It is certainly a treat to be out in orchid territory and not have dry crackling leaf litter underfoot.
The soaking autumn rains that we had in early May have done wonders for our orchid populations. The Tiny Greenhoods, Brown Tipped Greenhoods and Large Autumn Greenhoods, all of which we featured last month, have continued flowering.
We are now welcoming another of our greenhood species, Banded Greenhoods, Pterostylis sanguinea, that are pushing their way through the damp soil. This species can grow to a height of 35 cm in good conditions and can bear up to 10 reddish-brown nodding flowers with transparent patches. The large lateral sepals are a feature of the flower, as they almost form a circle below the flower. However, this year with the dry conditions, many of the specimens are much shorter and are bearing just one flower. This species should continue to flower for a number of months so hopefully we will see some taller specimens as we walk the tracks.
Banded Greenhoods (in good season)
A second species of orchid, Fringed Hares, Leporella fimbriata, has been flowering throughout April. We are very fortunate to have this orchid in the Anglesea district as it mostly grows in the far south-west of Victoria. We do have a number of colonies scattered throughout the district, but our best population is in the area close to the former Alcoa coalmine. Although we have lost large numbers of tubers due to the earthworks taking place to strengthen the mine wall, we have nevertheless managed to conserve some of the orchids that we have admired there for many years. This year despite the dry conditions, we had about 50 flowers in bud in early April—many of these withered but some have managed to survive and appear to be flourishing in the damper soil as you can see from the group photo. The flowers are indeed small and the stems shorter than usual but they are there.
Group of Fringed Hare Orchids
Fringed Hare Orchid (in better season)
Our third species to feature is the Autumn Bird Orchid, Chiloglottis reflexa. The rains did not eventuate in time to convince the tubers to send up flowers but carpets of paired dark green leaves are now appearing in the damp soil. Flowers are often scarce, but not as scarce as they are this year. We only found one specimen in an area where we usually find a number of flowering orchids.
Autumn Bird Orchid
Carpet of Bird Orchid leaves
Winter is usually a good time for our terrestrial orchids, and we hope that the recent rains and hopefully more to come, will produce populations in good numbers. Mosquito Orchids, Acianthus pusillus, are starting to flower and Tall Greenhoods, Pterostylis melagramma, are in bud. Carpets of Nodding Greenhoods, P. nutans, are appearing. We also need to look out for Striped Greenhoods, P. striata, Trim Greenhoods, P. concinna, and our Helmet orchids, Corybas sp.
Please let us know of your orchid finds. All of these species are photographed and described in Orchids of the Anglesea District available from Angair.