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As December 2021 came towards its end there was still a lot of activity in the orchid world in the Anglesea district.

We were thrilled to find a large number of the rare Austral Leek Orchid, Prasophyllum australe, in the recently burnt area on Tanners Rd and again along Forest Rd where the Friends of Eastern Otways were carrying out removal of environmental weeds. This was a surprising discovery as although we have seen this species in a different site on Forest Rd before, it has not been sighted there for a number of years. The specimens were very spectacular. The Austral Leek Orchid grows in a variety of habitats from woodlands to swampy areas.

Austral Leek Orchid

Again on Tanners Rd we were excited to find an extensive colony of one of our onion orchids: it is called Sweet Onion Orchid, Microtis rara, in our orchid book but now known as Oblong Onion Orchid, Microtis oblonga. Onion orchids are often difficult to identify, but this species is quite distinctive with its well-spaced flowers on the stem. It is rare in the district so this was a great discovery.

oblongonionOblong Onion Orchid

The Flying Duck Orchids, Caleana major, and the Little Duck Orchids, Caleana minor, continued to flower well and can still be seen in the gravelly area. A few Elbow Orchids, Thynninorchis huntianus, were observed and the Sickle Greenhood, Pterostylis falcata, was seen in the Salt Creek area.

Sickle Greenhood

Cinnamon Bells, Gastrodia sesamoides, flowered in a number of places but the larger species Tall Potato Orchid, Gastrodia procera, was not sighted in its known habitat at Moggs Creek.

The Large Tongue Orchid, Cryptostylis subulata, flowered again at Moggs Creek with some very spectacular flowers. A few were quickly devoured by hungry wallabies or kangaroos, but some stayed to enthral those who saw them.

Large Tongue Orchid

The new colony discovered by one of our park rangers on Shiney Eye Track was disappointing. Only one small bud, although there were many leaves. One flowering specimen was found in the Red River colony in mid-January. There may have been more as we hadn’t checked the site earlier. A visit to the Red River colony in mid-January, however, was most rewarding. Twelve beautifully flowering specimens were observed. Some were 30 or 40 cm tall with up to eight or nine flowers on each flowering stem. This is the best season we have had for a long time.

Horned Orchids, Orthoceras strictum, were seen in a number of places with some very fine specimens being observed during the Friends’ weeding session on Forest Rd. They were very tall and robust.

Horned Orchids

Of course this is the time of the year for Rosy Hyacinth Orchids, Dipodium roseum, as they brighten up the bush with their tall flower stalks with multiple flowers in many shades of pink. It seems to be a particularly good year and they are appearing in many places, although many have been grazed by our native animals. An easy place to see them is Fraser Ave where they were looking fantastic in mid-January.

Rosy Hyacinth Orchid

The rare White/Spotted Hyacinth Orchid, Dipodium pardalinum, was also observed in the Alcoa Conservation Reserve on Fraser Ave. They also flowered on a vacant block at Aireys Inlet surrounded by the invasive Bluebell Creeper. The flowers of D. pardalinum are lighter pink or white and the labellum has spots rather than the stripes that are seen on the Rosy Hyacinth Orchid. It is always worth looking closer at any paler flowers to see if it is the White/Spotted Hyacinth Orchid. The two species often grow in close proximity to each other.

whitespottedhyacinthWhite/Spotted Hyacinth Orchid

Towards the end of January and into February we can start thinking about our orchid species and perhaps start looking for leaves – Midge Orchids, Corunastylis sp., Autumn Bird Orchids, Chiloglottis curviclavia, and the early greenhoods, Brown-tipped Greenhood, Pterostylis clivosa, and the Tiny Greenhood, P. parviflora.

All of our orchids are documented and photographed in Orchids of the Anglesea District, unfortunately now out of print. We can assure you a new edition is well on its way to publication. Please make sure you let us know of any unusual sightings you have.

Margaret MacDonald Alison Watson