There were many more entries than usual this month but the winner was a photograph by David Mangelsdorf.
Looking back over the last three winners, a royal theme emerges. In April it was the elegant Queen Orchid, in May the flamboyant Queen of Sheba and this month it is the dignified Queen Spider Orchid (a statelier name than the more usual common name of Narrow Lipped Spider Orchid).
The botanical name for this species is Arachnorchis leptochila spp letptochila (syn. Caladenia leptochila). An endemic species of South Australia, it is mainly found in the Mount Lofty Ranges where it favours leached stony soils. Flowering in spring, it is easily recognised by the upswept segments and narrow labellum.
Usually these orchids are characterised by dark clubs which can be seen even in bud, but in this picture they are light coloured. This could be due to variation with the species, as occasionally pale coloured flowers have been found. Interestingly in doing an image search on the web I found none with light coloured clubs.
Taken at the same site as February’s winning photograph – Ramsay Conservation Park on Yorke Peninsula, the winning photograph was of an Arcahnorchis sp. by Pauline Meyers.
A positive identification was not possible due to a number of factors making firm identification difficult. Most likely it is a hybrid of the Green-combed group of spider orchids and though not positively identified there are some things that can be observed. The Green-combed group according to Gary Backhouse consists of three sub-groups, A dilatata (largest sub-group), A concinna and A integra, but David Jones has them as three separate gorups.
Some features of this group are
One of two flowers
Flowers mainly green or greenish and red
Hinged and mobile
Green comb-like teeth on the margins (edges)
Tepals (petals and sepals)
Green to greenish with red stripes
Brown to yellow clubs at the tips
From the photograph it can be seen that all the green-comb features are visible except for the clubs, The dorsal sepal is obviously thickened but it is not as clear for the other two sepals. This could be due to the angle of the photograph.
Another observation to note is that it is a freshly opened flower as suggested by the elongated appearance of the labellum. As the flower ages the labellum curls further under itself. It is important to remember that an old flower and a young flower of the same species could be mistaken as two different species.
In South Australia, species belonging to the green-comb groups are
A dilatata sub-group consisting of
A aurulenta, A clavula, A dilatata, A interanea, A macroclavia, A necrophylla, A parva,
A phaeoclavia, A septuosa, A stricta, A tensa, A tentaculata, A verrucosa, A villosissima
A concinna sub-group consisting of
A toxochila, A conferta
A integra sub-group consisting of none in South Australia
To iterate from last month – Orchids are an interesting group concerning identification. Some are extremely easy to identify but others not so.
Backhouse, G. (2011). Spider-orchids – the Genus Caladenia and its Relatives in Australia on CD Rom.
Jones, D. L. (2006). A Complete Guide to Native Orchids of Australia including the Island Territories, (2nd ed.). Frenchs Forest, N.S.W., Reed New Holland.
R.J.Bates. (2011). South Australia’s Native Orchids (DVD) [Electronic Version]
Thank you to Thelma Bridle for reviewing the article.
This month’s winner photographed by Pauline Meyers was a spider hybrid identified by Bob Bates as Arachnorchis brumalis x A conferta.
Orchids are an interesting group concerning identification. Some are extremely easy to identify but others specifically the sun orchids, but also the spider orchids, can be difficult to identify partly due to the ease with which they are able to hybridise.
A frequent hybrid occurrence across Australia (see map for Arachnorchis distribution) is the pairing of the green comb spider orchids of the A dilatata complex with the white spider orchid of the A patersonii complex as seen in this picture. A brumalis belongs to the A patersonii complex and A conferta to the green comb orchid.
Hybrids will be variable but obviously they will have characteristics of both parents. By looking at the two parents it can be seen that this picture of Pauline’s contains features of both. From the A conferta parent, the inherited features are the wide labellum of the green comb, thickened calli and the red on the segments whilst the long thin segments, glandular tips (osmophores) long and thin, not clubbed are from the A conferta.
I would like to thank Bob Bates for his helpful comments with writing this article and also Colin for his helpful website www.RetiredAussie.com with its many images of both A conferta and A brumalis which enabled me to view both species at the same time making it much easier to see the characteristics of both parents within the hybrid
Reference for the map.
Australian Orchid Genera: an information and identification system Electronic series: ABRS Identification Series Publishers: Australian Biological Resources Study/CSIRO Publishing Year: 2006 Authors: D.L.Jones, T.Hopley, S.M.Duffy, K.J.Richards, M.A.Clements, X.Zhang ISBN-10: 0 643 09336 2 ISBN-13: 978 0 643 09336 2
Although originally from the disk quoted above, the map was accessed from this site https://www.anbg.gov.au/cpbr/cd-keys/orchidkey/html/genera/ARACHNORCHIS_map.htm