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:
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.
Anyone wanting to join our General Meeting, please contact the treasurer via email – firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
*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.
Last year, UniSA second year media students were required to produce a short documentary about a local organised. Three of their students, Vanessa Rossi, Tayla Elliot and Emma Sullivan, chose to produce a video about the work of the Native Orchid Society of South Australia. And for this we thank them. It was interesting working with them and they learnt a few things about our bush gems – namely that they are not big and showy!
Some adjustment needed to be made to the original video, but it is now available for viewing
The process may have taken awhile, (for some longer than than the two years collaboration with the University of Adelaide,) but finally the Wild Orchid Watch app is now available for all Australians to use.
So why orchids…
Orchids are iconic and somewhat mysterious plants that are highly valued by sections of our society.
They are sensitive to environmental change most of which puts the survival of populations at risk of being lost permanently.
Orchids tend to be indicators of ecosystem health.
They are dependent on other parts of the ecosystem such as fungi within the soil and particular insect pollinators .
These insects are also dependent on a functioning ecosystem for their survival.
Thus, when orchids are conserved other parts of the ecosystem are also conserved resulting in broader benefits to the ecosystem as a whole.
So, why an app …
traditional methods of data collection for orchids are inadequate because of their
differences in emergence with seasons
short flowering, sometimes non-flowering, seasons
allows the collection of a wealth of knowledge known to orchid enthusiasts
this method of collecting data enables researchers to gain a better understanding of
the conservation status and trend of orchids
the value of orchids as indicators of environmental change
the phenology (life cycle), distribution and abundance of orchids
The WOW app allows citizens scientists to provide important data for researchers.
Bonus Benefit of the App – Identification
Probably one of the most frustrating things for the novice is not knowing what is the species of orchid that they have found. With this app it is not necessary to be familiar with all the orchid species.
The WOW app uses the iNaturalist platform where there is a whole community ready to assist with identification.
One can be an orchid citizen scientist without a detailed knowledge of orchids.
So, hop over to the WOW website to find more information, instructions and download the app.
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.
The following two articles are from the December 2019 NOSSA Journal. Written by Les Nesbitt, they cover the months of December and January.
Terrestrial Culture – December
A few late orchids such as Diuris drummondii may still have green leaves and flowers so will need watering every couple of days. Most terrestrials will have died down by now on the Adelaide Plain. Watering consists of a quick squirt with the hose once a week to moisten the top 1 cm to prevent tubers shrivelling. A small terrestrial collection of pots can be moved to a cooler place out of direct sun under a bench or to the south side of the house. A large collection must stay on the benches so extra shadecloth is added for the summer.
Repotting is in full swing now. Keep a stock of the required materials on hand including sand, soil, native potting mix, clay, blood & bone, chopped sheoak needles, smashed and sieved gum leaves pots labels, shadecloth squares for crocking, pencils to write on plastic, sieve and bowl, watering can & shadehouse benching. A system for washing and sterilizing pots before reuse is essential to control disease and virus.
Pots dry out quickly in hot windy weather. Water a day or two before repotting so that the potting mix is just moist. If too dry dust will be a problem and tubers can be damaged by hard lumps of mix. Too wet and the mix sticks to the tubers and clogs the sieve. The ideal is a mix that is easy to work when separating wet pots take tubers from mix. It helps to move some pots under cover in case of rain. Wet pots take several days to dry out which can hold up repotting. Alternatively, a sheet of plastic over the pots when rain is forecast will shed the water but remember to weigh it down with bricks or it will blow away.
Pick out the tubers and put them in a kitchen sieve sitting in a container of water. Use a jet of water to wash the tubers clean and spread them on a towel to dry. Discard any tubers that are soft or have turned black. If the tubers are healthy, firm and a pale colour the mix can be reused. Colony type tubers should have at least doubled in number since last year. Add half fresh mix to the old mix and add a big pinch of blood & bone fertilizer. Should the old mix be dark in colour, or the tubers not be healthy looking then throw out the old mix and pot up in new mix.
Select the pot size, place a shadecloth square in the pot to retain the mix when it dries out. Fill the pot with mix to about 2cm from the top. Select the largest tubers for a show pot and push them into the mix with the shoot on top. The small tubers can be potted in another pot to grow bigger next year. Cover the tubers with more mix and almost fill the pot. Firm the mix down with your hand or use the bottom of an empty pot. Cover the surface with chopped sheoak needles. Write out a label with the name of the orchid and the provenance, if known. On the back of the label note the number of tubers and the date planted. Water the pot gently so as to not disturb the needles. This helps settle the soil around the tubers and makes subsequent watering easier. Put the finished pots back in the shadehouse to await the next growing season.
Send off your tuber bank order before Christmas or you might miss out on your choices. The tuber bank is a great way to increase your terrestrial collection.*
*Tubers are sold only to financial members
Terrestrial Culture – January
Start watering the blue tag pots in January. Pots of orchids from the East Coast of Australia where it rains in Summer are given a blue tag as the culture is different compared to local terrestrial orchids. This early shooting group includes most cauline greenhoods, Pterostylis baptistii and Corybas hispidus. Local South Australian tubers can be kept completely dry until at least mid-February if pots are shaded.
When your tuber bank order arrives, pot up the tubers straight away. Plant each species in a separate 125mm or 150mm pot. Don’t forget to record the provenance name (if known) on the label and in your recording system. The provenance is the location of the original collection. Provenance is important because in 10 years the orchid will possibly be extinct in that area as suburbia expands or weeds take over the habitat.
Summer watering is important. Too little and tubers may dry up. Too much and they may rot or come up early before the heat of summer is over when they will be attacked by thrip and aphids. A light sprinkle on top of the pots once a week works OK.
Try to finish repotting this month. If left until February there is more chance of breaking off the new shoots which can be well developed by late February.
Sadly many of our orchids are under threat of extinction.
Fortunately, conservationists and researchers are putting in a lot of effort in an attempt to save them. Part of this work consists of caging and tagging individual plants.
Most people do the right thing and do not disturb the cages/tags. Unfortunately some, hopefully mainly through lack of knowledge, do move them. Sadly, too many of them are being moved. Sometimes they are re-positioned but not always.
There are a good reasons for the individual plants to be tagged/caged. And there are good reasons for not moving either the tags or the cages.
Tags are usually numbered. These numbered tags are reference locations from which the distance and bearing of plants are measured. If the pin is moved the record for that individual plant is invalidated. Position of pins are used to determine if plants reappear in succeeding years.
Replacing the pins can also result in inadvertently spearing, and thus destroying, the tubers.
Cages are used to protect individual plants from grazing. Moving cages, even if returned, can result in damage to the plant, as well as damage to any emerging juvenile plants.
NOSSA & Conservation
One of the main activities of NOSSA is conservation. Many of our members assist in the work of monitoring, caging and tagging of plants. They know of the time and effort required for this work. They know why it is important not to move tags or cages, not even for taking photographs.
But we are aware that there are those who do not know and so would ask that others pass this message onto friends who may be unaware of the significance of cages/tags.
So simply put, “Cages & tags are not to be moved under any circumstances”.