Anglesea has certainly had plenty of visitors coming to view our orchids over the past few weeks.People who came to the Angair Wildflower Weekend, and more recently the members of the Australian Naturalists Network (ANN), were very impressed with the display of orchids in the district.
There were many orchids to admire—some in small numbers and others in large colonies like the ‘herd’ of Donkey Orchids, Diuris orientis, that appeared in the Harvey St area near the telecommunications towers in late September.
However, it was the Large White Spider Orchids, Caladenia venusta, that stole the limelight blowing everyone away with the quantity and quality of their flowers. Just a few were open for the Angair show, but the next few weeks saw a profusion of flowers, especially in the Harvey St area, and were at their peak for the ANN visits in early October.
These large white to cream flowers to 12 cm across have long drooping segments tipped with brownish-red glandular hairs and a white labellum with deep-red toothed margins and calli. They are just so spectacular as they grow in clusters around the tree trunks and amongst the native grasses. It is not a common orchid but is a widespread species occurring mainly in coastal heathy woodlands but extending well inland in western Victoria.
Large White Spider Orchid
One of our other well-known orchids, the Mantis Orchid, Caladenia tentaculata, has also been flowering well. This large greencomb spider has green petals and sepals with a maroon stripe down the centre. The dorsal and lateral sepals have yellow clubs on their ends. The feature is of course the large loosely hinged labellum with a deep maroon tip and large green marginal teeth rising above the top of the column. The species is widespread across much of Victoria, growing in a variety of habitats.
Both of these species are easy to identify, but at times we are left puzzling, as the two species hybridise and it is quite common to find spectacular flowers that have the characteristics of both parents in varying degrees—the long drooping segments, the green comb, the maroon stripe, the red teeth, the maroon tip!
Just now with the hot weather appearing, our sun orchids have burst onto the scene and we are seeing many of these colourful flowers, ranging from the small yellow Twisted Sun Orchids, Thelymitra flexuosa, to the large blue Great Sun Orchids, Thelymitra aristata. Some of the sun orchid species are difficult to identify—my advice is to just enjoy their beauty, and if you are keen to know their name, you need to look carefully at the columns and other distinguishing features.
They are all photographed and identified in Orchids of the Anglesea District available from Angair, and also of course in many other orchid texts.
Also be alert for the Flying Ducks Caleana major that are just coming into bloom.
Thanks to those people who are sharing your orchid discoveries—I do appreciate them.