Do Any Orchids Grow Near The Sea?

Orchids are found in a wide range of habitats.  One such habitat is the littoral zone or more simply the seaside.  The following information is taken from the NOSSA’s CD/DVD South Australia’s Native Orchids 2011.

The Littoral Zone

Many orchid species have a linear distribution following the coastline. Here on the leeward side of sandhills the air is usually moist and mild, few frosts occur so close to the sea and sea-fogs in winter will cause water to drip into the sand which easily soaks up both the moisture and the extra nutrients provided by sea-spray. Some of the best known coastal orchids include the gnats Cyrtostylis robusta, pink fairies Caladenia latifolia, coast onion-orchids, Microtis arenaria and coastal helmet orchids Corysanthes expansa as well as C. despectans. All of these are colony forming species, mostly because the windblown sand would soon cover ‘single plant’ species which start to appear after the second line of dunes.

Coastal species can be a few kilometres from the sea but there are several that grow either at the high tide mark, within sight or sound of the sea or in coastal dunes. Apart from the ones already mentioned above, the following are some others that can potentially be found within sight and sound of the sea.

  • Acianthus pusillus (Mosquito Orchid)
  • Arachnorchis cardiochila (Thick Lipped Spider Orchid)
  • Arachnorchis fragrantissima (Scented Spider Orchid)
  • Arachnorchis fuliginosa (Coastal Spider Orchid)
  • Arachnorchis sp Brown Bayonets (Port Lincoln Spider Orchid)
  • Bunochilus flavovirens (Coastal Banded Greenhood)
  • Bunochilus littoralis (Lake Saint Clair Banded Greenhood)
  • Caladenia sp Selfing Coastal Dunes (Little Dune Fingers)
  • Corunastylis nigricans (Port Lincoln Midge Orchid)
  • Diuris orientis (Wallflower Orchid or Bulldogs)

    Diuris orientis

    Diuris orientis (Wallflower Orchid)

  • Diplodium erythroconchum (Red shell Orchid)
  • Glossodia major (Waxlip or Purple Cockatoo Orchid)
  • Leptoceras menziesii (Hare Orchid, Rabbit Ears)

    Leptoceras menziesii (Rabbit Ears Orchid)

    Leptoceras menziesii (Rabbit Ears Orchid) after a fire

  • Prasophyllum elatum (Tall Leek Orchid)
  • Prasophyllum litorale (Vivid Leek Orchid)
  • Prasophyllum sp Late Coastal Dunes
  • Pterostylis cucullata (Leafy Greenhood)
  • Pterostylis curta (Blunt Greenhood)Pterostylis curta Labellum and column 92RL
  • Thelymitra antennifera (Rabbit Ears; Lemon Sun Orchid)07 JB T antennifera sm

Unfortunately, where there has been settlement, it is now unusual to find these species so close to the sea.

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2015 August Winning Photograph

08 RP Arachnorchis cardiochila smOf the five entries this month, three were spider orchids and the winner was from this group. It was Rob Pauley’s Arachnorchis cardiochila (syn Caladenia cardiochila), Heart Lip Spider Orchid which can be found across South Australia and into western Victoria. At one time a specimen was found on Flinders Island, Tasmania but as it was collected in 1947 it is considered extinct in that region.

This lovely flower is quite variable in colour and form.

The heart shape labellum is a distinctive feature of this spider orchid, so it is not surprising that this is reflected in the name. Cardio means heart and chila lip.

What probably is surprising is that the traditional heart shape symbol has come full circle. It had a botanical origin. According to cardiologist Professor Armin Dietz the symbol was originally a stylized vine/ivy leaf as evidenced from paintings on goblets from the 3rd millennium. In the Middle Ages, doctors and anatomists used the shape to represent the heart. As at that time Latin and Greek were both the international languages of scholars, including doctors, the word associated with the symbol was the Greek word kardia (ie cardio) meaning heart. Consequently, by the time Ralph Tate names this species in 1887, the shape has become intrinsically linked with the heart and so it must have appeared to him as an obvious descriptive name.

There are several field guides which give a detailed description of the species including South Australia’s Native Orchids DVD-ROM which is available for sale from NOSSA.

 

References:

http://www.heartsymbol.com/english/index.html accessed 28th August 2015

The texts published on this website are taken from his book “Ewige Herzen – Kleine Kulturgeschichte der Herzbestattungen” (“Eternal Hearts – a short cultural history of heart burials”), published 1998 in MMV Medien und Medizin Verlag, Munich. (English translation by Pauline Liesenfeld.)

http://data.rbg.vic.gov.au/vicflora/flora/taxon/bca2495d-3325-4c1b-b2c3-782566fb6bce accessed 28th August 2015

http://dpipwe.tas.gov.au/Documents/Caladenia-cardiochila-listing-statement.pdf acessed 28th August 2015