Two orchid species that never fail to delight viewers when they discover them in the Anglesea district are our Hare Orchids – Leporella fimbriata Fringed Hare Orchid and Leptoceras menziesii Hare Orchid.
Belonging, as you can see, to two different genera, these two orchid species are endemic to southern Australia and both, although not common, are widespread in our district.
The two species are given the common name of Hare Orchid, referring to the erect petals that resemble a hare’s ears.
Fringed Hare Orchids Leporella fimbriata are an autumn species, and are flowering at the present time. After dying back following the flowering season, the tubers remain dormant in the ground until the next autumn rains, and then the orchids begin to shoot, producing flower stems to 25 cm tall. The single or paired leaves appear during, or after, flowering, and dense colonies of leaves will often be observed flat on the ground. The leaves are distinctive – ovate to 3 cm long and 2 cm wide, with red veins. There are always many more leaves than flowers. The broad, fringed labellum on the flower is a distinctive feature of the orchid. Glands on the petals exude a scent that attracts male flying ants, which carry out the pollination process.
Fringed Hare Orchid
Hare Orchids Leptoceras menziesii are more locally common than Fringed Hare Orchids, and flower in spring. Extensive colonies of leaves, which vary in shape and size, and are loosely ground-hugging, can often be seen; but very few flowers appear unless stimulated by fire when the colonies become spectacular, with sweetly perfumed flowers appearing in large numbers.
Hare Orchids after fire
The flower stems can grow to about 20 cm tall. The red petals have clubbed tips, and are covered with dense glands. The two, white, prominent lateral sepals curve downwards.
This is a very special orchid to me, as it introduced me to the world of orchids, when my sister, Kathie, and I found a small colony of these delightful flowers on top of the Moggs Creek ridge in 1990.
Other orchids to look for in the next few weeks are Chiloglottis reflexa Autumn Bird Orchids, Pterostylis parviflora Tiny Greenhoods, P. sp. aff. parviflora Brown Tipped Greenhoods, P. sp. aff. revoluta Autumn Greenhoods and P. sanguinea Banded Greenhoods.
Please let us know of your orchid discoveries as they help to build up the picture of our orchid world.
Photos and descriptions of all these orchids are documented in Orchids of the Anglesea District available from Angair.