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.
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.
Of 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.