Well the long awaited-for rains have fallen in early May, and the conditions for our terrestrial orchids look promising.
Tiny Greenhoods, Pterosylis parviflora, that had not been sighted when our last newsletter went to print, have been flowering well over the last few weeks and can be observed scattered throughout the district.
Fringed Hare Orchids, Leporella fimbriata, have continued to flower in a number of areas. There are certainly more of the non-flowering wide, ovate leaves with distinctive red stripes than flowering specimens, but nevertheless we have seen many of the attractive flowers that never fail to impress those people who come across them.
Fringed Hare Orchid leaves
Three new species have been observed in early May, Mosquito Orchids, Acianthus pusillus, Autumn Bird Orchids, Chiloglottis reflexa, and Banded Greenhoods, Pterostylis sanguinea. They each have interesting features.
Mosquito Orchids, with tiny flowers that resemble insects, are usually very abundant in the district, forming large colonies of heart-shaped leaves, green on top, purplish below, carpeting the ground. Mosquito orchids are pollinated by gnats usually associated with rotting plant matter or fungi. Nectar is secreted into a depression at the base of the labellum where the visiting insect feeds. With the column arching over the labellum, the pollinia comes into contact with the visiting insect as it feeds.
Autumn Bird Orchids, Chiloglottis reflexa, are very tantalising, as pairs of dark green leaves with wavy margins form large colonies, but it is often very challenging to find a flower. The labellum is densely covered with calli, with one large stalked gland at the base. The orchids are pollinated by male wasps that are attracted by odours mimicking a female wasp and attempting to mate with the labellum. We are still not certain that we have the Tall Bird Orchid, C. trilabra, in our district.
Autumn Bird Orchid
Banded Greenhoods, Pterostylis sanguinea, are very distinctive members of the Greenhood family and are certainly easy to identify. Flowering plants do not have a rosette with leafy rosettes forming on non-flowering plants only. The flower stem has several narrow stem-leaves and bear one to six red-brown flowers. The large flat, downward pointing lateral sepals almost form a circle in shape with the small oblong labellum lying flat against the lateral sepals.
There are other orchids for us to keep an alert out for during the next few weeks. These include Striped Greenhoods, Pterostylis striata, and Small Helmet Orchids, Corybas unguiculatus, while leaves of many other species are beginning to appear.
Descriptions and photographs of all of these orchids are found in Orchids of the Anglesea District available from Angair.