The Mosquito Orchid, Acianthus pusillus, is appearing now in open forests, woodlands and coastal heathland in areas where there is a cover of leaf litter.
It is a small orchid with brown insect-like flowers. The column is arched over the labellum so the gnat pollinator when it feeds on the nectar at the base of the labellum is in contact with the pollinia (a mass of pollen grains). The heart-shaped dark green leaf, purple underneath, is held well above the ground when the plant is in flower. The Mosquito Orchid is a colony forming species producing a replacement tuber each season after flowering, and also producing additional vegetative tubers and seed. It is no wonder that it forms extensive colonies, the heart-shaped leaves often carpeting the ground.
Leaves of many orchids are appearing now including waxlips, spiders, gnats, sun orchids, hares and greenhoods, so it is an exciting time to be out and about to see what will be appearing in the next few months.
We were pleased to discover the Autumn Bird Orchids, Chiloglottis reflexa, are still producing a few tiny flowers amongst the swath of leaves, while the Banded Greenhood, Pterostylis sanguinea, continues to flower well in many areas.
An exciting find this month was the discovery of a colony of Striped Greenhoods, Pterostylis striata, within the Great Otway National Park near Anglesea. There were about 10 strong flowers and a great number of rosettes—flowering plants do not produce rosettes.
Striped Greenhood rosettes
The Striped Greenhood is best recognised by the tall, narrow, dark green and white striped flower with brown toning, and the leafy flower stem that can bear up to 10 leaves. This is a very rare orchid in our district although it is widely distributed across southern Victoria. We have two known small colonies on private land at Aireys Inlet which are flowering as well at present. We are also aware of another very small colony in the O’Donohue heathlands but there has been no action at this site for a few years.
Please let us know of your orchid discoveries. They are all documented and photographed in Orchids of the Anglesea District available from Angair.
Margaret MacDonald, Alison Watson