Caladenia plicata – April Winning Photograph

Shane Grave’s winning photograph for April was the spring flowering Caladenia plicata which is endemic to the South West of Western Australia.

Caladenia is a very large genus with over 330 species, 39 of these currently unnamed. In addition, there are 58 named subspecies and varieties. Caladenia plicata would belong under the subgenus Calonema or the segregate genus Arachnorchis which, although not generally recognised by State herbaria is commonly accepted by many amateur enthusiasts. Yet even this subdivision is still large with 192 species. As a result, some authors have created further groups/complexes, for example C. dilatata complex, C. longicauda complex, etc. However, according to Andrew Brown, C. plicata doesn’t seem to fit neatly into any of these categories, although David Jones does include it within the clubbed spider orchids.

Various authors consistently refer to the labellum as being unusual. In Fitzgerald’s formal description (1882) he states that the labellum tip is “recurved so as to become plicate and touch the under surface of the disc”. Plicate means to fold. The labellum tip of many other Arachnorchis species are known to curl under but none fold under in the way that this species does. The sharp fold with the spreading horizontal fringed margins (edges) combined with a central band of tall dense calli (wart-like structures) gives a distinctive shape reminiscence of a crab, hence the common name Crab Lipped Spider Orchid. The effect of this is best seen from a front, rather than a side, view.

The very mobile labellum is sufficient to identify this species, but it is also possible to identify when in bud “due to the prominent short osmophores (clubs) on the sepals”. The sepals narrow halfway along to form thick brown clubs and when the flower is open both the lateral sepals and petals are downswept. This is clearly seen in Shane’s photograph.

Finally, for those interested in pollination, it is pollinated by an undescribed male thynnine wasp of the genus Zeleboria. This has been captured on video https://ars.els-cdn.com/content/image/1-s2.0-S0960982217306310-mmc6.mp4

 

Thank you to Andrew Brown for assisting me with this article.

References:

Brown A, et al, Field Guide to the Orchids of Western Australia 2013

Brown A, personal communication

Caladenia accessed 24 May 2019

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

Caladenia plicata Wikipedia accessed 24 May 2019

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

Haiyang Xu et al Complex Sexual Deception in an Orchid Is Achieved by Co-opting Two Independent Biosynthetic Pathways for Pollinator Attraction 2017

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982217306310

Jones DL, A Complete Guide to Native Orchids of Australia including the Island Territories 2006

Jones DL, et al, Australian Orchid Genera CD-ROM 2008 CSIRO accessed 24 May 2019

https://www.anbg.gov.au/cpbr/cd-keys/orchidkey/html/genera/Arachnorchis.htm

Pelloe, EH, West Australian Orchids 1930

http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks04/0400681h.html#page50

Orchids of South-West Australia website

http://chookman.id.au/wp_orchids/?page_id=2424

 

 

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The Grace and Charm of Fitzgerald’s Orchids

Orchids have fascinated people over the generations.  Robert Fitzgerald was one of them.  He had a lasting influence upon Australian orchids.  This extract from the Brisbane Courier Saturday 27 September 1930 Page 20 gives a brief biography of him.  The author of the article is Estelle Thomson.

 

Original article from the Brisbane Courier, Saturday 27 September 1930

Original article from the Brisbane Courier, Saturday 27 September 1930

Great Australian Botanists

III. – R. D. FITZGERALD

In 1830 Robert Desmond Fitzgerald was born at Tralee, in Ireland.  When he was a young man of about 26 he came to Sydney and entered the surveyor-General’s office as a draughtsman; he became Deputy Surveyor-General, and held that post till he retired in 1887 to devote the rest of his life to his great work, the study of Australian orchids.  He travelled all over the Commonwealth and made innumerable drawings and paintings of orchids.  He drew always from the living plant (rather an exception in his day when the dried specimen was often used, even when fresh plants were available), and his drawings have grace and charm and also an unmistakable individual style.

His work was published in several huge folio volumes, called “Australian Orchids,” and in these he figures and describes over 200 species.  As well as making the original drawing in colour, he made the lithographic plates for a number of the reproductions.

He kept no dried specimens, and so left no herbarium on his death (at Hunter’s Hill, Sydney, in 1892), and this is to be regretted, as he described and named a number of new species, and the type (the original specimen) not being available it is sometimes difficult to determine whether other specimens are true to this type, or variations, or actually different species.

An 1888 reprint of one of his many prints. The species featured are Caleana major (Flying Duck Orchid) and Paracaleana minor (Little Duck Orchid)

An 1888 reprint of one of his many prints. The species featured are Caleana major (Flying Duck Orchid) and Paracaleana minor (Little Duck Orchid)

 

April 2016 Winning Picture Competition

1604 sm CC T benthamaniana

Thelymitra benthamiana; Photographer: Claire Chesson

Five entries were received, again spanning the country from east to west. John Badger entered a Chiloglottis reflexa recently photographed in Tasmania, Pauline Meyers an unidentified Western Australian Spider orchid, Judy Sara had two entries from the latest field trip, Eriochilus collinus (previously phrase name Adelaide Hills) and Leporella fimbriata and Claire Chesson’s Thelymitra benthamiana.

T. benthamiana, the winning picture, is a beautiful sun orchid that is found across the southern Australia from Western Australia through South Australia to Victoria and Flinders Island. More common in west than elsewhere it is the only one of the seven species in the T. fuscolutea complex to be found in the east.

It would appear that this complex has been a problematic as indicated by Jeanes (2006) in his article Resolution of the Thelymitra fuscolutea (Orchidaceae) complex of southern Australia published Muelleria; the Royal Botanic Gardens of Victoria research journal.

Since the early days confusion, which persisted into this millennium, has occurred. In 1871 Reichenbach recognised 3 species one of which was T benthamiana but Bentham after whom the orchid was named disagreed and consider it but a synonym of T. fuscolutea. There were many twists and turns in the names but in effect, for over a hundred years, most authors followed Bentham’s taxonomy rather than Reichenbach’s until 1989 when Mark Clements after studying the drawings, literature and orchid type material came to the same conclusion as Reichenbach that T. benthamiana was a distinct species from T. fuscolutea. Since then, authors have followed Reichenbach/Clements taxonomy.

Over the decades, the number of species in this complex varied considerably. By 1938 three separate species were recognised, but between then and 1989 it fluctuated between recognizing one, three and four species and in 1998 the orchidologist were considering a possible seven species.  These were all confirmed and named in Jeans’ 2006 paper. Today, according to Orchids of Western Australia there is potentially an eighth member in this group.

Jeanes highlights some of the issues involved in determining which species is which. Some of the issues are lack of accurate/detailed information such as location, type of terrain, habitat, surrounding plants, date of collection, etc. Dried specimens by themselves are inadequate as important features may be lost in the drying process.

This complex is but an example of a widespread problem across many of our Australian orchids indicating not only the need for careful observations in the field but meticulous record keeping that others can access.

References

Jeans J A, Resolution of the Thelymitra fuscolutea R. Br. (Orchidaceae) complex of southern Australia. Muelleria 24: 3-24 (2006)

Brown A, et al, Field Guide to the Orchids of Western Australia, 2013

Thank you to Juergen Kellermann, (senior botanist for the State Herbarium) for critiquing this article.

Leptoceras and Leporella – Why are they in different genera?

QUESTION: Are there more than one species called Hare Orchid? This one [Leporella fimbriata] looks different from Leptoceras…?  Why are they in different genera?

 

ANSWER:

Originally they were described the genus Caladenia but as the knowledge information increased other genera were created.  Thus Leporella fimbriata was put into Eriochilus, as Eriochilus fimbriatus (1882), then Leptoceras fimbriata and finally into its own genus Leporella (A S George 1971).  Caladenia menziesii became Leptoceras menziesii.

This does not answer the why of the question which is about classification but Jones (2006) is helpful when he says:

“Plant classification systems rely on interpreting and measuring the features in one group of plants and comparing these with another group, either seeking difference or similarities.  Studies in orchids are usually biased heavily towards features of floral morphology but recent studies have revealed the importance of vegetative features in the roots, stems and leaves.  The most successful classification system is one that is balanced and based on a wide range of vegetative and floral features.”  To add to this list is the molecular studies being done on orchids.

This means the authors advocating change need to clearly show why a name change and/or a new species is warranted.

For instance, Fitzgerald gives the following reason for not including Leporella fimbriata in the Caladenia genus

“Leaves much more frequently observed than flowers.  It is with great reluctance I depart from the naming in ‘Flora Australiensis’ [author Bentham, 1863 – 1878], but I cannot concur with the inclusion of this with Caladenia, and have place it in Lindleys’ Leptoceras for the following reasons: Leaf or leaves not those of Caladenia.  In Caladenia I have never seen more than one leaf, always thin and usually hairy; in this plant leaf thick, hard and shining, occasionally two.  In Caladenia tubers are generally numerous, in L. fimbriata I have only observed one.  The labellum, is without the characteristic glans and is not of the form obtaining in Caladenia, the stigma is very different in form being triangular and deep sunk, the upper parts overhanging, not oval and shallow; and the flowers have the peculiarity of drying and continuing in a state hardly to be distinguished from the fresh flowers long after the seed has been shed.  It approaches C. menziesii only (so far as I can see) in having erect linear-clavate petals, in which C. menziesii is itself peculiar, L. firmbriata seems to come near to Eriochilus than to Caladenia but differs from it again” Quoted from Emily Pelloe Western Australian Orchids 1930

Concerning Leptoceras menziesii, Bates & Weber have made the following statement:

“True Caladenias have hairy scapes and hairy leaves.  (C. menziesii now believed to belong to a separate genus is glabrous)”.

Even though they are not Caladenia, why not have them in the same genus for both have glabous (without hairs) leaves, more leaves than flowers, erect spathulate (spoon shaped) glandular petals, colony forming, similar distribution.

Leporella fimbriata  in patch

Leporella fimbriata – note the absence of leaves and the dry sandy conditions [Photo: R Lawrence]

Leptoceras menziesii in patch

Leptoceras menziesii – note the abundance of leaves [Photo: R Lawrence]

There are similarities.  In fact, Bates (2011) calls them sister genera but despite the similarities there are enough differences to recognise them at genus level at present including “different flowering times, different mycorrhizal fungi associations and different pollination” some of which are detailed in the chart below.

 

Feature Leptoceras Leporella
Pollination Strategy Strategy unknown

Native Bee

Strategy pseudocopulation

Winged male ants (Myrmecia urens)

Myrmecophyte – lives in mutualistic association with colony of ants
Labellum Curved white with red stripes

Has calli

Wider than longer, purple and green

Has no calli

Flowering Time Spring (September to November) Autumn (March to May)
Habitat Shaded sites – moist gullies; scrub, heath, woodland and foret Open sites – acid sands, light scrub, stringybark
Leaf Emergence Leaves emerge before flowering Leaves emerge after flowering

 

Leptoceras menziesii (Rabbit Ears Orchid)

Leptoceras menziesii (Hare Orchid or Rabbit Ears Orchid) after a fire, [Photo: R Lawrence]

REFERENCES:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myrmecophyte accessed May 13 2016

http://www.flora.sa.gov.au/cgi-bin/speciesfacts_display.cgi?form=speciesfacts&name=Leporella_fimbriata accessed May 13 2016

http://www.flora.sa.gov.au/cgi-bin/speciesfacts_display.cgi?form=speciesfacts&name=Caladenia_menziesii accessed May 13 2016

Pelloe E, Western Australian Orchids 1930

Bates R & Weber J, Orchids of South Australia, 1990

Bates R Editor, South Australia’s Native Orchids 2011

Martin A, The Vocabulary of Orchids: an Amateur Perspective 2005

Rogers R, South Australian Orchids 2nd Ed 1911

Jones D, A Complete Guide to Native Orchids of Australia including the Island Territories 2006

2015 April Winning Photograph

04 sm HL Calochilus cupreusDespite having five very different but high quality photographs, Helen Lawrence’s photograph of Calochilus cupreus (Aldinga Bearded Orchid) was the clear winner with the vast majority of votes.

In South Australia it is considered endemic and endangered. Researching it was interesting. For instance, there is no mention of it in Jones extensive book (2006) yet it was named by R S Rogers in 1918 with a description appearing in Black’s Flora of South Australia (1922 edition), including a drawing by Rosa Fiveash. Between then and now there was a shift. In the Third edition of Black’s (1978) C. cupreus is absent but C. campestris present. In Bates and Weber 1990 the authors describe C. campetris (C. cupreus). Currently, the eflora of South Australia (the electronic version of 1986 Flora of South Australia) considers it a synonym of C. campestris. This is reflected in the Census.

It would appear that as C. campestris was studied and its variations documented (e.g. article by Jones 1976 Orchadian 5:83) the distinction with C. cupreus was lost. Clements and Jones (2006) state “Calochilus cupreus R.S.Rogers = Calochilus campestris” which means that they are not using C. cupreus. But in Jones’ book an anomaly occurs – he does not include South Australia in the distribution of C. campestris and as result Bates, from 2008, states that it is not recognized as occurring in South Australia.

Though C. cupreus disappeared from the literature the name still continued to be discussed amongst orchid enthusiasts. So when in 1995 NOSSA members found a distinctively different colony at Aldinga they identified it as Rogers’ C. cupreus.

Below is a chart, based upon Dr Rogers’ description, of some of the differences that made him consider C. cupreus a separate species:

C. cupreus C. campestris C. robertsonii
Shorter leafRather rigid or fleshy erect triangular section

Longer leaf

Crescentic section

Longer leaf Crescentic section
Base of labellum oblong glabrous (without hairs) with several raised longitudinal line Base of labellum round thickened, smooth no raised longitudinal lines Whole of labellum hirsute (hairy)
8 – 15 flowers About 8 flowers maximum About 8 flowers maximum

It will be interesting to watch what happens.

References

Bates personal communications

Bates & Weber (1990) Orchids of South Australia

Bates (2011) NOSSA South Australia’s Native Orchids

Bates (2005 to present) Orchids of South Australia CDs various editions

Clements and Jones An Australian Orchid Name Index (27/4/2006)

https://www.anbg.gov.au/cpbr/cd-keys/orchidkey/html/AustralianOrchidNameIndex.pdf

Jones (2006) A Complete Guide to Native Orchids of Australia

NOSSA Journal Vol 25 No 10 November 2001

Rogers R S Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia V42 (1918) Pages 24, 25

http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/113409#page/40/mode/1up

Remembering Bill Murdoch

On the eve of the  100th anniversary of ANZAC Day, this week’s post is taken from the NOSSA Journal April 2015 Vol. 39 No. 3.   The article is by Lorraine Badger.

William Hugh Murdoch, Anzac Veteran
17 September, 1885 – 24 July 1989

William Hugh Murdoch, known as Bill, was born at Poowong in Victoria’s Gippsland*.  Later in life he became an orchid grower, eventually becoming co-founder of the Australian Native Orchid Society (ANOS), after sending out letters in 1962, suggesting the formation of a Society, to fellow Native Orchid Growers.  

However, it is not for that reason alone, that we remember him in this journal.  This month  is the hundred year anniversary of the first battle of our new country, at Gallipoli.  Following several weeks training in Egypt, William landed at ANZAC Cove with the 17th battalion on 16  August**, just four months after the initial landing.   The battalion was mainly responsible for the defence of Quinn’s Post***. 

Conditions on the  Dardanelles peninsular ‘defy description.’  Water was scarce.  Food rations were limited to mainly bully beef and hard tack biscuits.  ‘The terrain and close fighting did not allow for the dead to be buried.  Flies and other vermin flourished in the heat, which caused epidemic sickness’****.  Under these conditions William, amongst dozens of men, contracted Enteric Fever, better known as Typhoid Fever, just three months after his arrival.  He was sent by hospital ship, SS Nevasa (sic), to Alexandria back in Egypt before being sent to the  Australian hospital in Helios on the outskirts of Cairo and then the Enteric Convalescent Camp in Port Said.

On 21 January 1916 he was declared fit to travel and was repatriated to Australia for three months of rehabilitation, leaving Pt Said on the Suez, via the  MAT Commonwealth.  Almost nine months later he returned to join his battalion, first disembarking in England.  Four days before Christmas Day in 1916, he left the UK to join his battalion which had returned to Etaples, France following a spell in a quieter sector of the front in Belgium following the battalion’s first major battle at Pozières between 25 July and 5 August.  In their new location they manned the front through a very bleak winter and William was again needed hospitalisation on several occasions for frostbite, diarrhoea, being wounded in action and finally Trench Fever a few weeks prior to armistice in 1918. He embarked for Australia in March 1916 reaching Australia in May where he was discharged.

Again when WWII commenced William re-joined the Army and was involved in training and later as ‘Voyage Only Officer’.

Bill Murdoch Trophy
Bill is also remembered by ANOS through the Australia wide, Bill Murdoch Trophy for Champion Australian Native Orchid Species of the Year.  It is not often that a South Australian wins this prestigious award but Kris Kopicki has become the latest recipient for his winning entry, Caladenia discoidea, in the NOSSA 2014 Spring Show.

This picture was taken in 2013, in 2014 it was the winner of the Bill Murdoch Trophy

Caladenia discoidea (Bee Orchid or Dancing Orchid).  This picture was taken of the 2014 winning plant in 2013.  Congratulations Kris for growing a winner!

References

*Birthdate gleaned from: http://www.irabutlertrophy.org/WRMurdoch.htm  However, on his enlistment papers of 2 February 1915 it states that he was  aged  19  years  and  4  months  –  which  would  suggest  he was born about October 1895.

**Taken from his  Army records  in the Australian Archives and
online at http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/

***The 17th Battalion https://www.awm.gov.au/unit/U51457/

****Gallipoli http://www.1914-1918.net/Gallipoli.htm

Australian Orchids & the Doctors they Commemorate Part 18 of 20

Colin Ledward (1903 – 1963)

A general medical practitioner of Cloncurry and Canungra (Queensland); the orchid that bears his name was collected from a single colony discovered in 1934 and is now almost certainly extinct.

Orchid

Acianthus fornicatus (= Acianthus ledwardii)

Australian Orchids & the Doctors they Commemorate Part 17 of 20

Hugo Flecker (1884 – 1957)

A pioneer Australian radiotherapist, radiologist, general medical practitioner and toxicologist of Cairns (Queensland) who dug his own radioactive ore at Radium Hill (South Australia), a medical graduate from the University of Sydney, and a natural historian; his life and works are commemorated by the Flecker Botanic Gardens in Cairns.

Orchids

Cestichis fleckeri (= Liparis fleckeri) Slender Sphinx Orchid

Thelychiton fleckeri (= Dendrobium fleckeri) Apricot Cane Orchid

Australian Orchids & the Doctors They Commemorate Part 16 of 20

Hereward Leighton Kesteven (1881 – 1964)

A general medical practitioner, medical scientist, zoologist, pioneer of industrial medicine in Australia, and national medical director of the Allied Works Council during World War II.

Orchids

Dendrobium kestevenii  is the name applied to the hybrid between D. speciosum subsp. speciosum and D. kingianum

Australian Orchids & the Doctors they Commemorate Part 13 of 20

Thomas Lane Bancroft (1860 – 1933) son and Joseph Bancroft (1836 -1894)  father

Thomas Lane Bancroft is one of Australia’s greatest doctor-naturalists; he elucidated the life cycle of the lungfish, Neoceratodus forsteri

Orchid Species

Sarcochilus dilatatus (= Sacrcochilus bancroftii) Brown Butterfly Orchid