The recent autumn rains have certainly brought the bush to life, and many of our later flowering, autumn terrestrial orchids have suddenly appeared.
I had the pleasure of observing eleven species when I went out and about last week:
Bearded Midge Orchids Corunastylis morrisii; Sharp Midge Orchids C. despectans (five flowering stalks); Fringed Midge Orchids C. ciliata (about ten late flowering stalks); Parson’s Bands Eriochilus cucullatus; Mosquito Orchids Acianthus pusillus; Fringed Hare Orchids Leporella fimbriata; Tall Bird Orchids Chiloglottis trilabra; the early-flowering greenhoods – Tiny Greenhoods Pterostylis parviflora; Brown Tipped Greenhoods P. sp. aff. parviflora; Banded Greenhoods P. sanguinea (in good bud); and the very spectacular Autumn Greenhoods P. sp. aff. revoluta.
Every time I see an Autumn Greenhood in bloom, I recall the first time I saw this beautiful flower.
My sister, Kath, and I were checking the Allardyce Track area where the late Mary D. White had sent us to view Tiny Greenhoods for the first time; low and behold we stumbled on this magnificent flower standing tall at the base of one of the trees. We realised it was not a Tiny Greenhood, and were very pleased to make the acquaintance of this impressive flower. Unfortunately, it has not been observed in the Gum Flat area for a number of years, and we only know of its presence in Greenhood Reserve in Aireys Inlet (transplanted there with permission from a local landowner by myself and Everett Foster about five years ago), and on private land at Aireys Inlet where it is flowering at the present time. It is sure to be growing in other areas, and we would love to have more records.
Growing to about 25cm tall the flowering stalk does not have a ground rosette – rosettes are found on non-flowering plants only. The flower is the largest of our greenhood flowers – the hood is up to 40 mm in length. It is solitary, white and green striped, brown-tinged at the apex. The long pointed labellum extends prominently through the frontal opening.
By contrast, the Brown Tipped Greenhood and the Tiny Greenhood are the smallest of our flowering greenhoods. The tiny, inward facing flowers appear in autumn and winter. They are easily distinguishable. Both are green and white striped, but, as the name implies, the Brown Tipped Greenhood has brownish tips on the petals and sepals.
The hoods of both species are about 10 mm in length. The Tiny Greenhood flower stem is up to 25 cm tall, the Brown Tipped Greenhood slightly taller to 30cm.
However, the flowering stalks of both species are often much shorter. Small rosettes can sometimes be observed, forming on side-shoots from the roots beside the flowering plants. Both species can be found in many locations around Anglesea, growing in woodland and heathy woodland habitats.
It is a delight to be out in the field at the moment. I hope you can find time to renew your acquaintance with our autumn flowering species. I am only too happy to share locations with you.
Photos and descriptions of all the orchids that grow in the Anglesea district are documented in Orchids of the Anglesea District available from Angair.