NOSSA: The Doco

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

It’s Arrived, the Wild Orchid Watch App …

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.

Glossodia major

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.

Diplodium sp Adelaide Hills

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.

Orthoceras stricta

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.

Terrestrial Culture – December & January

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.

Caged For A Reason

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

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

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”.

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.

Terrestrial Culture – October

Les Nesbitt’s Culture Notes from the October 2019 Journal

The days get gradually longer, hotter and drier this month. In a dry year there may be no useful rain in October. Keep up the watering while leaves remain green. Aphids can infest flower spikes so be on guard. Break off the tops of old flower spikes to discourage these pests. Microtis species flower this month.

Complete tuber removal by the middle of the month. These pots will have to be kept watered as long as the leaves stay green, hopefully well into November, to give time for additional tubers to form. Group these pots together to make watering easier. Diuris punctata plants may not die down until December.

Some seed pods will be ready to harvest usually on a warm day. Pick them as the ribs start to change colour from green to biscuit and before they split open and release the seed. Place the pods in paper envelopes & store inside in a dry place until sowing time next autumn. The cauline autumn flowering greenhoods will go dormant so once the leaves go yellow let these pots gradually dry out completely.

Sort out which pots to repot in summer. Stand small pots in a larger pot to denote those to make a show pot for next year. This applies to colony forming species which are expected to multiply.

September Terrestrial Orchid Culture Notes

Continuing Les Nesbitt’s notes from the NOSSA Journal, this month he reminds us that not only is it a busy month but it is the month of the NOSSA Spring Show.

September is the busiest month of the year in the terrestrial house. apart from orchid shows every weekend there are numerous tasks to perform. The days are getting longer at a rapid rate. Day length increases by 2 hours in the 6 weeks from the 1st Deptember. Equinox is about the 21st September.

Early Spring weather is changeable from cold, windy & wet to warm & sunny. Give plants as much sun as possible as new tubers are developing rapidly. Hand watering may be necessary if there is no rain so get the hose out of winter storage. Do not let the post dry out this month. There are lots of flowers everywehere. Take photos as some flowers are fleeting and may only last one day. Different pollinators are about for the more colourful terrestrials that start flowering in spring.

Prepare your flowering plants for the NOSSA Spring Show. It is fun to put in a display even if you only have one or two plants. You learn a lot from other growers. We certainly need new exhibitors each year. Seek new species to add to your collection at the NOSSA Spring Show. Be there at 10am Saturday morning for the hard to get species which are always in short supply.

Spring is an ideal deflasking period but get it done in the first 2 weeks to give sufficient growing time to harden the plants and for tiny seedling tubers to form before the summer dormancy.

Notes on Tuber Removal

Start tuber removal after the middle of the month. In a wet year you may have to move pots under cover a week earlier to dry out a bit before knocking them out. working with mud is a real pain and not recommended. Use this method to propagate the slow multiplying terrestrials that are amenable. those recommended for slow multiplying are Diuris (punctata & behrii), and rufa group Pterostylis (cycnocephala & biseta).

Knock out the pot and carefully remove most of the soil from the plant. Find the new tuber which is usually whiter smoother than the old tuber. Hold the junction of the old tuber and plant stem firmly with one hand and grasp the new tuber with thumb & finger of the other hand. Twist & pull the new tuber which will separate from the plant. If the old tuber and leaves break apart you have stuffed up. Repot the plant & old tuber and water the pot. The new tuber can be buried in the same pot or potted up separately in another pot. Keep the plant watered for at least six weeks or as long as the leaves stay green. The plant may form one or two small new tubers before going dormant. In January you can repot and see how well the method worked.

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,

Monthly Terrestrial Orchid Culture – August

With Spring on the way, things are starting to change in the Orchid House. Here are Les Nesbitt’ notes from the August Journal 2019 Vol 43 No 7

Terrestrial Culture – August

The days are getting longer now, noticeably so after the middle of the month. When the clouds clear, the sun is stronger & higher in the sky. Temperatures increase and growth speeds up. Lots of buds are developing so there is plenty to see in the orchid house. The greenhoods are a feature with Pterostylis curta, nutans, pedunculata and their hybrids are all flowering.

Pests become more active. Look out for aphids on flower stems. Depending on the season deflasking can start after the middle of the month if a sunny and dry Spring is forecast, otherwise wait until September.

The NOSSA Spring show is only a month away. Start preparing your specimen pots for the display. Any spare pots can be sold on the trading table. There are never enough terrestrials on the trading table at the show to meet the demand.

Photograph your orchids when the flowers are at peak condition. Then hand pollinate a flower or two to get seed for the NOSSA Propagation Workshop or for sowing around mother plants next autumn. Prepare two pots of each species, one for showing and one for seed.

 

How to hand pollinate.

Look closely at the flower column to see the positions of the pollen and the stigmatic surface. Flowers can be self-pollinated if there is only one. Fatter pods with more viable seeds result if two plants of the same species are cross pollinated. That is transfer the pollen from one flower to a flower on another plant. Cross pollination mixes the gene pool to prevent inbreeding. Use a toothpick or a she-oak needle to touch the pollen which will stick to the wood. Wipe the pollen across the stigmatic surface of the other flower and the job is done.

If pollination is successful, the flower will collapse in a few days and the ovary will start to swell. For greenhoods the stigmatic surface is halfway up the front of the column. Remove the front of the flower and the lip so you can see what you are doing. Greenhoods have yellow pollen. For Diuris and Thelymitra the white pollen is hidden behind the sticky stigma. Caladenia have yellow pollen under flaps at the top of the column. Stroke upwards to open the flaps as would an insect backing out of the flower. The stigma is a hollow sticky depression just below the pollen. You will have to tip the flower right back to see it.