As usual the Veined Helmet Orchid, Corybas diemenicus, came into flower in July and will hopefully continue to show its flowers for the next few weeks.
Veined Helmet Orchid
I feel one should not have favourites in the orchid world – each species has its own beauty. However who could not be charmed by this tiny colony-forming orchid with its dark red flowers contrasting against the green moss beds where it is often found?
Veined Helmet Orchids in moss
Unfortunately our best site for this species was burnt a few years ago, and as a result wattles have invaded the area. The leaf of this orchid is usually heart-shaped, textured, and has a distinct central vein. The flower is held on a short thick stem, with the labellum being prominently veined and flared with coarsely toothed margins. The rounded non-textured leaves of the Slaty Helmet Orchid, Corybas incurvus are showing tiny buds.
Leaves very similar to those of the Helmet Orchids are also appearing in large numbers, forming colonies in various places. These leaves are usually those of the Gnat Orchids, Cyrtostylis reniformis.
Gnat Orchid leaf
These leaves are however a greyish-green with prominent pale veins. This orchid is widespread and common in the district growing in the heathlands and open forests. The slender upright stem to about 10 cm bears one to four greenish-brown flowers with the labellum ending in a ragged or toothed apex.
Gnat Orchid flower
In contrast the rare Gnat Orchid species, the Large Gnat Orchid, Cyrtostylis robusta, that also forms extensive colonies, has bright green leaves and reddish flowers with the labellum ending in a fine-pointed tip. As its name indicates it is a much stronger orchid than C. reniformis. It usually has many more leaves than flowers and tends to grow in the coastal areas.
Large Gnat Orchid leaves
Large Gnat Orchid flower
Another species of orchid to look out for is the Trim Greenhood, Pterostylis concinna, which has recently started to flower.
This species forms large colonies of bluish-green rosettes with a high percentage of flowering plants.
Trim Greenhood colony
The rosettes encircle the flowers at the base of the flowering stem. The small, solitary, white and dark green flowers have brown tonings and the hood ends in a downward point. The labellum is brown and is deeply notched. It is just visible above the frontal opening of the flower.
Many of our larger colonies are not appearing at this stage – perhaps because of the dry June weather. It will be interesting to see if they do appear in the next few weeks. Nodding Greenhoods, Pterostylis nutans, are in full bloom, with a few flowers on our Tall Greenhoods, P. melagramma, just starting to open. Hopefully the early July rains that came may have good results. Many leaves of Sun Orchids and Spider Orchids are appearing throughout the district.
All of these orchids are photographed and described in Orchids of the Anglesea District available from Angair. Please let us know of your orchid discoveries as they help us to build up the bigger picture.