Diplodium robustum or Diplodium sp Adelaide Hills?

The following article has been adapted from the 2019 July Winning Photograph

The July competition resulted in a draw. This article will concentrate upon only one of the winner’s – Lisa Incoll’s photograph of a Diplodium sp. found in the Southern Lofty Ranges.

Sometimes images are sent through unnamed or with only the genus named as in the case of Lisa’s picture. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to determine the identity from only one photograph beyond the genus level. In this case it can be seen that it is a Pterostylis but since the introduction of a segregate genera it is possible to narrow it down further to Diplodium sp.

Since there are two main Diplodium found in the Adelaide Hills (D. robustum and D. sp Adelaide Hills), I thought it would be a good opportunity to compare these two species.

The phrase name D. sp Adelaide Hills is used to distinguish it from D. alatum (syn. Pterostylis alata) which is considered to be endemic to Tasmania. The mainland species P. striata was previously known as P. alata. The eFlora-SA, the Adelaide Herbarium online key and census of the SA Flora has D. sp Adelaide Hills listed as P. alata (syn D. alatum).

D. sp Adelaide Hills and D. robustum share many similar feeatures. In the dichotomous fey found on the eFlora-SA, the separation between the two is primarily based upon size. D. sp Adleaide Hills is generally a taller-stemmed plant with a smaller flower and smaller, more slender cauline leaves. D. robustum is mainly a larger flower on a shorter stem. However there is an overlap between D. robustum and small specimens of D. sp Adleaide Hills which can make determination of species difficult.

Based upon the descriptions and the key from eFlora-SA, Orchids of South Australia (1990) and South Australian Native Orchids (2011), the following table shows the similaritites and differences between the two species. For completeness, shared features (highlighted in bold) are also included.


Diplodium robustum
(syn. Pterostylis robusta)
Diplodium sp Adelaide Hills
(syn. D. alatum, P. alata)
Plant Height5-20cm tall (usually less than 10cm tall); robust stem8-25 cm tall; slender stem
Sterile plantsYesYes
Leaves6 – 7 ovate or elliptic-ovate (ie range from oval to egg-shaped) leaves in rosettes on long petioles3 – 8 ovate leaves in small rosettes on long petioles
Leaf edgesSmooth
Flowering PlantsNo rosettes or basal leaves No rosettes or basal leaves
Cauline LeavesAlternating leaves clasping the base & increasing in size from the base upwards. Acuminate (long drawn out point) Alternating leaves clasping the base & increasing in size from the base upwards. Acuminate
Broad (up to 8mm wide) lanceolate serrulate (tiny teeth) cauline leaves more than 3cm longSlender lanceolate, cauline leaves less than 3cm long
FLOWER
Blooms can last up to 8 weeks in sheltered placesDelicate flowers can soon collapse with strong drying winds
InflorescenceSingular flower Singular flower
ColourBright green & white with deeper green, longitudinal stripesPale-green or white with darker striations
GaleaErect; bulbous near the base Erect; bulbous near the base
Length 25 – 45 mm; diameter more than 20 mm; gradually curved forward at the apexLength 20 – 25 mm long; Diameter less than 18 mm; gradually incurved
Dorsal SepalEnds in a long fine point to 5 mm longApex blunt; ends in a short fine point
PetalsBluntBlunt or acute
Lateral SepalsErect; conjoined basally; distally, the tips produced into long filiform erect points, embracing the galea & greatly exceeding it Erect; conjoined basally; distally, the tips produced into long filiform erect points, embracing the galea & greatly exceeding it
Sinus (region where lateral sepals separate)Flat, with a wide, shallow central v-notch; protruding in a shallow curve whenviewed from the sideNarrow sinus, with a notch in the middle; not bulging
LabellumMovable claw; nearly straight Movable claw; nearly straight
Dark greenGreenish
Erect potitionRecaches height of the columnSlightly exceeding the height of the column
ColumnColumn erect Column erect
HabitatForms small to extensive colonies Forms small to extensive colonies
in rocky places; forest or scrublandsin rocky or shady locations; forest or forest heathlands
RegionsMt Lofty Ranges Mt Lofty Ranges
Flinders Ranges; Eyre Peninsula; Yorke Pensinsula; Upper South EastKangaroo Island; South East; possibly Eyre Peninsula
Rainfall areaGreater than 250 mmGreater than 600 mm
Flowering TimeMay – SeptemberMay – July

Of course, as these two hybridise, that will complicate things, Hybrids will have characteristics of both parents but, with hybrid vigour; and vigour is one of the separating features between the two!

References
http://flora.sa.gov.au/cgi-bin/speciesfacts_display.cgi?genus=Pterostylis&species=robusta Accessed 6 September 2019

http://flora.sa.gov.au/cgi-bin/speciesfacts_display.cgi?genus=Pterostylis&species=alata Accessed 6 September 2019

Bates RJ, 2011 South Australia’s Native Orchids, electronic

Bates RJ Weber JZ, 1990, Orchids of South Australia,

Corunastylis ciliata – 2019 March Winning Photograph

The winning photograph for March 2019, was Corunasylis ciliata (syn Genoplesium ciliatum). As with so many orchids, it has undergone a few name changes. Originally Prasophyllum, then Genoplesium and currently Corunastylis

Although Genoplesium was split into two with only one species remaining in Genoplesium and the others placed into Corunastylis, this split has not been accepted by the everyone. For example, eflora of SA and PlantNET use Genoplesium whilst VicFlora uses Corunastylis.

Whilst researching C. ciliatum I came across images of Prasophyllum spp. being misidentified as Corunastylis spp. and as it was originally described in Prasophyllum it seems appropriate to examine the similarities and differences between the two genera.

In South Australia (SA), the most obvious difference would appear to be size but across the rest of the country some Prasophyllum species potentially can be similar in size to the much smaller Corunastylis, although Corunastylis species are never as large as many of the Prasophyllum species.

Some of the shared features of the two genera are

  • multi-flowered on a single stem
  • single tubular leaf
  • flowers non-resupinate, that is the labellum is above the column and the dorsal sepal is below (the only other non-resupinate flowered orchids in SA are Gastrodia, Caleana, including Paracaleana, and Cryptostylis subulata)
  • Grow as scattered individuals
Prasophyllum Corunastylis
Size Tends to be a larger plant (up to 150cm), but can sometimes be as small as Corunastylis Always a small plant (maximum no more than 90mm)
Leaf Leaf sheaf opens well below the inflorescence (flower head) Leaf sheaf opens at the base of the inflorescence.
Leaf Often withered at flowering Not withered at flowering
Labellum Immobile Mobile
Usually curved backwards (recurved) resulting in an upright appearance of the flower. Not recurved resulting in a more drooping appearance of the flower
Season Mainly spring flowering Mainly autumn flowering

 

References:

Jones DL A Complete Guide to Native Orchids of Australia including the Island Territories 2006

Prasophyllum and Corunastylis descriptions from VicFlora, accessed 1 May 2029

https://vicflora.rbg.vic.gov.au/flora/taxon/bbf0eb5e-fc8d-426b-9cac-58c384474e17

https://vicflora.rbg.vic.gov.au/flora/taxon/91aa3829-ead8-407f-9db7-db2357ddb7e1

Bates R & Weber J Orchids of South Australia 1990

Jones DL, et al, Australian Orchid Genera CD-ROM 2008 CSIRO

 

Thank you to Greg Steenbeeke for reviewing the article.

 

 

Thelymitra Column Features Part Two

This article is a completion of the Thelymitra Column article which appeared in the NOSSA Journal, Volume 42 No 8 September 2018. Click here for Part One.

The first part looked at the features and terms used by botanists to describe various parts of the column, a major identification feature of the sun orchids.

And as previously stated we cannot physically dissect an individual flower, but we can make use of photographs to spot the various features.

The diagram below is that of T. nuda (based on the taxonomy of 1984) column whilst the photographs are that of T. glaucophylla column (as T. glaucophylla is one of the T. nuda complex). The column of these two are similar.

 

Thelymitra malvina (Purple Tufted Sun-Orchid)

2019 Winning Photograph Competition

Welcome to our first competition for 2019. For February we had five entries which included Pauline Meyers’ Prasophyllum species from Western Australia, Lindy McCallum’s Glossodia major  and Leptoceras menziesii, Lisa Incoll’s Thelymitra antennifera.

1902 SM Pauley Thelymitra malvina

The winner was Rob Pauley’s photograph from the south east of Thelymitra malvina (Mauve Tufted Sun Orchid) which is found in only a few places in the South East but does occur in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania and even ‘across the ditch’ in New Zealand where it is considered “an Australian species now established in the North Island”.

According to the Atlas of Living Australia, it is endangered in Victoria, South Australia,  Tasmania; of Least Concern in Queensland and there is no listing for New South Wales.

This species has been included in both the T. nuda and T. pauciflora complex for, as Jeanes has observed, it has characteristics of both complexes such as the smaller flowering forms are self-pollinating, and the larger flowering forms are insect pollinated

Though the common name, Mauve Tufted Sun Orchid, indicates that its most distinctive feature are the purple tufts on the post anther lobe, it is possible to find them with white tufts and there are other species that have purple tufts (eg in SA T. azure and T. occidentalis may have purple tufts but it is obvious from their other features that they are not at all similar to T. malvina).  There are no other closely similar species in South Australia, but on the other hand, in the eastern states, it can be confused with Thelymitra atronitida, so it is worthwhile considering some of the main differences between these two.

Although there are no other closely similar species in SA, in the eastern states it can be confused with Thelymitra atronitida, so it is worthwhile considering the differences

T. malvina T atronitida
Stem 3 sterile bracts 2 sterile bracts
Height 25 – 75 cms 30 – 50 cm
Flowers Slightly larger (but can have smaller flowers) Smaller flowers
Inflorescence 3 – 25 usually loose 2 – 8 ( – 16)
Column Reddish to dark brown with yellow apex Glossy black with yellow apex
Post anther lobe Moplike tuft of pink or mauve (rarely white) trichomes Moplike tuft of white trichomes (hairs)

Across the country, there is some variations of flowering times with New South Wales having the longest flowering time from August to November and South Australia along with Tasmania having the shortest of October and November.

REFERENCES

Bates RJ, 2011 South Australia’s Native Orchids, electronic

Backhouse G, Bush Gems, A Guide to the Wild Orchids of Victoria, Australia, 2016, electronic

VicFlora, https://vicflora.rbg.vic.gov.au/flora/taxon/0de4b1c5-3f1f-43ea-9464-c713a12d5758 Accessed 6 March 2019

VicFlora, https://vicflora.rbg.vic.gov.au/flora/taxon/748b23b6-4779-4a93-89fc-8ec2a8b05a06  Accessed 6 March 2019

Atlas of Living Australia, https://bie.ala.org.au/species/NZOR-4-76548  Accessed 6 March 2019

New Zealand Native Orchids, https://www.nativeorchids.co.nz/Descriptions/Thelymitra_malvina.html Accessed 6 March 2019

Jeanes J, 2013 An overview of the Thelymitra nuda (Orchidaceae) complex in Australia including the description of six new species https://www.rbg.vic.gov.au/documents/MuelleriaVol-31-p3-Jeanes-PDF-Accessibility.pdf Accessed 6 March 2019

Natural Value Atlas, https://www.naturalvaluesatlas.tas.gov.au/downloadattachment?id=14596  Accessed 6 March 2019

What makes an Orchid and Orchid?

Orchid flowers are extremely variable in appearance, ranging from mimicking spiders, flying ducks, helmets, ants, etc. This variety also can cause some confusion. People have mistaken a different type of flower for an orchid and vis a versa.

This raises the question of what makes an orchid an orchid? With so much variety, how can they possibly belong to the same family?

Using orchids found in the Adelaide Hills, the following video shows three key features that helps identify a flower as an orchid. These three features are found in all orchids worldwide.

So watch and enjoy …

Genus Plumatichilos

This week’s blog is from the Journal of the Native Orchid Society of South Australia, Volume 42 No 8. Leo Davis has been doing a series of articles aimed at helping members learn how to identify the orchids.

This article is about Plumatichilos, one of the segregate genera of Pterostylis. It has an unique labellum which sets it apart from the other Greenhoods. Leo wrote this article soon after David Jones named them in the Australian Orchid Review.  Will these names be accepted or not is a matter of waiting and seeing but it should be noted that they have been in manuscript form for many years. At the time of writing, they are not in the South Australian eflora.

Both the species discussed in Leo’s articles are from the Plumatiochilos plumosum complex or group.

Plumatichilos sp. Mallee Bearded Greenhood =Plumatichilos multisignatus

Plumatichilos sp. Woodland Bearded Greenhood = P. foliaceus

Unless otherwise noted, all images are Leo Davis.

Genus Plumatichilos.

Back in 1990 Bates & Weber placed all greenhood orchids in genus Pterostylis(1. pp118-143) where some of you and all Australian State Herbaria and certainly Janes & Duretto (3. pp260-269) would have them still be.  In 2001 Szlachetko erected the genus Plumatichilos.  In his Guide(4. pp286-339), Jones divided the greenhoods into 16 separate genera, these in two groups, each of eight genera.  One group all have the lateral sepals directed downwards (including Bunochilus and Urochilus) and the other eight all have them directed upwards (deflexed, as in Diplodium and Pterostylis).  Even those of you who reject the splitting and creation of the extra genera will concede that those placed in Plumatichilos, which have downward directed and partly fused lateral sepals (forming a synsepalum), are strikingly different in appearance to any other Pterostylis species.  The most obvious distinguishing features are the unique labellum and the two openings to the galea.

I had known just two species of Plumatichilos, both of which were undescribed.  I could recognise and distinguish them essentially because they grew in very different habitats and locations.  I used Bates’ tag names, Mallee Bearded Greenhood (Plumatichilos sp. Mallee Bearded Greenhood) (3. pp913-4) and Woodland Plumed or Bearded Greenhood (Plumatichilos sp. Woodland Bearded Greenhood)(1. pp915-916).   In recent weeks both (along with two other South Australian species) have been formally described.  They are now, respectively, Plumatichilos multisignatus(5. pp33-35) (Fig. 1) and P. foliaceus(5. pp30-32) (Fig. 2).  But, to a large extent, I still identify them more by the locations in which I find them than, to my eye, clearly discernable physical features.

Fig 1 P multisignatus Fig 2 P foliaceus
Fig. 1. Plumatichilos multisignatus. Monarto. Sept 10, 2012. Fig 2. Plumatichilos foliaceus. Para Wirra. Sept 11, 2013.

I had no idea what ‘barrier trichomes’ were but I saw that Jones listed them as the last of 13 dot pointed characters of genus Plumatichilos(5. p26).  Trichome simply means a hair growing from a plant epidermis.  They can be unicellar or multicellular and branched or unbranched.  The ‘barrier’ refers to its capacity to block and direct a pollinating insect to an exit path that puts it in the right posture to transfer a pollinium to the stigma (sticky receptive female part of flower).

Fig 3 Bunochilus prasinus June Niejalke Janes & Duretto, who reject the splitting of genus Pterostylis, divide it into two subgenera using the absence (subgenus Pterostylis) or the presence (subgenus Oligochaetochilus) of barrier trichomes on the column wings(3. pp262).  They place what I call Plumatichilos in the section V, Catochilus, of subgenus 2 Oligochaetochilus(3. pp266), and, yes, I see your eyes glaze over.  To them the Adelaide Hills ‘plum’ would be Pterostylis, subg. 2 Oligochaetochilus, Sec. V. Catochilus, species foliaceus.  Learning what ‘barrier trichomes’ are had me go back searching my photo library and I found images of the barrier trichomes in Bunochilus flowers that I had not previously spotted.  I have used and annotated a detail sent to me by June Niejalke. (see Fig. 3).

Fig. 3. Bunochilus prasinus. Sherlock (Type location for the species). Photo by June Niejalke.

As with all ‘true’ Pterostylis, the dorsal sepal and the two lateral petals, of the upside down flowers, are formed into a galea or cap (Fig. 1).  They are fused so closely that it can be hard to discern the join between the sepal and the comparatively small petals, especially in some less clearly striped flowers. (Figs. 1 & 2).

The typical Pterostylis galea has a single opening but in Plumatichilos there are two, a lower one, from which the uniquely formed labellum protrudes (and through which the pollinating male gnats enter) and an upper one (through which the pollinators exit) (4. p335), guided by the barrier trichomes (Fig. 4).  Through this upper opening you can observe the top of the column, including parts of it, the pollinia, the barrier trichomes, column arms and sometimes the stigma.  Two crossed filaments, in front to the pollinia, are column arms.

Fig. 4. Plumatichilos foliaceus. Scott Creek C.P. Sept 2015.

Fig 4 P foliaceus

 

Fig 5 P foliaceus.jpg The labellum (the modified third petal) (Figs 1, 2 & 5) is unlike that of any other Pterostylis sp.  It has a slightly flattened filament having a reddish-brown apical knob and two or three types of hairs along its length.  Jones describes the labellum of P. foliaceus as having three types of hairs(5. p30).  You may be able to see the short white ones (1 mm) at the base of the labellum in Fig. 5.  The longer (5-7 mm) yellow ones along the most of the length of the labellum are easy to see.  I am not sure that I can distinguish the shorter proximal (near point of attachment) yellow ones (1.5 mm).  In P. multisignatus Jones describes just two types of labellum hairs(5. p33) with the white basal ones absent, and two sorts yellow hairs, proximal ones to 1.2 mm and longer ones 5-8 mm.  To my eye, this character, two or three types of labellum hairs, is the only objective, rather than subjective , distinguishing feature between the two species that I regularly observe.

Fig. 5. Plumatichilos foliaceus. Scott Creek C.P. Sept 26, 2015.

In Fig. 5, I think that you can see that the hairs arise, in two parallel rows, not paired, from the sides of the flattened shaft of the labellum filament.

Fig 6 P foliaceus Fig. 6. Plumatichilos foliaceus in early bud. Scott Creek C.P. August 29, 2018.

Another generic character is ‘leaves sessile (no stems), ascending to erect, often with whitish or yellowish interveinal areas.’ (5. p26)  You may need to look very closely, in Fig. 6, to see these ‘windows’, mainly at the bases of the stemless leaves. 

 

References:

  1. Bates, R.J (2011). South Australian Native Orchids, DVD Issued by the Subediting Committee (NOSSA) on behalf of the
    Native Orchid Society of South Australia Incorporated.
    2. Bates, R.J. & Weber. J.Z (1990). Orchids of South Australia, A. B. Caudell, Government Printer, South Australia.
  2. Janes, J.K. & Duretto, M.F. (2010), A new classification for subtribe Pterostylidinae (Orchidaceae), reaffirming
    Pterostylis in the broad sense. Australian Systematic Botany, 23, 260–269.
  3. Jones, D.L. (2006), A Complete Guide to the Native Orchids of Australia, Reed New Holland, Australia.
    5. Jones, D.L. (2018), Six new species of Plumatichilos (Orchidaceae: Pterostylidinae) fromSouth-eastern Australia and a
    new species from New Zealand, Australian Orchid Review 83(4): 26-44.

Other articles about Plumatochilos can be found here and here.

Thelymitra Column Features Part One

The following article is the beginning of a series of discussions on identifying features of various orchid species/genera.

Thelymitra juncifolia
Thelymitra juncifolia

A previous blog (see here) referred to the importance of the column in Thelymitra but did not give details of the parts of the column which is the subject of this blog.

The columns in a Thelymitra (Sun Orchid) may be one of the main identifying features of a sun orchid and so this article looks at those features that botanists will often refer to in their descriptions.

Though we cannot physically dissect an individual flower, we can make use of photographs to spot the various features.

The diagram below is that of T. ixioides (based on the taxonomy of 1984) column whilst the photographs are that of T. juncifolia column (as T. ixioides is now considered to be limited to the eastern states). The column of these two are similar. One photograph will not give all of the features hence in this article the three photographs show all of the features except the viscid disk where the pollinia is stored. The stigmatic plate is sticky and receives the pollen for fertilization.

T juncifolia diagram photos sm

Most of the variations between the Thelymitra columns occur within the upper portion of the column. The post anther lobe can be quite varied. For instance, with T. ixioides/T. juncifolia the post anther lobe is not hooded. Some with hoods may have deep splits, whilst others form a broad fringe. Yet again, others have variations within the column arms such as having no cilia. This will be dealt with in further articles.

2018 August Winning Photograph

1808 sm JP Corysanthes incurva Penola CP

This month’s winner was Jenny Pauley’s photograph of a Corybas incurvus (syn Corysanthes incurva).

Before looking specifically at the species, it might well be worthwhile looking at the features that distinguish the Corysanthes (Toothed Helmet Orchid) group from Corybas (Spurred Helmet Orchid). The major difference appears to be in the flowers. The Corybas flower is dominated by the dorsal sepal which hides the labellum whereas with the Corysanthes the dorsal sepal and labellum are equally prominent although sometimes the dorsal sepal may be the less dominant. A less obvious difference occurs in the leaves. Corysanthes leaves have a fine point but this is absent in Corybas. Based on this only Corysanthes (Toothed Helmet Orchid) occurs in South Australia.

C. incurva, as part of the Corysanthes group, is interesting because the flower does not appear flared or toothed. But though the labellum curves in, it does initially start to flare, and it does have fine short teeth. In fact, in the early stages of the flower opening it can be possible to confuse it with the opening bud of C. diemenica. One of the differences between these two species is that the flower of C. incurva sits on the leaf with no clearly visible stem whilst C. diemenica is raised above the leaf with a visible stem.

This image of a typical Corybas from Colin Rowan, retiredaussie.com , helps to see the difference between Corysanthes and Corybas.

https://i1.wp.com/www.retiredaussies.com/ColinsHome%20Page/OrchidsNSW/Corybas/Corybas%20dowlingii%20Red%20Lanterns/Corybas%20dowlingii%20Red%20LanternsP1180804.JPG

This image of C. diemenica (syn Corybas diemenicus) is a good comparison. Note the difference between the stems.

Corybas demenicus
Corybas demenicus

June 2018 Winning Photograph

1806 sm JB T epipactoides1

 

An advantage of entering a photograph is that it does not need to be in season. This month John Fennell entered an autumn flowering Corunastylis fuscoviride and a late spring/early summer flowering Diuris sulpherea, Robert and Rosalie Lawrence both entered the winter flowering Diplodium robustum and the winning picture, John Badger’s Thelymitra epipactoides is an early spring flowering orchid.

Sun Orchids are another popular winner of the competitions and as there was a comprehensive article written on Thelymitra epipactiodes and as some have asked “what, actually, is a sun orchid?”, it is time to answer the general question about Sun Orchids.

Of all the Australian terrestrial orchids Thelymitra or Sun Orchid is the one that looks the least like an orchid as all the segments – the sepals and petals including the labellum – are very similar in appearance. They mimic the flowers of the Lilliaceae and Goodeniaceae families.

Nevertheless, it is an orchid as evidenced by the column. Columns are a unique feature of orchids. They are the combination of the reproductive organs into one structure. Between the different Thelymitra species, it is the column that is often the main distinguishing feature used in identification. Because, the column is quite detailed and so important in identification, we plan to feature this in future Journals.

Other general features of Thelymitra are single, non-hairy, mainly linear leaf (of course, there are always exceptions) with a single flower stem. Flowers range from being singular to having multiple flowers which come in a range of colours from yellow to pinks to blues. Despite the lack of nectar, most Thelymitra are bee pollinated but there are some that are self-pollinated. The pollinia instead of being yellow are white and it is not unusual to see the white pollen on the self-pollinating flowers.

Reference

Bates, R. J., ed. (2011). South Australian Native Orchids. Electronic version, 2011. NOSSA

Jones, D. L., A Complete Guide to Native Orchids of Australia Including the Island Territories. Reed New Holland

Jones, D. L.; Hopely, T; Duffy, S. M.; Richards, K. J.; Clements, M. A and Zhang X, Australian Orchid Genera an information and identification system. Electronic version, 2006, CSIRO

Thelymitra https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thelymitra Accessed 4 July 2018

May 2018 Winning Photograph

One never knows what species will be entered each month – this month’s entries included Andrew Primer’s Eriochilus collinus, John Fennell’s Prasophyllum elatum, Marg Paech’s Pterostylis nutans and the winning picture, Pauline Meyer’s Arachnorchis sp. (which has subsequently been identified as Arachnorchis sp.)

 

1805 sm PM Arachnorchis sp

In the last six years there have been over a dozen photo competition articles (the most recent April 2018) written on some aspects related to Spider Orchids. So, with another Spider Orchid winning the competition it is about time to answer the question – What Is A Spider Orchid?

 

Around the world, the common name Spider Orchid has been bestowed upon a number of orchids in different genera. In Australia, they have principally been applied to a large group within the genus Caladenia, a highly diverse cumbersome genus.

Caladenia in the broad sense is distinguished by erect flower stem and single linear, ovate to lanceolate leaf, (both hairy), labellum distinctly different from the other segments, generally fringed, curved and decorative calli. But within this genus it has been recognised for a long time that there are several distinct but varied groups, which has been reflected in the common names – Dragon, Pink Fingers, Hare, Spider, Wispy Spider, etc.

Consequently in 2001, several segregate genera were published including Arachnorchis for the common named Spider Orchids. This was not widely accepted, as reflected by the Herbaria of Australia. Indeed the original authors are no longer using the segregate names.

Yet despite all that, the segregate names have proved to be very practical for fieldwork. By using the segregate name when species is unknown, extra information is communicated. This was the case with Pauline’s picture. Yes she photographed a Caladenia but which one? It was an Arachnorchis species.

With that in mind, it is time to consider the features that make up a Spider Orchid or Arachnorchis.

In following through a dichotomous key Arachnorchis is immediately separated out from the rest of the Caladenia by the presence of two yellow waxy glands at the base of the column. As this is not the immediate feature seen, the following chart comparing it with the very similar looking Joneseopsis should assist with recognising some of the main distinguishing features.

  SPIDER ORCHIDS
(ARACHNORCHIS)
WISPY SPIDER OR DADDY LONG LEGS
(JONESIOPSIS)
Leaf Sparse to densely hairy
Narrow to broad lanceolate
Red base
Sparsely hairy
Slender
Red base
Stem Wiry densely hairy Hairy wiry
Flower    
Dorsal sepal Erect Erect
Tepals

(Petals & Sepals)

Long & slender with long slender glandular tails or thickened short to long clubs*

Petals and sepals similar size

Narrow, end in very long thin threadlike glandular tails*
Labellum Trilobed
obliquely erect lateral lobes
Midlobe often differently coloured to the base
Small indistinctly lobed

Narrow

  Hinged Hinged
Apex Rolled under at the apex Rolls under*
Margins Fringed with short to long teeth* Short, blunt teeth to smooth
Calli Vary from short rounded crowded to long curved and widely spaced Short blunt congested lamina calli*
  2 or more rows 2 rows*
Basal Gland 2 yellow at  base of the column None
Growth Habit Loose groups* Clumping

 

*Exceptions in all these descriptions

1805 PM Arachnorchis sp Labelled wm

Labelled Features of a Spider Orchid

Reference

Backhouse, G, (2018) Spider Orchids: The Genus Caladenia and Its Relatives in Australia ISBN: 978-0-9946489 Electronic version

Bates, R. J., ed. (2011). South Australian Native Orchids. Electronic version, 2011. NOSSA

Jones, D. L., A Complete Guide to Native Orchids of Australia Including the Island Territories. Reed New Holland

Jones, D. L.; Hopely, T; Duffy, S. M.; Richards, K. J.; Clements, M. A and Zhang X, Australian Orchid Genera an information and identification system. Electronic version, 2006, CSIRO