Early autumn orchids: they may be small and hard to find, but the Midge Orchids, Corunastylis sp., have a beauty all of their own, if you take the time to look at the tiny flowers with the aid of a hand lens.
The flowers grow up with the leaf, and then the flower stalk emerges through a slit near the top. We have three species growing in the Anglesea district, and they are all flowering at the present time, and hopefully may continue for a few more weeks. They are easy to distinguish.
Corunastylis morrisii Bearded Midge Orchid is the most common and widespread. It usually grows to about 20 cm tall, and has up to fifteen, reddish-purple flowers, with the dorsal sepal, petals and labellum densely fringed with long hairs.
Bearded Midge Orchid
Corunastylis despectans Sharp Midge Orchid also grows to about 20 cm tall. It has a spike of dark, purplish-brown flowers, but the sepals, petals and labellum are sharply pointed and lack hairs.
Sharp Midge Orchid
The third species, Corunastylis ciliata Fringed Midge Orchid, grows to about 15 cm tall. The reddish, oblong labellum is the feature of the flower. The margins are fringed with sparse, short hairs.
The only other autumn orchid that has been observed flowering at the moment is the Eriochilus cucullatus Parson’s Band. The prominent, white, lateral sepals can catch your eye, as they stand out in amongst the grasses where they often grow.
Keep on the alert for other autumn orchids that may soon be appearing. Pterostylis parviflora Tiny Greenhood, P. sp. aff. parviflora Brown Tipped Greenhood and P. sp. aff revoluta Autumn Greenhood.
Please let us know of your observations. Photos and descriptions of all the orchids that grow in the Anglesea district are documented in Orchids of the Anglesea District available from Angair.