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)

 

 

July 2016 Winning Picture

1607 sm RWL Corysanthes diemenicus.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you to Greg Steenbeeke for checking this article.

Reference:

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

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

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

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

Steenbeeke, G, personal communications

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

June 2016 Winning Picture

1606 sm RM Caladenia cairnsiana

It is always good to see other members submitting images for the competition. This month Rob Soergel entered Urochilus sanguineus growing with Bunochilus viriosus and Ros Miller a Caladenia cairnsiana. Others were Rob and Jenny Pauley’s mass flowering of short Urochilus sanguineus, Pauline Meyers’ Arachnorchis cardiochila hybrid (possibly with A. strigosa) and Lorraine Badger’s Diuris corymbosa.

The winning picture taken by Ros Miller C. cairnsiana (Zebra Orchid) is one of Western Australia’s unique and interesting orchids. It was first collected by Baron Von Mueller (Victorian Government Botanist 1857–1873) from the Stirling Ranges and subsequently named in 1869 after the Rev Adam Cairns a Melbourne Presbyterian minister who promoted “various philanthropic studies”. In the 2000’s various synonyms were applied to the name, most notably Jonesiopsis cairnsiana (2003).

Many of the distinctive features of this species are readily seen in Ros’ picture – the non-clubbed, equidimensional short lateral sepals and petals which are hard pressed up against the ovary; the smooth, upswept labellum. What is not seen is the leaf which is erect large pale green with the bottom third usually irregularly blotched with red-purple.

Flowering from August to November, occasionally in clumps, these orchids are distributed over an extensive geographic area from Lancelin approximately 130 km north east of Perth, to Israelite Bay near Esperance some 775 km south east. They grow in a range of habitats from forests, woodlands, to mallee heathlands.

Interestingly for such a widespread and colourful flower, they are often missed being seen as they are ‘small and hard to see’.

References

Brown, A., et al,(2013) Field Guide to the Orchids of Western Australia. Perth, WA: Simon Neville Publications

Hanson, Kim (2016) WANOSCG Facebook conversation July 2016 https://www.facebook.com/groups/377740182396565/

http://www.orchidspecies.com/caladcairnsiana.htm accessed July 6 2016

http://members.iinet.net.au/~emntee/HISTORY_OF_ORCHID_COLLECTING.htm accessed July 6 2016

Archer, W http://esperancewildflowers.blogspot.com.au/2009/09/zebra-orchid-caladenia-cairnsiana.htm acc 12 July 2016

May 2016 Winning Picture

1605 sm PM Caladenia flava

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.

References:

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.

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.

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

Part One covered hints for photographing orchids so as to be able to identify the plant.  Part Two gives an example with Cyrtostylis robusta (Winter Gnat Orchid) and C. reniformis (Small Gnat Orchid).

Although the flowering times are different – C reniformis is spring flowering and C. robusta is winter flowering – there is a slight overlap in August when it is possible for both to be flowering at the same time and in the same place.

The flowers are very similar but major difference between the two species is the leaf.  Both leaves are roughly kidney shape but C. robusta is pale green with pale , almost undistinguished veins, silvery underneath whilst  C. reniformis is heavily veined, blue-green above and green below.

Cyrtostylis reniformis (4)
C. reniformis, easily identified by the leaf, even when in bud.

The other differences are more subtle.

  • C. reniformis has dark buds and the apex of the labellum tends to be rounded rather than pointed
  • C. robusta has pale reddish buds and larger flowers, labellum crenulated (slightly wavy) and a fine point at the apex.
Cyrtostylis reniformis
C. reniformis – This is not a good identification picture because though the leaf is present, it is too blurry for identifying the species and the angle of the flower obscures the labellum  details

Consequently, it is important that photographs of the flowers clearly show the labellum – pointed labellum apex for C. robusta compared with the rounded labellum tip of C. reniformis.

 

Cyrtostylis robusta
In this photograph it is possible to identify the plants as C. robusta because of the leaves even though there are no clear views of the labellum.

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

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

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

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

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

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

General Guide

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

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

Other helpful things to consider photographing are:

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

Importance of Size

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

Some Specific Identifying Features

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

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

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

 

Spider Orchid
Spider Orchid Photo: Robert Lawrence

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

Atypical Cyrtostylis leaves

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

THE DUCKS – TAKING A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE PART TWO of TWO

In Part One, Leo Davis’ first article centred on the Large Flying Duck, this second part is about the lesser known Little Duck.

TAKING A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE 2 (The Small Flying Duck Orchid)

There are at least three speceis of flying duck orchids in SA, one in genus Caleana and two others having been moved from there to genus Paracaleana.

My favourite, of the two duck orchids that most of us see, is the small duck orchid (Paracaleana minor).  It is actually rarer than the more popular species, can bear six or more flowers on a spike, and has a more delicate and quirky charm, to my eye. 

As with the large flying duck the usual angle of photographing the smaller species is to emphasise the ‘flying’ nature.  But again there is other detail to see and to be illustrated from other view-points.

The accompanying image of the little duck flower, viewed from the front, shows variations on the same structures shown previously in the large duck orchid.  Down at the bottom of the flower is the sticky stigma (♀ part), not white this time, and immediately below is the triangular yellow pollinium packet (♂ part).  Again both structures sit in the bowl shaped column.

Paracalean minor arrows copy
Paracalean minor (Little Flying Duck Orchid)

Note the three part symmetry of the pollinium, with a distinctive Mercedes Benz logo (or Mitsubishi if your budget only stretches that far) to tease us.

The location of the female (♀) and male (♂) organs, adjacent to each other, fused to form a column, is one of the main distinguishing characteristic features of the orchid family.

As an afterword let me remind you that the little duck (like the larger, collected in Sydney in 1803) started out as Caleana minor but was moved to a new genus, leaving the large duck as the only member of its genus.  Rules of nomenclature mean that the small duck had to keep its specific name (minor), hence we now have Paracaleana minor but there is no, and never will be, Paracaleana major.  But Caleana minor still appears in publications and some folks may still use that name.

Some of you choose to use different scientific names to some that others use. Recently some of us bought a propagation pack that Les Nesbitt produced, to grow the maroon banded greenhood (Pterostylis sanguinea.) In the unlikely event that my pack produces seedlings I will label them Urochilus sanguineus.  And we can both justify our choice.  And then, of course, some taxonomist could move the little duck back to its original genus one day. 

Then, of course, there is the added complication that David Jones (Native Orchids of Australia Including the Island Territories. 2006, p148) calls the species Sullivania minor!

Leo Davis

The Ducks – Taking A Different Perspective Part One of Two

Leo Davis is an orchid enthusiast with an eye for detail.  Everyone seems to be aware of and gets excited over the flower of the large flying duck orchid but in the article below, Leo takes a look at a more significant event – the rare fruiting of the duck in South Australia.

TAKING A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE 1(The Large Flying Duck Orchid)
Leo Davis

When approaching an iconic orchid like a flying duck orchid the obvious imperative is to emphasise the flying duck image. But as much fun as that can be, we can find and record some other significant aspects of this species.  Do remember to look at all orchid flowers, with or without your camera, from different directions. And don’t forget the leaves.

In the last flowering season at Knott Hill NFR (Oct-Dec 2015) I photographed a double flowered large flying duck (Caleana major) on November 14.  At the bottom of the upper left hand side flower you can see a white stigma (♀ part), sitting at the base of the bowl shaped column. The sticky surface of the stigma is ready to trap a pollinium (a sack of pollen grains), if the correct pollinator arrives, with a pollinium attached. Immediately below is a three lobed the triangular yellow pollinium packet (♂ part), as yet not taken by a pollinator.  The highly sensitive mobile duck shaped labellum, a modified petal, looms above, waiting to slam a visiting insect down onto the pollinium, so attaching it to the back of the insect.

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Caleana major (Flying Duck Orchid) – note the location of the stigma and pollinium

On December 10 I found the same plant, and one adjacent, in FRUIT. This is not often observed in South Australia and it has been suggested that the specific pollinator may be thin on the ground.  I photographed both plants but that of the more advanced plant (shown), with fully withered flowers and plump developing ovaries, interested me more, because it suggested progress towards production of viable seed.

Caleana major fruiting body
Success – Caleana major Fruiting Bodies

I went back on March 9, this year, and was delighted to find and photograph the fruit that had ripened, dried and split, so releasing the dust like seed.  I was prepared for disappointment because the fate of seed pods of many orchid species is to be eaten.  For example for the hyacinth orchid (Dipodiun roseum), across both the 2014-15 and 2015-16 flowering seasons, at Knott Hill, all plants that I found had their seed pods consumed. Kangaroos?

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Dehiscent (splitting of the seed pod to allow dispersal of the seed) Caleana major

Robert Brown established the genus Caleana based upon his description of a specimen of Caleana major (1810).  The type specimen was collected in 1803, at Bennilong Point, the site of the Opera House, so the species is extinct at that site now, of course.