Now that the coronavirus restrictions have been slightly eased and we are permitted to walk in the national park, it is exciting to view the orchid world once again.
There are some beautiful orchids flowering now if you look carefully. The Striped Greenhood, Pterostylis striata, is looking impressive in the national park near O’Donohue Rd where it was discovered last year. The number of flowers is greater than in 2019 with many more buds still to open. These cannot be confused with any other greenhood with their strongly striped hood and forward-facing lateral sepals. They are also flowering at a couple of sites on private land in Aireys Inlet in smaller numbers.
The Banded Greenhood, Pterostylis sanguinea, is flowering well. In contrast to the short specimens found last year, some very spectacular ones are flowering at the present time. One in the Forest Rd area is standing 35 cm tall with five flowers open and some buds still to unfurl. These long-lasting flowers are reddish brown with a nodding hood and lateral sepals which are partly joined to almost form a circle. The labellum is triggered by an insect which is trapped inside the hood, ensuring it must crawl past the pollinia to escape and thus facilitate the pollination process.
The leaves of Trim Greenhoods, P. concinna, are being seen in a number of sites with a few in bud now. The rosettes are lighter in colour than the Nodding Greenhood rosettes—almost a bluish green, and the leaves are stalked. The neat single flower has a notched labellum which can just be seen appearing at the opening.
The tiny Mosquito Orchids, Acianthus pusillus, are appearing in various places. They form vast colonies with heart-shaped leaves, purple underneath. The green to dark brown insect-like flowers have a dainty habit with the column arched over the labellum, short narrow sepals held closely together and tiny wing-like petals.
There are colonies of rounded heavily veined, ground-hugging leaves appearing throughout the district. These are the Small Gnat Orchid, Cyrostylis reniformis. Sometimes mistaken for Corybas leaves, the heavy veins are the distinguishing feature. We are awaiting the appearance of the first of our Corybas species, the Small Helmet Orchid, C. unguiculatus. This orchid usually flowers in June so leaves should be appearing soon.
Other leaves that you may notice include Wax-lip Orchids, Spider Orchids, various Sun Orchids, Redbeaks, Leek Orchids, Flying Duck Orchids and Nodding and Tall Greenhoods. The elliptical leaves of Parsons Bands are appearing now their flowers have finished. The Autumn Bird Orchid, Chiloglottis curviclavia, is still producing a few flowers, and the greatly elongated spent flowers can be seen amongst the colonies of leaves. There are still some nice specimens of Brown-tipped Greenhoods, Pterostylis clivosa, flowering.
Please let us know of your orchid discoveries. They are all documented and photographed in Orchids of the Anglesea District available from Angair.
Alison Watson and Margaret MacDonald