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 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.

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!

South Australia’s Arachnorchis cardiochila

The following article, March Winning Photograph, is from Volume 44 no 4, May 2020 Native Orchid Society of South Australia Journal.

Pauline Myers’ Arachnorchis cardiochila was the winning picture. Synonyms for Arachnorchis cardiochila are Caladenia cardiochila, Phlebochilus cardiochilus and Caladenia tessellata. Common names include Heart Lipped Spider Orchid, Thick Lipped Spider Orchid, Fleshy Lipped Caladenia.

This species was named in 1886 by Professor Tate who presented it at the Royal Society of South australia at the October meeting. He did the original drawing.

The type specimen was collected at Golden Grove on October 2 1886 but it had also been collected much earlier (1865) at Barraba Scrub which is in the region of Mallalla.

Its fate in both these areas has not been good; it is extinct in Golden Grove and critically endangered in the region containing Barabba Scrub. Although, it is considered to be a reasonably common orchid throughout its range in South Australia, Victoria and Southern New South Wales, there are areas of concern as seen the Seedbank of South Australia map below.

It should be noted that though Caladenia tessallata is listed as a synonym that this was used incorrectly, as C. tessallata is a separate but similar species found in the eastern states. Its main difference from C. cardiochila is that the edge of the labellum (lip) is toothed, not smooth as seen in Pauline’s photo.

End with the Pods #1

In 2011, Robert Lawrence wrote a book titled Start with the Leaves, a beginners guide to orchids and lillies of the Adelaide Hills. Bob Bates, editor of South Australia’s Native Orchid 2011, suggested that the next title should be End with the Pods. Well another field guide has not been written but following Bob’s suggestion, it might be interesting to see how far one can go with orchid identification based upon the pods, or finished seed capsules.

As most of the orchids for the Adelaide Hills and Fleurieu Peninsula have finished, it might be worth a look at some capsules found this year and see how far we can go with identification.

Here is the first one:
These pictures were taken on a mobile phone on the 30th November, 2019 on the Fleurieu Peninsula. There were several plants with single pods scattered across the park. The stems were reasonably tall (est 30cm) and surprisingly easy to spot.

The habitat is open forest consisting of Eucalyptus leucoxylon (Blue Gum), E. baxteri (Brown Stringybark) and E. fasciculosa (Pink Gum).

Seed pod
Senensced leaf of the same plant above

Is there enough information to identify this plant to species level?
Comment on what you think it is and why.

2019 SARCOCHILUS OPEN DAY & BBQ

WESTERN ORCHIDS / LABORATORIES

333 Ackland Hill Rd, Coromandel East, 5157

OPEN DAY & BBQ Saturday 23 November 2019 between 10:30 and 3:30

TEA & COFFEE ON SITE – BRING YOUR OWN DRINKS & CHAIRS

Members of all orchid clubs welcome

Western Orchids / Laboratories is run by Kevin Western and the main business is to produce a wide range of flasks containing quality plants with decent root and top growth such that they have the maximum probably chance to thrive after deflask for our customers.

Come and see whit is probably the largest collection of Sarchochilus orchids in South Australia with a significant proportion of them in flower at the moment.

The property features a Tissue Culture laboratory where the seeds are sown, where the clones are generated and where the final replate flasks are housed until ready for sale.

Western Orchids / Laboratories was started back in 1995 when we were at at Coromandel Valley. the current property was purchased in late 1995 and the laboratory, glass house and first shade house built and commissioned in October of 1996.

Visitors will be able to see the laboratory as well as the glass house and shade houses.

Sarcochilus falcatus

I (Kevin Western) am a plant breeder and constantly seek to buy and to breed better orchids for the orchid public of Australia.

I attend several interstate orchid fairs each year where a significant proportion of my sales occur. I also have a website (https://westernorchids.com.au/ ) and a string of regular customers who regularly purchase flasks and / or tissue culture medium from me. Many of my flasks are sold to other orchid nurseries who raise them in pot or on mount and then on-sell to the orchid public.

There will be Sarchochilus seedlings and plants available for sale AND I would like to sell as many of them as possible to make room for the next lot of deflasked seedlings to be reaised in their place and grown to flowering size when I will again choose my breeding stock from them.

Because I neet the room to grow them up I only want to keep the current breeders and unflowered seedlings.

THE REST WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR SALE.

Many plants at ridiculous prices – $5; $10; $15 & $20 with a few that just didn’t qualify as breeders individually priced to match their quality.

Selecting Photographs for 2020 NOSSA Calendar

It’s time to vote again!

Following the success of 2019 NOSSA calendar, we are continuing with the same format of inviting people to vote for the twelve orchids that they would like to see in the 2020 calendar.

All the entries are South Australian orchids that were from the NOSSA monthly photograph competition.

To enter:

  •  Select the numbers corresponding to the twelve images that you would most like to see in your calendar
  • Email your twleve votes – nossa.enquiries@gmail.com (Subject Heading – Calendar)
  • Voting closes on Friday 9 August 2019

The results will be collated to determine the twelve most popular images that will go into the calendar. We plan to have the calendars available for purchase at the NOSSA Spring Show, September.

If you would like more details or see the images in a higher resolution, use the above email address to contact NOSSA.

These calendars make great gifts to those who love flowers and are greatly appreciated by orchid enthusiasts not connected to a club.

Caladenia plicata – April Winning Photograph

Shane Grave’s winning photograph for April was the spring flowering Caladenia plicata which is endemic to the South West of Western Australia.

Caladenia is a very large genus with over 330 species, 39 of these currently unnamed. In addition, there are 58 named subspecies and varieties. Caladenia plicata would belong under the subgenus Calonema or the segregate genus Arachnorchis which, although not generally recognised by State herbaria is commonly accepted by many amateur enthusiasts. Yet even this subdivision is still large with 192 species. As a result, some authors have created further groups/complexes, for example C. dilatata complex, C. longicauda complex, etc. However, according to Andrew Brown, C. plicata doesn’t seem to fit neatly into any of these categories, although David Jones does include it within the clubbed spider orchids.

Various authors consistently refer to the labellum as being unusual. In Fitzgerald’s formal description (1882) he states that the labellum tip is “recurved so as to become plicate and touch the under surface of the disc”. Plicate means to fold. The labellum tip of many other Arachnorchis species are known to curl under but none fold under in the way that this species does. The sharp fold with the spreading horizontal fringed margins (edges) combined with a central band of tall dense calli (wart-like structures) gives a distinctive shape reminiscence of a crab, hence the common name Crab Lipped Spider Orchid. The effect of this is best seen from a front, rather than a side, view.

The very mobile labellum is sufficient to identify this species, but it is also possible to identify when in bud “due to the prominent short osmophores (clubs) on the sepals”. The sepals narrow halfway along to form thick brown clubs and when the flower is open both the lateral sepals and petals are downswept. This is clearly seen in Shane’s photograph.

Finally, for those interested in pollination, it is pollinated by an undescribed male thynnine wasp of the genus Zeleboria. This has been captured on video https://ars.els-cdn.com/content/image/1-s2.0-S0960982217306310-mmc6.mp4

 

Thank you to Andrew Brown for assisting me with this article.

References:

Brown A, et al, Field Guide to the Orchids of Western Australia 2013

Brown A, personal communication

Caladenia accessed 24 May 2019

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caladenia

Caladenia plicata Wikipedia accessed 24 May 2019

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caladenia_plicata

Haiyang Xu et al Complex Sexual Deception in an Orchid Is Achieved by Co-opting Two Independent Biosynthetic Pathways for Pollinator Attraction 2017

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982217306310

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

Jones DL, et al, Australian Orchid Genera CD-ROM 2008 CSIRO accessed 24 May 2019

https://www.anbg.gov.au/cpbr/cd-keys/orchidkey/html/genera/Arachnorchis.htm

Pelloe, EH, West Australian Orchids 1930

http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks04/0400681h.html#page50

Orchids of South-West Australia website

http://chookman.id.au/wp_orchids/?page_id=2424

 

 

Australian Orchids: The How, Where, When & Why

It’s been a little while in coming, but here is the second of a three part educational video about Australian Orchids.

Orchids are special.

They are unique but even more they are important. Orchids are the barometer to the health of the ecosystem.

So, watch and enjoy the video …

To watch the first video click here.

Waiting for the rain …

Last year we waited for the rain. The rain heralds the start of the orchid season. Last year the season was dry, very dry. It was below average and it was hot.

So how did the orchids fare in the Adelaide Hills? The start of the season was slow with our first field trip not being until May 26 because of the lack of rain.

At the time, the smallness of the plants was noticeable with one specimen of flowering Leporella fimbriata standing no more than 2 cms. Normally  the flower stem can be up to 25 cms tall. This trend of smaller plants continued throughout the year.

The following two photographs show the difference in size.

Small Leporella fimbriata
A miniscule Leporella fimbriata near an ant nest

Leporella fimbriata sm

And on January 28, we came across the smallest flowering Dipodium pardalinum that we’d ever seen. Normally, this genus can grow up to about 100 cms in height but this one barely reached above the height of Robert’s shoe, ie, about 10 cms. True this was an exception but overall there not many plants, and even they were spindly and small in comparisons with previous years.

Below are two photographs illustrating the size difference

Small Dipodium pardalinum
A very tiny Dipodium pardalinum

Dipodium roseum
An average sized Dipodium

So what is the outlook for orchids for 2019? That will depend upon the rains.

When does the orchid season get going? Again that depends upon the rain but expect to see the autumn orchids about six to eight weeks after a good rain episode.

So we wait for the rains ….