The similarity of some of our ground orchid leaves often causes confusion at this time of the year.
Recently, when searching for the Small Helmet Orchid Corybas unguiculatus, I was confronted with a tangled mass of Mosquito Orchids Acianthus pusillus, Gnat Orchids Cyrtostylis reniformis, and yes, the occasional Small Helmet Orchid in amongst the others. None of the orchids were in flower, although buds were starting to appear. Mosquito Orchid leaves are heart-shaped, and always purple below; Small Helmet Orchids leaves are narrower, more pointed, and of a thinner texture – often green beneath, but, to be confusing, can sometimes be purplish. Small Gnat Orchids leaves are kidney-shaped, grey green and heavily veined above – light green below.
The Mosquito Orchid Acianthus pusillus would have to be given credit for the best flowering orchid at the present time. It appears to be flowering much later, and in smaller numbers than usual. I was endeavouring to find a good specimen to photograph earlier in the season, and it is only now that I am finding attractive flowering stalks. Widespread in the district, there are plenty of the heart-shaped leaves that are always purplish below, but not very many of the flower stalks, with their tiny insect-like flowers.
We have not as yet located the larger species in the area – Large Mosquito Orchid Acianthus exsertus, which we referred to in the June 2011 Newsletter.
We were thrilled to find another colony of Striped Greenhoods Pterostylis striata in Aireys Inlet – this species was featured in last month’s Newsletter. Unfortunately, it is on private land, but is very much treasured by its owners, and is therefore in very safe habitat. I feel sure there must be more of these orchids flowering in the district, so please be on the alert. They cannot really be mistaken for any other species.
It is an exciting time for orchids – Greenhoods, Helmet Orchids and Gnat Orchids should all be flowering in the next few months, while the spring species are putting up leaves. The rainfall we are having, once again, gives promise of good winter and spring flowering orchids. Do share your finds with us.
All of our known orchid species are photographed and described in Orchids of the Anglesea District available from Angair.