area where we used to find quite a few of these impressive greenhoods. They have not yet been seen in Aireys Inlet this year where they flowered so well in March and April last autumn. We are hopeful that with the rain that is gently falling at the present time buds and rosettes will appear in the next few weeks.
Parsons Bands, Eriochilus cucullatus, are starting to flower though they are mostly small so far.
Usually they are white, but some pink ones have also been seen. The ground hugging, ovate leaf appears after the flower. Sometimes there is a taller, double flower to be found. These orchids too will respond to good rain.
The flowers of Autumn Wasp Orchid, Chiloglotis curviclavia, have so far been small and in low numbers, though the paired leaves are still emerging from the soil with some buds growing.
Autumn Wasp Orchid
Lesley Cadzow just happened to be at a site in Moggs Creek when the pollinating wasp arrived and landed on the labellum of the orchid endeavouring to mate with the ‘perceived’ partner. Lesley was able to capture the action with her mobile phone. Well done, Lesley!
Autumn Wasp Orchid and wasp
We look forward to the Fringed Hare Orchids, Leporella fimbriata, flowering in April. We expect to see buds emerging after these autumn rains. This spectacular orchid usually grows in far western Victoria but we are fortunate to have good colonies in the Anglesea district.
Look for the heart-shaped leaves of Mosquito Orchids, Acianthus pusillus, which should be flowering in May. The rosettes of various greenhoods, particularly Nodding Greenhoods, P. nutans, are starting to appear.
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 the fourth edition of Orchids of the Anglesea District.
Thanks to Keith McLean for help with orchid photos