We are still finding specimens of both the Tiny Greenhood, Pterostylis parviflora, and the Brown–tipped Greenhood, P. clivosa, but our attention has now been drawn to the Banded Greenhood, P. sanguinea, that is certainly doing itself proud, flowering in many sites throughout the district.
Admittedly many of the flowering stems with their spreading narrow stem leaves are short, but nevertheless the flowers are just as striking as usual. It grows as either a single plant or in a loose colony. The reddish-brown lateral sepals are the feature of this orchid especially if they capture the sunlight behind them. The hood curves over the flower and is strongly marked with dark stripes. The labellum lies flat on the lateral sepals and is triggered upwards if touched by an insect, trapping it inside the hood and against the column.
The insect must then crawl up past the stigma and pollinia to escape, thus pollinating the orchid. Non-flowering plants have a rosette of about five or six flat leaves that have a distinctive central vein.
Banded Greenhood rosette
The next greenhood that should be flowering in May is the Striped Greenhood, P. striata. It is rare in our area, known only from one site in Anglesea and on two private residential blocks in Aireys Inlet. Hopefully it may grow in other areas and we would love to hear if you find it.
Unfortunately it has not appeared at either of the known sites this year so it seems that the rains were too late to encourage its growth. In similar fashion to the Banded Greenhood, it has leaves up the flowering stem, and the leafy rosette appears on non-flowering plants only. The single flower has prominent dark green stripes, and the hood that has brownish markings and ends in a sharp point.
The Tall Greenhood, P. melagramma, looks like having a great flowering season if the autumn rains continue. They are appearing in large numbers throughout the district, while the Nodding Greenhood, P. nutans, is forming carpets of ground-hugging rosettes. Both could be flowering in time for our next newsletter.
A different genus of orchid that has had a wonderful flowering season is the Fringed Hare Orchid, Leporella fimbriata, flowering for a number of weeks now. Dense colonies of the solitary or paired distinctive ovate leaves with their red stripes are found in a number of areas, but there are usually just a few flowers.
Fringed Hare Orchid
The flower stems grow to about 25cm tall and bear one to three quite spectacular flowers. The two erect petals resemble a hare’s ears, while the fringed labellum gives rise to the name Fringed Hare Orchid. The two lateral sepals hang downwards.
Fringed Hare Orchid leaves
Mosquito Orchids, Acianthus pusillus, are also starting to flower. You will see their familiar green heart-shaped leaf, purple underneath forming large colonies throughout the district.
Mosquito Orchid leaf
After all our lovely autumn rains it is a great time to explore the orchid world. Please let us know of your successes. Photos and descriptions of all our orchids are found in Orchids of the Anglesea District available from Angair.