So what do they look like? Amazingly Johann Georg Beer (1803 – 1873), an Austro-Hungarian orchidologist and explorer published in 1863 Beitra ¨ge zur Morphologie und Biologie der Familie der Orchideen. In it, Beer had produced in exquisite detail illustrations of orchid seeds. Beer was not the first to draw orchid seeds but his “drawings are morphologically accurate and artistically magnificent. Beer’s artistic ability, patience, and botanical expertise are obvious. His are probably the first detailed colour renditions of orchid seeds and seedlings to be published.”*
*Arditti, J, 2008, An history of orchid hybridization, seed germination and tissue culture, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society June 2008
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.
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.
There were four entries this month with two from Western Australia Pauline Meyers’s Caladenia flava and Ros Miller’s Caladenia longicauda sbsp. eminens; one local Greg Sara’s Pheladenia deformis; and one from the Australian Capital Territory, Lorraine Badger’s Cyanicula caerulea. The winner was the Caladenia flava.
If I was to think of an orchid that represents Western Australia it would be hard to choose between the Queen of Sheba and this one.
With its long flowering season (July to December) it is Western Australia’s most common and widespread species; being found in the south west triangle of the state from Kalbarii to Israelite Bay; in habitat as variable as the coastal heathlands through to inland rocky outcrops; from forests to swamp margins. Being so prevalent, it is not surprising that it was amongst one of the first Western Australian orchids collected in September to October, 1791 by the ship-surgeon and naturalist, Archibald Menzies. It was subsequently named in 1810 by Scottish botanist Robert Brown.
C. flava is one of the five species belonging to the subgenus Elevatae. The other four being C. marginata, C. nana, C. reptans (all WA endemics) and C. latifolia which is widespread across southern Australia. All five species have the same characteristic feature of the calli joined together on a raised plate near the base of the labellum. C. flava is distinctively and predominately yellow whereas the others are pink or white.
C. flava has two pollinators, native bees which are lured deceitfully to the non-existent nectar and scarab beetles (Neophyllotocus sp.). As they share the same pollinators, C. flava often hybridizes with C. reptans and C. latifolia, producing very colourful offspring.
Observations have led orchidologists to divide C. flava into 3 subspecies. These differences are based upon floral morphology. but curiously they each have their own separate distribution.
Brown A, et al, 2013 Field Guide to the Orchids of Western Australia
Hopper, SD & Brown, AP 2001b Contributions to Western Australian Orchidology: 2, New taxa and circumscriptions in Caladenia (Spider, Fairy and Dragon Orchids of Western Australia), Nuytsia 14:27–314.
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.
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.
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.
[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 Melaleucauncinata 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!!
A medical student who abandoned his medical career just before graduation; he emigrated to Sydney, where he practised as a solicitor, cofounded the Linnean Society of New South Wales, and was appointed honorary secretary of the Australian Library in Bent Street.
The first orchids scientifically named in the Pacific were species in the genus Thelymitra J.R.Forst. & G.Forst., a taxon raised and coined by the Forsters — the irascible Johann Reinhold Forster (1729–1798), and his son Georg Forster (1754–1794), who was 18 years old when they left on Cook’s second voyage of 1772 to 1775. The Forsters collected Thelymitra longifolia in the South Island of New Zealand in 1772 and published the name of the species in 1776. The Forsters described and named nine new species in what they termed the “Class of Orches” in the South Pacific. Georg Forster graduated in medicine in Vilna (now Vilnius, Lithuania) in 1784. Species of Thelymitra, which are known as the Sun Orchids, are found mainly in the south-west of Western Australia.
It should be noted that Thelymitra are found both in the east, central and the west of southern Australia.
In continuing this series of Professor John Pearn, links have been provided for the genera or species mentioned. In this group most of them are from limited locations in Queensland.
Orchids named after medical professionals
Sixteen doctors who practised medicine and/or botany in Australia have their names recorded in the scientific names of 24 indigenous orchids of Australia. In addition, one separate species (Thelymitra flexuosa, also known as Thelymitra smithiana) and five genera of indigenous Australian orchids record the names of European doctors, pharmacologist–pharmacists or herbalists. The five genera are Burnettia Lindl. (described by John Lindley in 1840), a monospecific genus; Cadetia Gaud. (described by Charles Gaudichaud-Beaupré in 1829); Goodyera R.Br. (described by Robert Brown in 1813); Robiquetia Gaud. (described by Charles Gaudichaud-Beaupré in 1829); and Vrydagzynea Blume (described by Carl Ludwig Blume in 1858).
The Lizard Orchid, Burnettia cuneata, blooms in eastern Australia and Tasmania; it commemorates Gilbert Thomas Burnett (1800–1835), surgeon and foundation professor of botany at King’s College London.
In the genus Cadetia(delicate white orchids), four species are named after the apothecary of the French imperial court, Charles-Louis Cadet de Gassicourt (1769–1821) — C. collinsii, C. maideniana, C. taylori and C. wariana. They commemorate his life and works as an apothecary, soldier, scholar, writer, scientist and researcher.
The genus Goodyerais named after the 17th century herbalist John Goodyer (1592–1664).
Robiquetiacommemorates Pierre Jean Robiquet (1780–1840), a French pharmacist, organic chemist, professor and foundation member of the Académie royale de Médecine (1820). He was the first to describe an amino acid (asparagine) (1806), and he characterised caffeine (1821) and discovered codeine (1832).
One species out of the 40 species of the Tonsil Orchids, Vrydagzynea grayi, grows in Australia. A rare orchid of the Daintree rainforest in north Queensland, it commemorates Theodore Daniel Vrydag Zynen (fl. 1850), a Dutch pharmacologist and contemporary of one of the most famous doctor–orchidologists, Karl Ludwig Blume (1796–1862). The Twisted Sun Orchid, Thelymitra flexuosa, commemorates the Norwich physician and friend of Joseph Banks, Sir James Edward Smith (1759–1828). When he was 25 years old, Smith took the decisive action to buy the great Linnean collection of plants, which were in danger of being lost to science following the death of Linnaeus’s son in 1783. Smith bought them when they were offered for sale in 1784. In conjunction with the bishop of Carlisle, he founded the Linnaean Society of London and was its first president. In 1798, he raised the new genus, Diuris, which is one of the first taxa of Pacific orchids to be described. The Lilly Pilly, Syzygium smithii, is another of his six botanical memorials.