The exciting find of the month was the discovery of the Winter Sun Orchid Thelymitra hiemalis by a member of the Australasian Native Orchid Society.
Listed as rare and threatened, this is a strange-looking orchid with star-like sepals and petals. The sepals are green, the petals blue to lavender with distinctive dark spots. The flowers are very short-lived.
Most of the Greenhoods have now finished flowering, but the Bearded Greenhood Pterostylis sp. aff plumosa (Anglesea) is at its peak, flowering, extremely well throughout the district. Bearded Greenhoods are widespread in Victoria, and in some other Australian states. However the Anglesea orchid is slightly different.
The plant has a basal rosette of about 10–12 leaves, often extending up the flower stem that grows to about 30 cm tall, and bears a single white and green flower with darker stripes. The hood ends in a long point, much like the beak of a bird. The labellum is covered with sparse, long, golden hairs, and ends in a darkish knob. The lateral sepals spread and point downwards.
A second species of Bearded Greenhood, Southern Bearded Greenhood Pterostylis tasmanica, also grows in the district. It is much shorter, the basal rosette is smaller, the labellum is more densely covered, the hood has a blunt tip and the lateral sepals stay fused together.
While we have had some good orchid observations during September, the overall picture is disappointing. The cold weather and the lack of rain seem to have affected orchid growth. Spider Orchids are very sparse on the ground, and the Sun Orchids, that are appearing, are much smaller than usual. However, there are species to find, so it is worth walking along the tracks.
The burnt area in the Great Otway National Park at the top of Harvey St, just past the houses, had great clumps of Bluebeard Orchids Pheladenia deformis in August, and there are presently some very impressive colonies of Hare Orchids Leptoceras menziesii and Redbeaks Pyrorchis nigricans. There are numbers of the Tall Leek Orchid Prasophyllum elatum just breaking their leaves and displaying their flower stem. They should be beautiful in the next few weeks. Please take care not to trample flowers if you are walking in the area.
Thanks to those people who are sending reports of orchid observations, and remember that photos and descriptions of all our orchids can be found in Orchids of the Anglesea District available from Angair.