The autumn rains, with the accompanying sunshine, have certainly encouraged the growth of terrestrial orchids in the district.
The Banded Greenhood Pterostylis sanguinea is having a very good season, with rosettes, buds and flowers appearing in many areas. This is a readily recognised orchid, with its colour and unique shape ensuring that it is not confused with any other species. The leafy rosettes, which are only present on non-flowering plants, consist of 5 to 6 flat leaves and are an indication that the orchid tubers are healthy. The flowering plant produces a stem to 35 cm tall, with several, narrow, stem leaves. The reddish-brown flower, with transparent patches, is usually nodding, its hood curved over the large lateral sepals that almost form a circle. The labellum, which is fringed with hairs, lies flat against the lateral sepals. When it is touched by an insect, the labellum is triggered against the column, trapping the insect inside, from where it must escape by crawling up past the stigma and pollinia, thus assisting pollination.
The Striped Greenhood Pterostylis striata is another orchid to be looking for, as it is flowering at this time. It is a very rare orchid in the district, known only from three, very small colonies. The orchid is distinguished by its translucent white and boldly striped, dark green flowers. The hood ends with a down-curved apex, and the long lateral sepals often curve forward. It has a leafy flower stem with four to ten leaves.
There are signs of other greenhood orchids on the sides of many of the tracks, with rosettes and buds appearing – Nodding Greenhoods Pterostylis nutans, Tall Greenhoods P. melagramma, Trim Greenhoods P. concinna, Blunt Greenhoods P. curta and Dwarf Greenhoods P. nana.
Mosquito Orchids Acianthus pusillus are beginning to flower, and leaves of Gnat Orchids Cyrtostylis reniformis are breaking through the moist soil.
This is also the time to start looking for Helmet Orchids Corybas sp. Unfortunately, with the Cecil Track fuel reduction burn, we have lost (hopefully temporarily) habitat for many of our helmet orchids. Please let us know of any orchid discoveries.
Note that all these species are documented in Orchids of the Anglesea District available from Angair, and please share your orchid finds with us as it helps to develop the bigger picture.