Despite reasonable rainfall, the cold, wintry weather has not encouraged our terrestrial orchids to flower.
However, one species, a particular favourite of mine, the Veined Helmet Orchid, Corybas diemenicus, has produced flowers over the past few weeks. Although common in Victoria especially in coastal areas, this species is very rare in our district with extensive colonies that once existed near Cecil Track at the back of Anglesea not reappearing since a control burn was carried out there in April 2012.
Veined Helmet Orchid colony
We have one known colony within the Great Otway National Park and a small colony on private land in Anglesea. The tiny orchid has a textured, heart-shaped, ground-hugging leaf and a single dark red flower appearing on top of a short thick stem to a height of approximately 20mm. The dorsal sepal is hooded over the labellum that has a central white patch and coarsely toothed red veined spreading margins.
Veined Helmet Orchid
It is intriguing to observe the movement of the colony in the Great Otway National Park. Once flowering on top of a mound of earth covered with moss, the underground tubers have moved down the slope in an easterly direction for approximately two metres. The question could be asked – where did the mound of earth come from, presumably bringing the orchid tubers with it?
Rosettes and buds of the Trim Greenhood, Pterostylis concinna, have been observed in large numbers, with a few flowers opening to display the deeply notched, brown labellum that makes for easy identification of this species.
The rosettes appear to have a bluish green appearance. Many more flowers will be open within the next few weeks and should continue to flower until spring.
A few Nodding Greenhoods, P. nutans, are in flower but the stems are generally shorter and there are far fewer flowers than usual.
I have also seen a few flowers open on the Tall Greenhood, P. melagramma. Both of these species will flower for the next few months.
Our third species of Helmet Orchid, Slaty Helmet Orchid, Corybas incurvus, is in bud, as are Mayfly Orchids, Acianthus caudatus, and Gnat Orchids, Cyrtostylis reniformis and C. robusta.
As we say often, please keep us informed of your orchid observations, especially when orchids are not plentiful.
All of these orchids are photographed and described in Orchids of the Anglesea District available from Angair.