Where Have All the Growers Gone?


The following article is the longer version of the summary that will appear in the September 2021 NOSSA Journal. John Eaton, the NOSSA Speaker Co-ordinaor, has written passionately on his summary of Les Nesbitt’s talk given at the August General meeting. He completes his summary with an echo of Les’ appeal for the next generation of orchid growers whose expertise is so necessary for the continuting conservation of our unique orchids.


In one of NOSSA’s most significant and challenging meetings for many years, members were treated to a talk by our Patron, Les Nesbitt – whimsically titled – “Where have all the Growers Gone?” – after the 1955 Pete Seeger song-lament. Les integrated our NOSSA history into his talk.

Les was a founding member of NOSSA which was formed on 22nd March, 1977 – 44 years ago, with 44 very keen members. NOSSA membership had grown to 100 members by the year’s end.

The fledgling Native Orchid Society of SA first met at “Goody Tech” alias Goodwood Boys Technical High School. From then on – it was “All Go!” in those early years.

NOSSA’s second meeting soon saw the formation of the Seed Bank where new members were given Ptst. curta tubers from Roy Hargreave’s wash trough.

Our first three orchid displays – between 1978-1980 – were held in conjunction with the South Coast Orchid Club at Marion. The first (judged) NOSSA Show was held in 1981 – in the Supper Room at the September monthly meeting. By the following year (1982) it had expanded into the first NOSSA Public Show –held at The Orphanage, Goodwood.

The aims of the Public Show were four-fold

  • To educate the public
  • To raise Society funds
  • To exhibit members plants
  • To obtain new members

Over one thousand people attended this first public show! – almost ten times the number we would expect nowadays.

In 1983, these NOSSA Public Orchid Shows moved to The St Peters Town Hall where they remained for many years until the venue became too expensive.

Native Orchid “Rescue Digs” to preserve native orchid species threatened by development, occurred throughout the 80’s & 90’s. Les regarded these as the “golden years” for Native Orchid growers which continued until 1996 – the year that NOSSA sponsored the Australian Native Orchid Society (ANOS) Conference at Flinders University.

Thereafter the Shows were transferred to St Bernadette’s where they remained until 2019. Les then presented some pictures of these Native Orchid exhibits and pots from previous years and from the SAROC Fairs of 2017-2019 and 2021.

Les outlined NOSSA’s many efforts to create a new cohort of growers amongst members. Early members were growers, exhibitors, bushwalkers & photographers. However our current membership seems less interested in growing and exhibiting, preferring to focus instead on recording native orchids in the field – during bushwalking.

Les stressed the importance of growing in the preservation of indigenous native orchid species, especially as we face climate change. He then threw members a challenge, stressing the importance of growing native orchids to ensure their preservation in the hard years ahead – for all things green!

To support would-be growers, he referred members to some valuable references – such as NOSSA’s Green 1985 handbook: “Native Orchids of South Australia” – an invaluable guide to members interested in growing Native Orchids. There are also numerous articles on orchid culture in the early NOSSA Journals.

Lamentably, the emphasis nowadays is more on photographing and recording terrestrial native orchids in the field.

Les also mentioned the Tuber Bank, successfully run by Jane Higgs until severe frosts killed her orchids. Sadly, there are no members prepared to organise it now.

Les also mentioned other significant initiatives such as the New Members’ Group that met before General meetings, the 2016 “Flagship Orchids” 1-day orchid workshop initiative of the Australian Association of Bush Regenerators – in creating orchid-enhanced habitats.

Les also mentioned the $2.00 seedling plant-growing competitions with annual recalls until the first plant flowerings and the 2016 and 2017 Seed kits for the culture of – (mycorrhizal) fungus-dependent terrestrial orchids. These included detailed growing instructions –still available to those willing to “give growing a go!”

Notwithstanding the Covid-19 challenges, there were the most recent propagation initiatives of 2020-2021.

In a recent talk, Robert Lawrence has described the importance of indigenous native orchids as an indicator species of a healthy bushland. If we don’t respond to the challenges Les has thrown out to our membership – it may be a matter of “Where have all the orchids gone – long time passing”! There won’t be any orchids left for us to photograph. So it’s really up to us!

Who’s prepared to step up to the challenge?

I’m rapidly approaching 80! It’s too late for me to build space-demanding infrastructure such as a temperature-regulated shade-house/green-house and benching tables. But I do want to “step up to the plate” as a native orchid mini grower! I believe that the years ahead will be challenging ones for anything green, including me! Les reminded us that our common terrestrial are most at threat as the seedbanks of researchers tend to focus on the rare and endangered terrestrials.

Les’s talk has challenged me to establish a local (indigenous) terrestrial orchid presence in my native garden – where I’ve already got a burgeoning population of Microtis – dumped accidently in one of the loads of woodchips that replaced my lawn – 30 years ago. I’m hoping this indicates the presence of sufficient mycorrhizae to help me to establish some of the common greenhoods that Les said were most at threat from climate change. And hopefully, they will keep the microtis company! Dr Teresa Lebel, a speaker I’ve scheduled for March 22nd, 2022 is a fungi expert.

I hope Les’s talk – or if you missed it – this inadequate account of it – will challenge you, also – to become a mini-grower. As Henry Schoenheimer once said of our finite, depleting – and depleted – planet – in his book of the same name – “Small is Beautiful”!

John Eaton, NOSSA Speaker Coordinator, 28/08/2021

2021 May Talk – Orchids & Ecological Restoration

Robert Lawrence, NOSSA vice-President, was the speaker at the May 25th meeting. He spoke on his work in Native Vegetation Restoration projects in South Australia. Throughout his years of work, Robert monitored the orchids using them as a tool to assess the effectiveness of weed control.

In this talk, he shares the lessons learnt and conclusions he has drawn as a result. He concludes that orchids can be used as a Key Performance Indicator of the success of native restoration work. He cites Heather Whiting – the understorey drives the ecosystem in successful restoration.

So onto the video …

2021 June Talk – Photostacking Australian Orchids

For the June Native Orchid Society of South Australia’s meeting we were privelaged to have June Niejalke speak to our members about how to use photostacking when photographing our beautiful orchids.

Photographing our exquisite orchids is a challenge due to their size and the need to use macro. Sharp focus seems to elude many of us and for many years, we have admired her sharp images that has enabled us to see the hidden details of these tiny bush gems.

It was a pleasure to listen to her share her photographic methods. I hope you too find this video as helpful as those who were at the meeting found it.

2020 September Talk – Orchids and Fire

The Native Orchid Society is involved in many different activities, one of them being to assist researchers. In 2020, Covid 19 struck bringing many university projects to a halt. But in South Australia, NOSSA members were able to help PhD candidate Alex Thomsen, University of New South Wales, set up her project titled Impacts of Changing Fire Seasons on Orchids. The following video is her brief presentation of her planned research that she gave to the general membership at the September meeting.

COVID-19 Could Not Stop Us

2020 started like most other years but that didn’t last for long. March is the anniversary of when the world went into lockdown. All due to Covid 19!

So like most other organisations here in Adelaide, NOSSA was immediately and suddenly impacted. All plans went out the window. Face to face activities ceased and it was some months before even a semblance of meetings resumed.

Yet despite all the difficulties and challenges, when the committee looked back over the year we were amazed at what we did achieve and so here is our list of 2020 – Covid19 could not keep us down!

NOSSA 2020 highlights instigated – Lindy McCallum, adapted from the February 2021 Journal

AGM

Delayed but not out.
Held in September (instead of March) via Zoom and face-to-face meeting.

Committee Meetings

Following a brief hiatus, the committee made use of email communications and then Zoom meetings. From June the committee used a mix of face-to-face and Zoom meetings.

  • Finally the opportunity to have members present when unable to attend!

Monthly meetings

Combination Face to Face and Zoom meetings from July
Results

  • Speaker Zoomed from Sydney
  • Country, interstate and overseas members are now able to join the meeting from afar

Shows and Displays

  • Display at Mt Pleasant Library
  • Stand at Australian Plant Society Spring Show
    • New location within the RAH Showgrounds
    • Good interest and good sales

YouTube Channel

Conservation Activity

  • NOSSA and other friends group worked with Forestry SA monitoring a damaged site at Knott Hill
    • We were heartened by the recovery that is happening
  • Monitoring
    • Thelymitra cyanapicata
    • Calochilus cupreus
  • Seed collection
    • Caladenia gladiolata
    • Thelymitra epipactoides
    • Caladenia strigosa

Propagation

  • New people trained in propagation techniques
  • Members completed the full cycle of propagation
    • Flasking
    • Replating
    • Deflasking and planting out the new plants
  • Two benches of shadehouse rescued Dendrobiums grown on for sale and raffles

Grants

  • Diuris behrii Project from Hillgrove Copper (project is almost complete)
    • 190 plants returned to Hillgrove
  • ForestrySA
    • Orchid identification and Wild Orchid Watch workshops
      • General public
      • Highschool children from Oakbank

Research

  • NOSSA members were able to locate and set up orchid quadrats for a Uni of NSW PHD candidate who was unable to visit South Australia because lockdown.

Field trips

  • After a brief hiatus, regular fieldtrips were recommenced from spring
  • August Yorke Peninsula to Crosser Scrub & Edithburgh
  • September Eyre Peninsula field trip went ahead with COVID 19 modifications

Wild Orchid Watch

  • NOSSA supported the launch of WOW
  • WOW presentation given at the August General Meeting and uploaded onto YouTube

Orchid Code of Ethics

  • Covered Sensitive Site visits and ethical photography
    • This had been in the pipeline for many years but finally came to fruition
  • Presented at the November General meeting, videoed and uploaded onto YouTube

Constitution

  • Ratified at the Annual General Meeting in September

Calendar 2021

  • Despite some hurdles, was produced in time for  2021

What a year—despite COVID we achieved so many things!

Orchid Code of Ethics or How I can conserve our native orchids

So many of us are interested in preserving our native flora and fauna, and for NOSSA it is the native orchids. But many of us may not be aware of how we can play a significant role in minimising our impact upon the environment so that they are still around for our children and grandchildren

The following video is a brief overview of two documents that NOSSA has produced. They are guidelines to help individuals know how they can minimalize their impact on the environment and so assist in the conservation of our beautiful and unique native orchids.

Below are the links to the documents referred to in the video:

Code of Ethics – Sensitive Sites 2 page
Code of Ethics – Sensitive Sites 3 page
Code of Ethics – Photography

Ethical Nature Photography in Tasmania

Australian Orchids: Their Role in Human Lives

In July, NOSSA resumed face to face meetings but with an innovation. We introduced Zoom meeting as part of our face to face meeting. We are hoping that this will allow more members to become involve with the meetings.

Our first speaker, Greg Steenbeeke, spoke to the meeting from Sydney; and we had another member joining in from Victoria. Greg kindly allowed us to record his talk which is available for all to hear.

Australian Orchids: Their Role in Human Lives
Speaker: Greg Steenbeeke

Anyone wanting to join our General Meeting, please contact the treasurer via email – nossa.treasurer@gmail.com

Petalochilus – when use of a segregate or common name is helpful

The following article is from the Native Orchid Society of South Australia Journal Volume 44 No 7, author Rosalie Lawrence.

Over the years there have been many orchid name changes (particularly at genus level), some quite drastic, some multiple times and for many there can be a reversion back. Yes, this creates confusion but there are times when some of these name changes, known as segregates (both at species and genus level) can be useful.

Caladenia carnea (synonym Petalochilus carneus) Photographer Lindsay Ames

A case in point, is Lindsay Ames’ winning photograph (June) – Caladenia carnea synonym Petalochilus carneus. Petalochilus was proposed as a genus in 2001 by DL Jones, MA Clements, et al. It was one of many proposed genera changes. Many discussion papers followed but in 2015 after further taxonomic and DNA work, Mark Clements et al published a paper that “points to Lindley’s 1840 interpretation of Caladenia (…..) as being the most accurate reflection of the group.” Hence the discontinued use of Petalochilus and the other segregate genera.

So, it currently belongs with Caladenia, a large genus with over 350 species (mainly in Australia). It is a genus with great morphological (visual) diversity – compare Caladenia tentaculata with C. cucullata or C. flava. But Caladenia
subgenera Caladenia (synonym Petalochilus*), as a much smaller segregate genus allows us to visualize a specific group within the Caladenia genus.

Caladenia flava Photographer Pauline Meyer

Caladenia sens. lat. are characterised by single hairy leaf, lacking lobes or serrations; hairy stem; showy flowers with similar sepals & petals. The labellum is highly modified consisting of three lobes with calli on the middle lobe.

Caladenia tentaculata (synonym Arachnorchis tentaculata) Photographer Jane Higgs

Petalochilus is further characterised by small (1 – 5 cm) pink to white flowers,
short broad forward projecting tepals; erect to slightly incurved dorsal sepal,
distinct trilobe labellum, hinged, with calli and red transverse bars, column
green to pink with red to purple bars.

Caladenia carnea (synonym Petalochilus carneus) Photographer: Rob Pauley

Yet within Petalochilus itself there can be further groupings of which P carneus is most likely the main one. This consists of at least 8 species – P carneus (C carnea), P catenatus (C catenata), P coactilis (C coactilis), P fuscatus (C fuscata), P ornatus (C ornata), P prolatus (C prolata) , P. vulgaris (C vulgaris) and P xantholeucus (C xantholeuca). When a specimen cannot be identified to species level, it may be helpful to refer to it as a complex.

This is where comes the fun of trying to identify the specific species in the field (or for that matter from a photograph). To help myself understand, I often produce comparison charts based on descriptions found in the literature. The chart comparing the eight species is available as a pdf.

Caladenia prolata (Petalochilus prolatus) Photographer: Helen Lawrence

*Throughout the article the synonym Petalochilus is used for Caladenia subgenera Caladenia to make a clear distinction from Caladenia sens lat. It needs
to be noted C carnea is considered the type specimen for Caladenia so with any splits, it will remain in Caladenia.

References

Backhouse G et al,Bush Gems: a guide to the Wild Orchids of Victoria 2016
Bates R B South Australia’s Native Orchids 2011
Clements MA, et al, Caladenia Revisited: Results of Molecular Phylogenetic Analyses of Caladeniinae Plastid and Nuclear Loci 2015
Jones DJ, A Complete Guide to Australian Orchids including it Territories and Islands 2006
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caladenia Accessed 3 August 2020
https://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/Petalochilus Accessed 3 August 2020

Thank you to Andrew Brown for reviewing this article.

Photograph Competition & Benched Plants July 2020

Email your votes for both the competition and benched plants to Marg Paech, nossa.editor@gmail.com by 5 pm July 27 2020

1. Thelymitra jacksonii
2. Diuris magnifica
3. Thelymitra cyanapicta
4. Urochilus sanguineus (syn Pterostylis sanguinea
5. Diuris sp
6. Urochilus sanguineus (synonym Pterostylis sanguinea)
7. Pyrorchis nigricans
8. Arachnorchis leptochila (synonym Caladenia leptochila)
9. Prasophyllum australae
10 Paintings of Caleana major, Corybas diemenica and Diuris orientis

BENCHED PLANTS

A. Pterostylis robusta, Red Form
B. Pterostylis ‘Nodding Grace’
C. Pterostylis robusta
D. Pterostylis sanguinea
E. Acianthus pusillus