2016 Orchid Picture of the Year

For the final meeting of the year we chose the best of the 2016 monthly winners of the picture competition.

Here in Australia we are fortunate to have such a variety of orchids. They may not be as big and showy as some of the overseas orchids but the diversity of shapes fires the imagination as reflected in this year’s monthly winners, when put together. The common names of the winners – spider, leopard, flying duck, cowslip, zebra, helmet, bluebeard and greenhood – reinforce this theme of diversity.

Patterns and colours contribute to the variety of our orchids. Australian orchid colours run the gamut of the rainbow and more, with Australia being home to most of the naturally occurring blue orchids in the world. This colour fascinates and allures people around the world so much so that nurseries will dye a white orchid blue because it will sell. There is even a website devoted to the colour called, not surprisingly, Blue Orchid  and the popular band master Glenn Miller wrote a song titled Blue Orchids (1944).

Could this be why the very clear winner for the year was Claire Chesson’s Pheladenia deformis common name Bluebeard or Blue Fairy?

  congratulations-clipart-k15686507

  Claire Chesson on your most beautiful picture.

1608-sm-cc-pheladenia-deformis
Pheladenia deformis

Claire won the August competition.

As a reminder, below are the other winners for the year.  Click on the image to see the related articles.

February 2016 Photographer: Pauline Meyers

1602 sm PM Caleana major
Caleana major

March 2016 Photographer: Judy Sara

1603 sm JS Arachnorchis sp
Arachnorchis sp. (Green Combed Spider Orchid

April 2016 Photographer: Claire Chesson

1604 sm CC T benthamaniana
Thelymitra benthamiana

May 2016 Photographer: Pauline Meyers

1605 sm PM Caladenia flava
Caladenia flava

2016 June Photographer: Ros Miller

1606 sm RM Caladenia cairnsiana
Caladenia cairnsiana

2016 July Photographer: Robert Lawrence

1607 sm RWL Corysanthes diemenicus
Corysanthes diemenica (mutation)

2016 September Photographer: Bevin Scholz

1609-sm-bs-pterostylis-cucullata
Pterostylis cucullata

2016 October Photographer: Helen Lawrence

1610-hl-sm-arachnorchis-argocalla

 

July 2016 Winning Picture

1607 sm RWL Corysanthes diemenicus.jpg

This month there were four very different species.  Two were from Western Australia, Pauline Meyers’ Caladenia longicauda and Lorraine Badger’s Thelymitra pulcherrima, and the other two from South Australia, Rob Soergel’s Bunochilus viriosa and Robert Lawrence’s Corysanthes diemenicus which was the winning picture.

Corysanthes diemenicus is a very common winter orchid but this one is unique as instead of one flower as is normal there are two!  So is it a new species? No, it is a freak; the technical terminology is teratologic.

Of the various plant families, the mint and orchid families (Theissen 2006) are well known for producing teratological plants, that is, plants that are grossly abnormal or deformed.  Bates (2011) divides such abnormalities into five categories – peloric, teratological freaks, monstrosities, colour variants and throwbacks.  All of them are congenital abnormalities which may be a result of unknown genetic malfunction or viral infection in the early developmental stages of the plant.  Based upon this division, Robert’s picture is a monstrosity.  This type of double flower is more likely to be found in self-pollinated plants for example Pterostylis foliata often produces more than one flower.

Most freaks are random, they come and go but peloric freaks are interesting.  An early meaning of peloria was an irregular feature that becomes regular (Walker 1879) but in the orchids the meaning has been narrowed to refer to an “abnormality of the labellum that is of a similar shape and colour of the petals” (Australian Orchid Genera 2006) or more precisely an abnormality of the inner tepal whorl (the petals) wherein the petals can take on the appearance (in part or full) of the labellum, or the labellum takes on the appearance of the petals.  One naturally occurring semi-peloric species is Calochilus imberbis. In recent years, orchid growers have cloned peloric freaks using a technique called mericlone to produce new cultivars eg Rhyncolaelia digbyana var. fimbripetala.

Freaks may be interesting but they are temporary so if you spot something unusual in the field look around at the surrounding orchids.  If there is only the one or two individual or one colony, then it’s likely to be an abnormality rather than a new species.

Thank you to Greg Steenbeeke for checking this article.

Reference:

Bates, R. J., ed. (2011). South Australian Native Orchids. Electronic version, 2011. NOSSA

Jones, D L et al, (2006) Australian Orchid Genera, an information and orchid identification system, interactive CD-ROM

Masters, M T (1879) Vegetable Teratology http://www.gutenberg.org/files/23354/23354-h/23354-h.htm accessed 3rd August 2016

St George, I (2007) Monsters, Freaks, Retrogrades and Primitives http://www.nativeorchids.co.nz/Journals/103/page5.htm accessed 3rd August 2016

Steenbeeke, G, personal communications

Theissen, G (2005) The proper place of hopeful monsters in evolution biology http://carah.sweb.cz/xx12295.pdf accessed 3rd August 2016

WHAT ORCHID IS THIS? HOW PHOTOS CAN HELP! – Part One of Two Parts

The following article is from the April 2016 Journal of the Native Orchid Society of South Australia.  The article is complete in itself but Part Two of this post will illustrate how images can help with images of Crytostylis robusta and C. reniformis.

Orchids are beautiful plants and many of us like to capture that beauty on photographs. And there are many beautiful pictures around.

Many times NOSSA, the Herbarium and other specialist groups receive images requesting identification but the vital information is missing.

When photographing for identification, it is necessary to take more than one image, particularly if you are unable to easily return to the site for more images. When in doubt, take several shots from many different angles highlighting different features of the plant and its habitat.

Another very important point to remember is, when there are several of the same plant, to photograph the orchid that is most representative of the group, not the atypical or unusual plant.

General Guide

As a general guide, it is helpful to take a picture of each of the following

  • whole plant
  • individual flower – both from the front and the side, occasionally the back.
  • flower head
  • leaf or leaves
  • habitat

Other helpful things to consider photographing are:

  • capsules of the finished flower – sometimes it can yield useful information.
  • for some genera, the stem can also be a helpful feature as between some species there can be a difference in the hairiness of the stem.
  • It is also worth including in a photograph an indication of whether the plants are growing in colonies with others or as scattered individual plants.

Importance of Size

It is also good to give an idea of size, this can be as simple as using a thumb or hand, a coin (show the reverse not the head) or any item that had an easily recognized size. It is important to have the object next to the feature being photographed. For example, a coin on the ground next to a leaf or a hand immediately behind the flower gives a clear indication of size. Remember to take another photo without the hand or coin.

Some Specific Identifying Features

Some species are distinctive and easily recognised, eg the Flying Duck Orchid, but others are not and it is helpful to know what part of the plant to photograph as different genera will have different identifying features.

  • Spider orchids – the tips of the segments (petals and sepals) and details of the labellum are important
  • Sun orchids – the column in the middle, the ovary at the base of the flower, and the number of bracts (leaf-like growth) on the stems
  • Pink fingers – the length of the leaf in comparison with the length of the flower stalk; also the back of the flower is helpful
  • Gnat orchid – the leaf is the best identifying feature, but also the bud can be helpful
  • Hyacinth orchid (of the Adelaide Hills) – labellum
  • Mosquito, Mayfly and Helmet orchids when not in flower – both sides of the leaf
  • Gastrodia – the flower spike
  • Rufoushoods – side view of the flower and close up of the labellum as the hairs on or surrounding the labellum are important features.
  • Leek Orchids – the labellum is very important, as well as part if not all of the flower spike as the distance between the individual flowers aids identification
  • Greenhoods – if present, the non-flowering rosette of leaves

The Australian Virtual Herbarium has some good tips for photographing flower. Click here to visit the site

 

Spider Orchid
Spider Orchid Photo: Robert Lawrence

This image lacks the ends of the segments to determine the identification.  The presence or absence of  clubs on the ends of the segments (petals and sepals) can often be the distinguishing feature with many of the Arachnorchis (Spider Orchids).

Atypical Cyrtostylis leaves

These leaves are an unusual shape and by themselves are not suitable for identification

The time has arrived

If  you want to see the Helmet Orchids, now it the time of year to find them.  My understanding is that the time from leaf mergence to capsule is about six weeks.  In the past week I’ve seen Corysanthes diemenica (Veined Helmet Orchid) both in the north and the south of the Adelaide Hills.  Corysanthes incurva ( Slaty Helmet Orchid) appears slightly later, end July early August, and will now be in bud.  Look for them amongst the leaf litter.

 

Corysanthes diemenica (Veined Helmet Orchid)
Corysanthes diemenica (Veined Helmet Orchid)