2017 April Winning Picture

1704 LN Diuris behrii sm

April’s theme was yellow and orange. All of the entries proved to be spring flowering. There were several Diuris. Claire Chesson, Rob Pauley and John Fennel all entered D. orientis; Les Nesbitt and Rob Pauley D. behrii and Pauline Meyer D. corymbosa from Western Australia. Pauline also entered Caladenia caesaria subsp. maritima and John Thelymitra benthamiana.

The winning picture was Les Nesbitt’s D. behrii (Cowslip Orchid) which occurs in Victoria, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory whilst in South Australia it is rated as vulnerable.

Les Nesbitt has been working on a recovery project of these orchids for Hillgrove Resource’s flagship, the Kanmantoo Copper Mine, located almost 55 KM from Adelaide. As this orchid is often mentioned in NOSSA Journals, it might be worthwhile looking at the person after whom this species was named.

First collected by German born Dr Hans Herman Behr (1818 – 1904) who first visited* South Australia in 1844 when the colony was barely 8 years old. During his two years in South Australia he became the first person to systematically study our botany and entomology sending reports and samples back home. The results of his observations were published in various journals, and many of his collections were named and described by other botanists including his friend, Diedreich von Schlechtendal (1794 – 1866) who named Diuris behrii after Hans.

Hans Behr was an interesting man. A man of many aptitudes; medical doctor, entomologist, anthropologist, botanist, duellist, socialist, poet, novelist, linguist, member of the Bohemian Club of San Francisco and a man of wit. From the many reminiscences written about him, it would appear that he was a likeable gentleman and a generous teacher.

Unfortunately, not everyone liked him because “he was a sworn enemy of all scientific humbug, of quacks and false pretenders” and “he never refrained from expressing his opinion of them, quite regardless of person or station” but his humour shone forth in dealing with them. Once he named a “particularly obnoxious louse” after one of his enemies.

Behr revisited South Australia in 1848 during which time he became acquainted with German-Australian botanist, Ferdinand von Meuller. He maintained friendship with many of the scientific men of the time including Ferdinand Mueller and it was through this friendship that many Australian plants were introduced into California where Behr later settled after his travels.

Though the study of butterflies was his first and enduring love, he is remembered and honoured in Australia for his botanical interests. Of the twenty-two plants named after Behr, two are orchids: Diuris behrii and Arachnorchis behrii (synonym Caladenia behrii).

*The Journal incorrectly stated that he visited South Australia with his friend, Diedreich von Schlechtendal. This did not happen. As far as I am aware Schlechtendal did not visit South Australia.

Reference

https://archive.org/details/doctorhansherman00cali

https://archive.org/stream/jstor-1630874/1630874_djvu.txt

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Hermann_Behr

https://www.anbg.gov.au/biography/behr-hermann.html

Kraehenbuehl, D. N., Dr HH Behr’s Two Visits to South Australia in 1844-45 and 1848-49, J. Adelaide Bot. Gard. 3(1): 101 – 123 (1981)

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

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2017 March Winning Picture

As part of 40th NOSSA anniversary, the theme for this month was Leptoceras menziesii (Hare Orchid or Rabbit Ears). Entries were received from John Badger, Pauline Meyers, Robert and Rosalie Lawrence, with John Badger’s being declared the winner.

1703 sm JB Leptoceras menziesii

In February 1978, it was announced that the nascent NOSSA society required an emblem. Members were invited to send in drawings, to be judged by members and then ratified by the committee. Mrs Chris Butler (Ron Robjohns’ daughter) was the winner. The first Leptoceras menziesii flowers to be benched at a NOSSA meeting were in September 1978. It appears to be an easy plant to grow but a most difficult one to flower.

This seems to be because it is fire dependent. In spring, it will flower profusely if there has been a summer fire such as occurred after the 2015 Sampson Flat (SA) fires. It is possible that the gas ethylene produced during a fire event may initiate the flowering response.

Otherwise, apart from the occasional flowering plant, it will be mainly leaves that are found when out in the field. The single leaf of this plant lying prostrate along the ground is distinctive. It is firm, boat-shaped, glabrous (no hairs), with a fine ‘snake-skin’ pattern. Interestingly, sterile plants can be mistaken for a plant with a developing bud as there will be at the leaf base a ligule (a thin membranous growth, often found on grass stems).

 

Reference

Backhouse, G, et al (2016) Bush Gems: A Guide to the Wild Orchids of Victoria Electronic version

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

Lawrence, R. W., (2011) Start With The Leaves

NOSSA Journal Volume 2 No 6 July 1978

NOSSA Journal Volume 2 No 9 October 1978

Gleanings from the Journal – Have Our Orchids Changed?

Ten years ago, the then NOSSA secretary, Cathy Houston, wrote an article reflecting upon orchid name changes.  Since then there have been more name changes. The issues she raised then are still pertinent today. Whilst we continue to learn more about our orchids, name changes are going to happen.

NOSSA Journal Volume 31 No 2 March 2007

HAVE OUR ORCHIDS CHANGED?                                                           Cathy Houston (Secretary)

This month the Native Orchid Society of South Australia celebrates its thirtieth “birthday”. A review of the first five years of the Society’s Newsletters/Journals (yes, they were newsletters in the earliest days) reveals some interesting points. By 1979 “A total of 110 species [of orchids] and 14 varieties” were accepted. The following are some interesting aspects about the knowledge of, and what was then current thinking about, our orchids at that time. It must be remembered that no comprehensive book on South Australian orchids existed in those days, especially not any field guides. The most useful “tools” the members had to work with were Blacks Flora of South Australia and W.H. Nicholls “Orchids of Australia”. In 1979 “A Checklist of Orchidaceae on South Australia” by J.Z. Weber: Changes introduced in the new ‘Black’s Flora” by R. Bates, appeared as a full issue of the Native Orchid Society of South Australia Journal.

Today we sometimes struggle to grasp all the fine differences when orchid species, or species groups, are split, but spare a thought for those wanting to identify with what they have seen in the field back in about 1979. An article by R. Bates describes the “Variations within the species Caladenia dilatata R.Br. in South Australia”. “There are, at present, two recognised varieties” viz. C. dilatata var. dilatata and C. dilatata var. concinna. Within these two varieties are further more divisions into distinct sub-varieties or races! At that time there were six distinct forms recognised; how much easier today, now that they are named as species. These would now include C. tentaculata, C. verrucosa, C. stricta, C. toxochila and C. conferta.

Orchid 1 Arachnorchis tentaculata

 Arachnorchis tentaculata (King spider Orchid)  syn Caladenia tentaculata

Recognition of what could be species has long been apparent. Take for example the article written in 1980 about two forms of Pterostylis nana, viz. what we commonly refer to as the ‘Hills’ form and the ‘Mallee’ form. This article documents the obvious morphological differences and illustrates this with line drawings and a map showing distributions of the two. Electronic Orchids of S.A. currently recognises five possible species of P. nana for South Australia. These are probably all un-named, since David Jones, in “Native Orchids of Australia”, does not recognise true P. nana in our state. Similarly, an article written in 1981 discusses the P. alatascabrarobusta complex. The author recognises there are “at least four species of this group in South Australia”. This is the first time the authors acknowledge they should be elevated to species, not just accepted as varieties or forms. At that time P. robusta was treated at varietal level, viz. P. scabra var. robusta or P. alata var. robusta. Ultimately most of these have been elevated to species level (P. dolichochila, P. erythroconcha, P. robusta, and P. striata).

It was noted that in 1978 David Jones and Ray Nash were currently working on Pterostylis. Further to that Les Nesbitt notes that of the sixty or so Pterostylis in Australia, South Australia has twenty-two species. One wonders what the count is now. It is well known that David Jones is currently/still working on the Pterostylis group, with more species being recognised regularly.

Thelymitra x irregularis

Thelymitra x irregularis or Pink Spotted Sun Orchid was photographed in 2009 near Macclesfield

In a series of articles produced about “Our rarest orchids” in 1977 we find the comment “Very few of our orchids are thought to be extinct… . “One wonders what that number would be considered to be today. The same article talks about the demise of Pterostylis cucullata and the possibility that it may no longer exist in the wild. Certainly this is one of our highly endangered species for which recovery actions are being undertaken these days. [N.O.S.S.A. members have an opportunity to assist with this work starting on April 14th – see diary dates.] In 1977 there was excitement when, following a field trip to Belair National Park one member returned the following day and “the elusive Pterostylis cucullata” was seen “growing in association with P. curta”. In 1981, following a discussion and review of endangered orchids in South Australia, R. Bates writes “There are a number of endangered species in S.A. which have not yet been named. It is not unlikely that some of these will become extinct before they are even described properly.” With such a large number of as yet undescribed orchids in our state, let us hope this does not happen.

Naturally occurring hybrids and the naming of such, has been debated regularly within botanical circles. In 1978 this insight is shown by Ray Nash who “guided us to a nearby patch of Thelymitra macmillanii,…… Ray’s view is that this will probably turn out to be a hybrid, possibly between antennifera (which it closely resembles) and rubra or luteocilium.” In 1980 T. decora [T. x truncata] was featured as one of South Australia’s rarest orchids. It was thought to be of hybrid origin and three forms were recognised then. The probable parents were T. ixioides x T. longifolia, T. ixioides x T. pauciflora, and T. ixioides x T. mucida. Today with the naming of many species within the T. pauciflora complex, it is now being recognised that there are even more combinations producing similar type flowers, e.g. T. juncifolia, which gives rise to the spotted features, x T. brevifolia.

Name changes always raise controversy. A brief explanation giving some insight into this complex area can be picked up when an author is expanding on the front cover illustration of Corybas. “In fact, they should never have been called Corybas in the first place. They were discovered by Robert Brown during the Flinders Expedition (1801 – 1805), and illustrated by the Austrian Ferdinand Bauer, another of the members of the expedition. Brown called them Corysanthes from the Greek “korys” (a helmet) and “anthos” (a flower), and they were known for many years by that name. However, in this instance, justice was never truly done, because the decision was made to call them Corybas, the name previously allotted by R.A. Salisbury in 1805, on the strength of seeing Bauer’s illustrations.” More recent times have seen that injustice righted with the name reverting to Corysanthes, something brought about through the work of David Jones. Similarly, the latest naming of Corunastylis tepperi follows this, The International Code of Botanical Nomenclature, a name that was recognised by R. Bates in an article written in 1981! However, Bates concludes that P. tepperi and P. nigricans are synonymous, so the latter prevails, but “further work needs to be done”! He is also the author of an article depicting some name changes in 1980. If our readers are confused by “new” names, then just think what it was like for those in 1980 when, among others, Caladenia carnea, and all its five varieties, is changed to C. catenata, with all its varieties, two of which are C. catenata var. gigantea and C. catenata var. minor. Two others were elevated to C. pusilla and C. alba.

 

Corysanthes diemenica 077

Corysanthes diemenica (Veined Helmet Orchid)

At one time our esteemed orchidologist was asked to comment on a list of name changes being proposed for the revision of Black’s Flora of S.A. “My first reaction was to state that everyone would be happiest if no changes were made”! However, in fairness to that gentleman, it must be said that by the time he had worked through a lengthy consultation with botanists covering much of Australasia, a revision of type specimens and other material and associated literature, he was clearly of the opinion that the changes were warranted.

Have our orchids changed? Maybe, but what has really changed is our knowledge and understanding of these unique plants. Based on that knowledge, opinions, attitudes and ideas have changed. Thirty years ago it was not “policy to differentiate between the numerous forms of C. patersonii in this State …” Today we have numerous named species in this complex, without actually any Caladenia patersonii as such.

The final word must come from Peter Hornsby when he said “The ultimate aim should be for the reader to know which plant is being discussed, rather than whether or not the title is absolutely correct.”

References:

Native Orchid Society of South Australia Journal.

1. 1977 Vol. 1 #5 2. Vol. 1 #9 3. 1978 Vol. 2 #2 4. Vol. 2 #6
5. Vol. 2 #7 6. 1979 Vol. 3 #1 7. Vol. 3 #6 8. Vol. 3 #9
10. 1980 Vol. 4. #3 11. Vol. 4 #4 12. Vol. 4 #6 13. Vol. 4 #7
14. 1981 Vol. 5 #1 15. Vol. 5 #3 16. Vol. 5 #4 17. Vol. 5 #6

Black J.M. 1978. Flora of South Australia, Part 1, Third Edition. Handbooks Committee, South Australia.

Jones David L. 2006. A Complete Guide to Native Orchids of Australia, Including the Island Territories. Reed New Holland, Australia.

Nicholls, W. H. 1969. Orchids of Australia; The Complete Edition. Thomas Nelson, Australia.

ORCHID COLLECTING AND THE LAW

South Australia has some beautiful and delicate orchids.  Most are not showy.  Instead they have a subtle attractive beauty.  But they are declining; and for that reason, they are protected by the law, specifically the Native Vegetation Act 1991.  Picking the flower is illegal let alone digging up the whole plant.

The only situation where a person can legally remove an orchid or part thereof is when they hold a government authorised permit. Legitimate reasons for collecting orchid material include specimen for the State Herbarium, scientific research, rescue or salvage situations when a development is occurring, or collecting seed of threatened species to store with the Seed Conservation Centre.

Without a permit, no one can remove any part of a plant even if their reason is legitimate.

It behoves members to be cautious of any one that asks for assistance with collecting, transporting or photographing potted orchids.  Ask to see their permit.  So, what do you do if you suspect someone of picking the flowers or digging up the plants?  Contact the Department Environment and Natural Resources Investigation and Compliance Unit.

There is only a very small number of NOSSA members who hold such permits.  Thelma Bridle, NOSSA Conservation Officer, is the person who will know which members hold a permit.  For more information on plant collection permits, contact DEWNR at DEWNRresearchpermits@sa.gov.au or visit the website.

Thank you to Thelma Bridle and Doug Bickerton for their assistance and critiquing of this post.

Murray Mallee Midges_2007E_6Jun11

Corunastylis sp. Dark Midge Ngarkat Conservation Park Photo: June Niejalke

September 2016 Winning Picture

Spring is here and it was reflected in the variety and large number of entries.  Lorraine Badger and Ros Miller entered Western Australian species – Caladenia x ericksoniae (Prisoner Orchid) and Paracaelana nigrita (Flying Duck Orchid) respectively.  The other six entries were all from South Australia, Diplodium robustum (Common Green Shell Orchid), Caleana major (Flying Duck Orchid) both from Jane Higgs, Greg Sara’s Oligochaetochilus sp (Rufoushood), Judy Sara’s Arachnorchis leptochila (Queen Spider Orchid), Claire Chesson’s Diuris behrii (Cowslip Orchid or Golden Moths) and the outstanding winning picture Pterostylis cucullata by Bevin Scholz.

 1609-sm-bs-pterostylis-cucullata

In many ways, Bevin’s picture of P. cucullata (Leafy Greenhood) is a special picture because it represents some of the conservation work with which NOSSA is involved. For many years NOSSA has worked with the Threatened Plant Action Group (TPAG) to weed the areas in Belair where this species is located and to see such a good show of plants is encouraging.  It is a tribute to all who have contributed with their time and labour.

P. cucullata is rated Vulnerable both in South Australia and Victoria, and Endangered in Tasmania. It is also rated Vulnerable under the EPBC Act (Federal). Nationally it is known from about 110 sites with most of these sites being in Victoria and only a few sites in South Australia with Belair National Park having the largest and most important population for the state.

Historically this species covered an area of 2107 km2 in the Lofty Block region but that has now contracted by 82% to only 366 km2 with few locations. With such a reduced range, recovery plans were developed, both at state and federal level.  The plans examined the risks and threats to the survival of the different populations.

One of the threats to this orchid is fire, including proscribed burns.  Unlike some species such as Pyrorchis nigricans, Leptoceras menziesii or Prasophyllum elatum which flower well after fire, P. cucullata is fire sensitive; populations decline substantially.  There does not seem to be a safe time to burn for this species.  Should a population survive a burn, it would take it many years to recover.

Fire also leaves the population vulnerable to another threat, that of weed invasion.  Unfortunately, it is weedy where this species survives but over the years, a consistent, targeted weeding program has resulted in a declining weed population.  NOSSA and TPAG have appreciated the work and effort of volunteers and gladly welcome anyone else who would like to join. And one of the rewards? A beautiful, sunlit display of flowers as seen in Bevin’s picture.

Reference:

Duncan, M. (2010). National Recovery Plan for the Leafy Greenhood Pterostylis cucullata. Department of Sustainability and Environment, Victoria https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/14e1ae30-5cf7-4be6-8a35-2c752886c14f/files/pterostylis-cucullata.pdf

Nature Conservation Society of South Australia (2009) DRAFT RESPONSE ON THE BELAIR NATIONAL PARK TRAILS MASTERPLAN: PRELIMINARY ISSUE January 2009  http://www.ncssa.asn.au/images/stories/ncssasubmission_belairnptrails_masterplan_jan09_final.pdf

Quarmby, J.P. (2010) Recovery Plan for Twelve Threatened Orchids in the Lofty Block Region of South Australia 2010. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, South Australia https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/e362cfd2-a37b-443a-b007-db3a2b7b64dd/files/lofty-block-orchids-recovery-plan.pdf

NOSSA 2012 – 2016

The Native Orchid Society of South Australia (NOSSA) is affiliated with the national body of native orchid society, Australian Native Orchid Society (ANOS).  NOSSA regularly sends reports of its to ANOS.  This year’s report covered four years of the society’s activities and is reproduced here to give readers an idea of the many things that we do.  This report was produced by Robert Lawrence (currently Vice President).

NOSSA REPORT 2012 to 2016

I believe that the last annual report from the Native Orchid Society of South Australia was in 2011 when we were just commencing a three-year plan with the establishment of a series of subcommittees. All of the committees have since ceased to exist, but not without significant accomplishments.

The Website Subcommittee had established a website, but a Webmaster has since been appointed. The website now uses WordPress and is maintained so that its management could easily be transferred to another person. The website provides a weekly educational post about Australian orchids. It has also provided a point of contact from those outside of the Society. It is linked to a Facebook page that increases the profile of NOSSA among those interested in orchids throughout Australia and beyond.

The Education Subcommittee had established a picture competition at the monthly general meetings. There is still only a small number of contributors, but many excellent pictures are shared. The winning picture from each meeting is used as a basis of one of the weekly posts on the website.

Advertising v1

The Education Subcommittee had a vision to produce a brochure of 20 common orchids of the Adelaide region for free distribution to the general public. The NRM (Natural Resources Management) Education ran with the idea and produced a poster of Common native orchids of the Adelaide Hills. This provided brief, but comprehensive, profiles of 29 native orchids and the weedy species. This has been printed as a double-sided poster and is available from the website of Natural Resources Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges. NOSSA members worked with NRM staff on the details of the poster and NOSSA members contributed many of the photographs. This poster was completed and launched in April 2015.

NOSSA also provided monetary assistance as a loan with the publication of the field guide entitled, Start with the leaves. A field guide to common orchids and lilies of the Adelaide Hills. This guide covered 50 orchid species as well as native lilies and some weeds in the Iridaceae family that are sometimes mistaken as orchids. The contribution of $8,000 was recovered only 8 months after publication.

The Disc Publication Sub-editing Subcommittee saw the publication of South Australia’s Native Orchids on DVD discs in time for the Spring Show in September 2011. Both the DVD and the book were published in time for the Spring Show in September 2011. Both continue to sell.

Title Page

A new subcommittee has been established in February 2016 to oversee the publication of a field guide, expected to be called Wild Orchids of South Australia.  It is proving to be a challenge to be brief enough to reduce the information to a size suitable for a field guide. (Editor’s note: it has since been decided to defer this until after the development of the interactive website, see below.)

NOSSA members have being working since 2014 to establish an interactive website and database modelled on the Go Botany website run by the New England Wild Flower Society in the USA. This was supported by a grant from the Australian Orchid Foundation.  The project is called Wild Orchid Watch. It is hoped to produce an interactive, web-based orchid identification tool. Recording sightings through such means as apps on mobile telephones are also being investigated.

In 2014 NOSSA made a donation to help establish the Orchid Conservation Program. This was led by Dr Noushka Reiter. Once established, staff in the Department for Environment, Water and Natural Resources began to organise a trial with four threatened orchid species from South Australia. Noushka visited South Australia during 2015 and collected samples from each of these species and isolated fungi from these. Seed was also collected and work on propagation commenced in 2015. During 2016 NOSSA sponsored the propagation of one of the four species through the Adelaide Botanic Gardens. Caladenia gladiolata, an endemic species, was selected.

20150922_210750

Paul Beltrame, a secondary teacher at Kildare College, contacted and joined NOSSA during 2014 with the interest in getting girls at this school involved in the propagation of native orchids. A program was organised modelled in the Orchids in Schools program run by the Orchid Club of South Australia with Les Nesbitt’s involvement.

A delegation from Kildare College, ably assisted by their enthusiastic laboratory assistant Nenah McKenzie, visited Noushka in Melbourne and learnt the technique for separating and growing fungi. They have since separated fungi from two of our more common greenhood species and supplied this for seed kits that were made available to members as a trial at the start of the 2016 growing season.

The trial of seed kits was done for Pterostylis nana and Pterostylis sanguinea. A trial was conducted in this growing season of seed kits for members. Kits included a pot, growing media, seed, fungus, mulch and instructions. There seems to be limited success with the current round, but improvements are planned from the lessons learnt. One particular growing mix proved successful with a small number of seedlings appearing. The contribution of the Orchids in Schools program at Kildare College has been necessary for the isolation and production of fungi for the kits.

In October 2012 Cathy Houston and Robert Lawrence collected seed of Pterostylis arenicola from the only population on the Adelaide plains after monitoring in September indicated a good year for seed production. The seed was germinated in 2013 and was deflasked at a working bee at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens in early August 2016. The students from the Orchids in Schools program at Kildare College participated. Latest reports are that 40 plants look like surviving. These will be used for seed production and for reintroduction.

Oligochaetochilus arenicolaHL

Typical of the rufus hood this Oligochaetochilus arenicola shows the sencesing leaves, pendent petals and hairs on the labellum. Photographer: H Lawrence

In 2012 NOSSA was asked to care for and propagate rescued Diuris behrii plants from Hillgrove Resources Mining Lease near Kanmantoo in the Mt. Lofty Ranges. The plan was to maintain the rescued orchid clones in cultivation for several years and to produce additional plants for reintroduction within the mining lease area each Autumn. A comprehensive recording and auditing system has been put in place to track each clone and any seed/daughter tubers/plants. By August 2015 there were 609 plants with 75 original mother plants. There were 95 daughter plants returned to the site for revegetation in each of the years 2014, 2015 and 2016, a total of 285 plants.

Funding from Hillgrove Resources has assisted NOSSA financially and has made it possible to consider funding conservation work. NOSSA is planning to apply for charity status so that donations can be used for tax deductions. Donations will then be feasible through our website. We are also starting an orchid seed bank. Seed will be available only to members and it is hoped that this will increase our membership. There is a demand for Australian orchids overseas and it is hoped that this will become a means for raising funds for conservation. Other means of fund-raising such as sausage sizzles and selling kits for craftwork are also being considered.

NOSSA members still continue to be involved in surveys and monitoring threatened orchids.  Members have been involved in the planning of monitoring.

montage-weeding

Weeding and Monitoring, two of NOSSA’s conservation activities

The management committee of NOSSA is currently working on a revision to the Rules of Association. In the current version there is a two-year limit on the term of the President of two years. In the first 16 years from 1977 there were there were eight different presidents before one had a second term. Bill Dear was president in alternate terms until he retired and moved to Western Australia in 2012. Robert Lawrence was elected president in March 2014, but for the first time in 2016 there were no nominations for president and he was nominated to the role of vice president with no other nominations. The management committee has appointed a subcommittee to review the Rules in relation to the terms of the president. Another change planned is change from having monthly general meetings to having less formal monthly meetings at which no decisions are made or minutes kept. All resolutions will require calling a formal special meeting. This idea is adapted from the approach used by ANOS Victoria.

Over the last two years NOSSA has asked new and renewing members to complete a survey of their interests. This has proved to be an effective way of getting information on the interests of our members with 79 responses, this being about half of the number of memberships. This is an overall summary of the results ranked according to number of responses:

 Area of interest

Responses Percentage
General Orchid Knowledge 53 67%
Field Trips 48 61%
Photography 47 59%
Conservation 46 58%
Growing Terrestrials 35 44%
Surveys 30 38%
Growing Epiphytes 28 35%
Citizen Science 20 26%

At its establishment NOSSA was primarily a Society of orchid growers. These figures reflect a decline in interest in growing orchids. The figures are somewhat surprising in that the numbers interested in growing orchids are much larger than the number of growers. Presumably some of these are interested in learning with a view to getting involved with growing later.  At least we hope this is the case.

We are certainly noticing a decline both in our numbers of growers and in members involved in surveys due to age and health.

The greatest number expressed an interest in general knowledge and we are relying on the Journal and the Website help to keep people interested and informed. Next was field trips, but we haven’t had that many that have attended field trips in in the last few years. Only 11 of those who expressed an interested in field trips are not interested in photography, the next item of interest, and only 10 people interested in photography were not interested in field trips. Not many of these share their photographs at monthly meetings. We are hoping to get members to make their photographs available for the identification guides.

Bearded Orchid

Bearded Orchid Photo: Helen Lawrence

It is pleasing that 58% are interested in conservation, thus supporting the efforts of our Conservation Officer.

Growing terrestrial orchids was next on the list; we hope that the tuber bank and the NOSSA Seed Kits are meeting the demand from members. Twenty-two of the 41 interested in growing orchids are interested in growing both terrestrial and epiphytic orchids. Only 8 of the respondents are bringing plants to meetings and a couple of others have not completed the survey. Of those interested in growing terrestrial orchids, one is a former grower and another is interested in growing them in situ at revegetation sites.

Thirty members expressed an interest in doing orchid surveys and three of these are interested in participating in the future, presumably when more time is available.

Citizen science is a new concept to many and came last in our list of interests. One who did not indicate an interest said he was monitoring orchids at a particular site; this has been taken as an interest. Surveys are certainly one form of citizen science and only 2 of those who indicated an interest in citizen science did not indicate an interest in being involved in surveys now or in the future. Thirteen of the 30 interested in surveys did not express an interest in citizen science. If these were included, interest in citizen science would be 43%.

Only seven members indicated an interest in all of the categories and one of these wants to keep in touch with the club and with old friends.

The Annual Spring Show in September 2015 was a particular success, largely due to the efforts of one our new members in promoting the show through local media and by other means. We also benefited from the donation of collections of growers who had decided not to continue with their collections.

Garden display

Annual NOSSA Spring Show

NOSSA has continued to maintain a tuber bank that is available for members. A small number of our members are also members of ANOS Victoria, and have obtained tubers from their collection. This is hopefully contributing to the variety of terrestrial orchids grown by our members.

Working bees continued to be conducted in association with the Threatened Plant Action Group at Belair National Park for improving habitat for the nationally endangered Pterostylis cucullata (Leafy Greenhood), at Grange Golf Club to protect and monitor Pterostylis arenicola (Sandhill Greenhood) this being nationally vulnerable and locally endangered and on York Peninsula in conjunction with a local Friends group for the nationally endangered Caladenia intuta.

NOSSA has for many years used Australian Orchid Club (AOC) judges and knowledgeable members, who have all studied the ANOS judging rules, to judge orchids at NOSSA monthly meetings and shows. As the number of judges has fallen in recent years, judging training sessions have had to been discontinued. We wait in anticipation for a proposed ANOS judges correspondence course, as we have for more than 10 years. There are at least three AOC judges interested in the ANOS judging correspondence course. It is disappointing that ANOS Awards are still limited to Queensland, New South Wates and Victoria.

In summary, NOSSA continues to be active in many ways and these activities are working together to support each other.

Interested in these activities, why not join up and get involved.  Click here for Membership details.

10 sm RAL Diuris brevifolia

Diuris brevifolia (Late Donkey Orchid)

 

 

Snapshot of Australian Orchid Conservation

Internationally, there is concern about the decline of orchids as seen in the resolutions passed in May 2016 at the International Orchid Conservation Congress Conference.  In Australia, there are many orchid conservation projects in progress both in situ and ex situ.

The following are some examples of the varied work being done around the country by volunteers, orchid enthusiasts, ecologists, conservationists, academics and government departments.

And here in South Australia there are also various projects. Dr Noushka Reiter is also working with the South Australian Seedbank to help propagate four of our very threatened orchids.  Members of the Native Orchid Society are assisting as also are Paul Beltrame (teacher) and students from Kildare College through the Orchid in Schools Project.

06 sm PM Arachnorchis argocalla

 

Gleanings From the Journal #3 – Native Orchids The Epiphytes: August

The following article is from Vol. 32 No 7 August 2008 Journal of the Native Orchid Society of South Australia Inc.

Dendrobium speciosum

Dendrobium speciosum

Native Orchids. The Epiphytes: August.
Steve Howard

Movement of our natives towards flowering is often rapid.  How often do we look at our plants thinking that they will never be out in time then take a look the week after and they have doubled in size.  Dendrobium speciosum is a classic example of this.  One minute the plant is covered in acorn like flower buds then a week later there are bunches of flowering buds everywhere.  There is the temptation to force them on but I would leave that until the last two weeks prior to show before making that call.  Then we have the Sarcochilus.  These can stay in bud for months and not do a thing then suddenly they are away.

On the epiphyte side we should have a heap of buds everywhere on the flowering plants.  They key is to keep these under cover and away from rain and also slugs and snails that have a nasty habit of chomping into them.  Rain exaggerates fungal problems that will rot out a flower spike overnight.  Also avoid temperature extremes, especially once the buds start showing on a lengthening spike.  Bud drop occurs quickly and the loss of even one bud will sway the judge’s decision.  Even and strong light now becomes important especially for those epiphytes with Den. speciosum and Den. kingianum in the backgroundThe reason is we need to create strong upright racemes to support the flowers.  No point having the spikes hanging over the side of the plant and then have the flowers doing the same.  Some species do have this trait and as such do not make very good parents if this trait is passed on in hybridisation.  I like my flowers to look at me and cannot see the point in lying on the ground and looking up at the plants on the bench.  Strong light will assist this spike development as does the potassium and potash in the fertiliser.  This is also a reason we tend to avoid high nitrogen feeds in our feeding programme.  Even light is also important in order that the flowers will be evenly distributed around the pot as opposed to all facing the one way.  Hanging flowering plants is one way we can get this even light.

Now is also a good time to clean up our plants before flowering.  Remove husks over the canes, remove dead leafless canes and trim and clean the leaves.  It is easier to do this now whilst the spikes are on the small side.  Also give the pots a scrub too.  All of these tips will help make things a little easier when it comes time to prepare the plants before show.  Also make sure you have some fresh topping for the pots.  It’s these little things that helps improve the presentation of our plants.

Only remove leafless canes if you think they have completed their flowering potential as many will flower for years after losing leaves or if the cane affects the appearance of the plant.  If the forward growths are struggling under no circumstance remove the leafless cane unless it is absolutely dead as the struggling plant would be relying on stored nutrients in this cane to survive.  I would then concentrate on why is the plant in the state in the first place.

Dendrobium bigibbum

Dendrobium bigibbum

Even though we are two months away from re potting and dividing our plants it is now time to take stock of what plants will be potted on, divided or sold off on the trading table.  That way we can arrange pots, mix etc in preparation.  The other thing I am looking at now is where am I going to move my plants this year.  Last years heat exposed many plants that are susceptible to heat and with the probability that this will happen more frequently in the future there is the need to move these prone plants from where they are at present.  Leave them where they are and the same thing will happen again.  There will also be the need that these tender plants be removed from the collection and the emphasis placed on more hardy species and hybrids.

Watering will be dependent on the hybrids you grow and where the parents originate from.  Most of the hot/cold type have the tropical hard cane types in the breeding eg Den. bigibbum and these require dry winters so we need to take this into account here.  I do not dry them out completely but then again don’t water them frequently either.  I aim for slightly moist at all times to keep the roots in good condition.  The others with Den. speciosum, kingianum, falcorostrum all come from cooler climates that receive winter rains and as such can handle being damp over winter.  Avoid over wetness as this will be to the detriment of the plants.  These plants require a short dry period after flowering to mimic the same dry spring period experienced in the areas where most of them come from.  I find that with our reduced rainfall of late, nature provides my plants with enough water apart from the mounted plants that get the odd mist or squirt.  Any watering should be confined to the warmer part of the day after lunch.  Early morning squirts with water from a hose that has been sitting on a frozen ground all night will not do your plants any favours.  Feeding during these cooler months is infrequent and if you miss them for a month or more will not cause too many issues.  Plants under cover get watered every couple of weeks and these are usually the hot colds.

You will have a few late season new growths reaching full size.  Keep an eye on these as they are very prone to rot when water sits in the axils of the new growths.  If you notice a growth go reddish or yellow it is a good bet that it has rotted.  You can cut the growth off below the infection and treat with a fungicide.  I then dry the plant out as a precaution and take a mental note.  This plant will always be prone to attack.

My plant of the month is Den. aemulum, the feather orchid.  This compact growing epiphyte comes from central NSW (New South Wales) to Qld (Queensland) and comes in 2 forms.  The iron bark form strangely enough grows on the iron bark tree, a heavily permanent barked member of the eucalyptus family.  It has small cylindrical psuedobulbs that grow in a radial pattern topped with two small and rather thick leaves.  Small white clusters of flowers that go pink as they age are borne apically over several seasons from the one cane.  The other form commonly seen is the brush box form.  This is the long caned variety and the two are found in similar areas.  These are not often seen in collections and have the habit of slowly fading away in cultivation unless their requirements of light, a suitable host and conditions are met.  I have several plants on different hosts and the results are mixed.  The best plant grows east on a slab of hardwood in a rather protected spot and is the brush box form.  The iron bark forms appear to struggle on mounts of Callistemon and paperbark.  Maybe it is the acidic gummy excretions from the bark of the ironbark that are missing.  These plants have not been used in hybridisation very much as they do not have the traits that hybridists are looking for.  Nevertheless I find them a very attractive flower when grown into a specimen plant and they will always have a place in my collection.  They are not easy to obtain and generally restricted to those that have permits to collect them from the wild.

Next month is September and with it the warming weather and a profusion of flowers.  We will look at a few tips to help with the presentation of show flowers but also look back at those that did not flower well or flower at all and see where we can improve and what went wrong.

Epiphytes in flower (1)

Annual NOSSA Spring Show

Gleanings from the Journals #2 – Harold Goldsack (27/6/1908 – 25/4/1989)

 

[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.

R Bates

53KB Prasaphyllum goldsackii

Prasophyllum goldsackii – Photographer Ken Bayley

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!!

 

Gleanings From The Journals: Who Was Our First Conservation Officer?

As the following article indicates there is much to be learnt from the old journals so much so that from time to time there will be a series of posts titled Gleanings from the Journals.

This first of the series was taken from Volume 36 No 10, November 2012 Journal of the Native Orchid of South Australia.

WHO WAS OUR FIRST CONSERVATION OFFICER?

Recently I’ve been looking over the old NOSSA Journals. I like (my husband says addictive!) reading history and even more reading original source material, so it’s not surprising that I’ve enjoyed this activity. There are some lovely gems in them. I like to read about the people, which brings me to the title of this article – Who was our first Conservation Officer?

Well if you ask Thelma Bridle, she’ll say that it was Karen Possingham but when I read in the April 1984 edition, I see that Margaret Fuller is said to be “the initiator of the Conservation Group” back in 1982. Margaret had a long involvement with the Bird Care and Conservation Group. She headed the NOSSA group who collaborated with the Education Department to produce Pic-a-Pac, an orchid teaching package for the schools.

Yet was Margaret the first? For I then read of two foundational members. Roy Hargreaves who is described as a “keen conservationist, ambassador and liaison person with numerous groups including SGAP, OCSA, Parks and Wildlife, the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, Black Hill Flora Research Centre, … an initiator of the R. S. Rogers Orchid House.” The other is Ron Robjohns who “drafted the Society’s Constitution and By-laws and formulated the Society’s Conservation Policy.” But ….. there is a third contender amongst the founding members – Peter Hornsby, the Society’s first editor and an organiser of field trips. Peter was always putting articles in the Journals relating to conservation. A keen conservationist and current member, he resigned his role as editor in 1981 to “concentrate on his study of the behaviour of the Yellow-footed Rock Wallaby in the North Flinders Ranges.” And yet we could continue for there were other foundational members who took a keen interest in conservation.

So who was our first Conservation Officer? Well, Thelma is right. It was Karen Possingham. She was the first one to have the title Conservation Officer when she was appointed to the role in March 1992 – fifteen years after the founding of the Society, and remained in that role until May 1997 when she became a councillor with the Burnside City Council. Karen formalised many activities, organizing bi-monthly meetings, Conservation Booths at the various NOSSA shows, lobbying, weeding, etc

Below is her report of their first meeting.

CONSERVATION GROUP PRIORITIES SET                                       K. Possingham

The first meeting of the 1992 NOSSA Orchid Conservation Sub-Committee was held on Wednesday 15th April. The following priorities were set at the meeting:

1) Lobby politicians; resolution to write letters to the Minister of the Environment, to National Parks and Wildlife, Department of Environmental Planning, Woods and Forests and Leaders of the Opposition Parties, and request a meeting in July to discuss Orchid Conservation strategy.

Liaise with other Conservation groups such as the Conservation Council; join at first as an Association Member and find out about South Australia’s conservation concerns and needs.

3) Monitor Hills Zone development; – liaise with Mt. Lofty Ranges Conservation Association.

4) Prioritise high risk sites that are not managed properly and in danger of clearance, habitat degradation etc.

5) In short term adopt a Reserve such as Belair National Park in order to monitor known Orchid populations, raise Society profile and provide assistance in weeding and other such requirements. This will provide conservation experience for members. There is easy access to Belair from Adelaide and the park and conservation activities should appeal to younger members as well as older members: we’ll be doing something concrete!

6) Possibility to apply for funding from Endangered Species Program, World Wildlife Fund and Save the Bush, to work on endangered orchids.

7) Education: area at Warrawong to be fenced off from animals for native orchids to be established and protected.

Meetings are to be held bi-monthly: Next meeting will be held on Wednesday, 10th June at 8

P.M. Anyone is welcome. Enquiries Karen Possingham, Conservation Officer, ph 364 0671.

Karen remained involved with the Conservation Group until the family moved to Queensland in 2000 where her husband Hugh took a chair in the departments of Mathematics and Biological Sciences at the University of Queensland. Prior to leaving Adelaide, Hugh had been President of the Nature Conservation Council, Professor of Environmental Science and Management at Adelaide University and instrumental in initiating biodiversity planning in South Australia. Hugh has made various trips back to Adelaide will be back here on 27th November to talk about Citizen Science prior to the Uni SA and ABC 891 Great Koala Count the next day.

I have wandered a bit from Karen as NOSSA’s first Conservation Officer but from what I can see in reading the Journals Hugh and Karen worked together in conservation and though no longer in South Australia are still actively involved in conservation. The objectives of that first meeting Karen left with NOSSA and continues to this day, albeit with changes to adapt to current issues and thinking.