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As I write this report in mid-June there is not too much flowering in the field to tempt people to venture out for orchid observations.Some of the orchids mentioned last month have continued to flower—Mosquito Orchids, Acianthus pusillus, Autumn Bird Orchids, Chiloglottis reflexa, and Banded Greenhoods, Pterostylis sanguinea. We can now welcome two additional species that are not common in the area—Striped or Striated Greenhood, Pterostylis striata, and the first of our helmet orchids, the Small Helmet Orchid, Corybas unguiculatus.

Striped Greenhoods have been seen, although in very small numbers, where they usually flower on private land in Aireys Inlet. We do have one small population in Anglesea within the Great Otway National Park, but as the area was burnt this autumn they are obviously not flowering there this year. The Striped Greenhood is distinctive with a dark green and white striped flower, often with reddish brown tonings. The lateral sepals are tall and erect, curving forward at the tip. The flower stem can grow to 25cm tall with four to ten leaves scattered up its length. Flowering plants do not have a basal rosette—smallish, neat rosettes appear only on non-flowering plants.

Striped GreenhoodStriped Greenhood

Striped Greenhood rosetteStriped Greenhood rosette

Small Helmet Orchids were widespread in the area when I first became interested in terrestrial orchids, but recently they have been difficult to locate. They have been flowering well at Moggs Creek in the last few years and they have appeared in quite good numbers once again this year, although battling against the leaf litter and mulch that has appeared in the area (Parks Vic need to understand that mulch can be detrimental to these small flowers which this year are tinier than ever.) You really need a hand lens to view the reddishpurple flowers that stand on very short flower stems coming up at the base of the heart-shaped grey-green leaf.

Small Helmet OrchidSmall Helmet Orchid

Small Helmet Orchid flowerSmall Helmet Orchid

If you get excited as you look ahead there seems to be reason for optimism. Many orchid leaves are appearing—carpets of Nodding Greenhoods, Pterostylis nutans, with just a few flowers already open, Trim Greenhoods, P. concinna, Dwarf Greenhoods, P. nana, Tall Greenhoods, P. melagramma, in good bud, Gnat Orchids, both Cyrtostylis reniformis and C. robusta, Spider Orchids, Caladenia sp., Waxlips, Glossodia major, and a few Sun Orchids, Thelymitra sp. We also look forward to welcoming our two other species of Helmet Orchids in the next month or so, the Veined Helmet Orchids, Corybas diemenicus, and Slaty Helmet Orchids, C. incurvus.

Descriptions and photographs of all of these orchids are found in Orchids of the Anglesea District available from Angair and please remember to share your discoveries. They are all special.

Margaret MacDonald