[Primary source material is the NOSSA Journals. Direct quotes from the Journal in blue and additional information in black.]
Sometimes gleanings take much time and effort to locate but other times there is an abundance of information just waiting to be picked up. This was the case when searching the Journal for information on Harold Goldsack.
Upon the death of Dr R S Rogers, Harold Goldsack became the leading authority of South Australian orchids. To quote Peter Hornsby (1977), NOSSA’s first editor, “Harold is undoubtedly the most experienced of our native orchid botanists and knows more of the history of our orchids than anyone alive.”
Though not a foundational member, Harold was one of NOSSA’s early members, joining at the end of 1977. He was both a grower of epiphytes – winning the Champion epiphyte for 1982 (Dendrobium x gracillimum) and terrestrials – producing the first greenhood hybrid, Pterostylis Cutie (baptistii x cucullata) which was registered on 5th March, 1982. At the meetings he gave talks, plant commentaries and judged the orchids. Outside of the meetings he was active in advancing the cause of Australian orchids. His enthusiasm influenced many people, one person being a young Mark Clements, current Research Scientist, Centre for Australian National Biodiversity Research, CSIRO, Canberra.
It is not surprising than that in 1984 he was made NOSSA’s second life member.
Bob Bates wrote an informative biography in Harold’s obituary.
Journal 1989 Volume 13 No 4 May
Vale Harold Goldsack.
It is with sadness that we announce the passing of life member Harold Goldsack on April 25th. Our sympathies to his family.
Harold was born in East Bengal, India on 27th June 1908. He once told how he could remember epiphytic orchids blooming outside the bedroom window of his childhood home.
His family moved to Adelaide in 1916 and he attended Princes College as a boarding student.
He was introduced to South Australian orchids in bushland adjacent his family’s orchard at Coromandel Valley using Rogers “Introduction to the Study of South Australian Orchids” to identify these. Harold in 1924 introduced himself to Dr Rogers and they became good friends. Harold soon began to find orchids that were new to Dr Rogers and this fired his enthusiasm so that he began a serious study of our orchid flora.
One day in 1928 on a visit to Dr Rogers, Harold was shown the very first collection of the underground orchid Rhizanthella gardeneri. This was to be the subject of the last article Harold wrote over 50 years later.
With the passing of Dr Rogers in 1942 Harold became the foremost authority on South Australian orchids corresponding regularly with H M R Rupp, W H Nicholls and A W Dockrill. His extensive collection of pressed orchids was donated to the State Herbarium in 1978.
Harold wrote many articles on orchids his best known being “Common Orchids of South Australia” which appeared in the S Aust Naturalist in June 1944 and was used in “National Parks and Wild Life Reserves” book from 1965-1970. Harold also revised the orchid section of Black’s “Flora S Australia” in 1943.
Besides drawing and photographing the S Aust orchids Harold developed a large personal Orchid Library and cultivated many Australian orchids which he displayed at shows including our NOSSA shows. The first registered Pterostylis hybrid Ptst. Cutie was made by Harold and the name given to the original clone now grown by hundreds of orchid lovers is “Harolds Pride!”
His main interest was to enthuse others to see the beauty and value of our native orchids through his articles and the many illustrated talks he gave to natural history groups.
Harold was a member of the Royal Society of S Australia.
He was a Foundation Member of the Australian Native Orchid Society. (ANOS)
Ever ready for a challenge Harold at age 64 began studying for his Engineering and Surveying Certificate gaining distinctions in Maths, then working on the surveying of the S E Freeway.
Harold Goldsack’s name is commemorated in the South Australian endemic orchid Prasophyllum goldsackii, a fitting tribute to a true orchid lover.
Bibliography of Papers by Harold Goldsack
Orchids of Coromandel Valley – SA Naturalist XIV, Nov 1932 PP 12 – 15
Notes on Caladenia Catifolia – R Br SA Naturalist XV, March 1934, pp 59 – 63
National Park of South Australia – Field Naturalists Sect. of Royal Soc of SA 1936, Being Vol XVII, Nos 1 to 4 of SA Naturalist pp 52 – 54 Orchids
Common Orchids of South Australia – SA Naturalist XXII June 1944 PP 1 – 12 with line drawings of 52 species
New Orchid Records for South Australia – SA Naturalist XXII June 1944, p 13
National Park and Reserves – Commissioners of the National Park, Sept 1956 pp 59 – 79 with line drawings of 52 species of Orchids, p 195 Distribution and flowering times of orchids in the National Park and Reserves
SA National Parks and Wild Life Reserves – Commissioners of the National Park and Wild Life Reserves, March 1964, pp 46 – 64 Orchids with line drawings of 52 species, pp 189 – 199. Distribution and Flowering times of Orchids in the National Park and Reserves
Orchids of the National Park and Wild Life Reserves – Reprinted 1965 by Field Naturalists Society, if (sic) SA from “SA National Parks and Wild Life Reserves” with permission of the Commissioners of the National Park and Wild Life Reserves
Blacks’ Flora of South Australia – Revised edition of p1, 1946 Assisted Rev H M R Rupp and W H Nicholls with the revision of the Orchidacea
Pollination of Caladenia deformis R Br – R S Rogers transactions of Royal Society of SA Volume LV Oct 1931 The pollination of Caladenia deformis as observed by H G was written up by Dr R S Rogers in an article for the Royal Society of SA
Rhizanthella gardnerii R S Rogers – The Orchadian p 113 Sept 1979 A note about the discovery of this orchid
Following is the article by Harold Goldsack referred to by Bob Bates in Harold’s obituary. Though he wrote for other publications, this was appears to be the only one in the NOSSA Journals.
Journal 1979 Volume 3 No 8 August
RHIZANTHELLA GARDNERI Rogers Harold Goldsack
Corrigin, Shackleton, Goomalling, Munglingup. Western Australia.
A new locality where the subterranean orchid Rhizanthelle gardneri Rogers has been found, as noted by Don Voigt in his letter to Roy Hargreaves to brings with it hope that after 50 years the secret life of the remarkable orchid may be unveiled. It also brings back memories of my first encounter with this plant.
As a young orchid enthusiast I had been collecting for, and writing to, Dr R.S. Rogers of Adelaide, who, at that time, was an extremely busy public personality. To my surprise, one day in 1928 I received a note from Dr Rogers inviting me to call at his house in Hutt Street after surgery hours as he had something to show me which he was sure would be of interest.
Naturally, I took the first opportunity to visit the Doctor, whereon he brought into the room a large jar with some white vegetable pickled in it. With a smile he said “Have you ever seen anything like this before?”
Well, there it was – this unique subterranean orchid from Corrigin, Western Australia, sent over by Mr C A Gardiner, the Government Botanist of Perth, who had realised the importance of this discovery.
The first plants were found in an area of virgin lane that had been rolled, burnt and then ploughed, which operation uncovered the white underground rhizomes. Mr John Trott, the discoverer, was puzzled by this strange plant growing around the stumps of Melaleuca uncinata R Br, common in the area, and sent it to Mr C A Gardiner. He, realizing the orchidaceous nature of the plant, visited the area, made personal observations and then sent a specimen to Dr Rogers for study, which led to the description of a now sub-tribe, genus and species of orchid – Rhizanthella gardneri Rogers.
Soon after this the Field Naturalists Society were to hold their Wild Flower Show in the Adelaide Town hall and attempted to have this unique specimen displayed there. However, the plant was too valuable to risk and an artist – Mr Lyall Lush – made a black and white drawings which was exhibited instead.
Within three years, on the east coast of Australia at Bulahdelah, another subterranean orchid Cryptanthemis slateri Rupp was unearthed. Unearthed is the word, for this one was unearthed by Mr Slater who was digging up rhizomes of Dipodium punctatum, the “Wild Hyacinth”, to attempt to grow them. All plants of the new orchid were found growing in association Dipodium. The importance of this find was such that Rev H I R Rupp was given a grant to travel to Bulahdelah to make further studies. This second find aroused worldwide interest and a German botanist suggested that the flowers of Cryptanthemis slateri were underground spikes of Dipodium. The morphology of the flowers soon disproved that theory.
Regarding this orchid, which Rupp named in 1932, Dr Rogers commented to me that he was sure that Rev Rupp’s parishioners must have had a very brief sermon the week Rupp received the first specimen of Cryptanthemis!
Dr Rogers then lamented that the orchid hunter has to add a plough and a pick to his orchid collecting equipment!!