For the final meeting of the year we chose the best of the 2016 monthly winners of the picture competition.
Here in Australia we are fortunate to have such a variety of orchids. They may not be as big and showy as some of the overseas orchids but the diversity of shapes fires the imagination as reflected in this year’s monthly winners, when put together. The common names of the winners – spider, leopard, flying duck, cowslip, zebra, helmet, bluebeard and greenhood – reinforce this theme of diversity.
Patterns and colours contribute to the variety of our orchids. Australian orchid colours run the gamut of the rainbow and more, with Australia being home to most of the naturally occurring blue orchids in the world. This colour fascinates and allures people around the world so much so that nurseries will dye a white orchid blue because it will sell. There is even a website devoted to the colour called, not surprisingly, Blue Orchid and the popular band master Glenn Miller wrote a song titled Blue Orchids (1944).
Could this be why the very clear winner for the year was Claire Chesson’s Pheladenia deformis common name Bluebeard or Blue Fairy?
Claire Chesson on your most beautiful picture.
Claire won the August competition.
As a reminder, below are the other winners for the year. Click on the image to see the related articles.
February 2016 Photographer: Pauline Meyers
March 2016 Photographer: Judy Sara
April 2016 Photographer: Claire Chesson
May 2016 Photographer: Pauline Meyers
2016 June Photographer: Ros Miller
2016 July Photographer: Robert Lawrence
2016 September Photographer: Bevin Scholz
2016 October Photographer: Helen Lawrence
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.
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.
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
Orchids are found in a wide range of habitats. One such habitat is the littoral zone or more simply the seaside. The following information is taken from the NOSSA’s CD/DVD South Australia’s Native Orchids 2011.
The Littoral Zone
Many orchid species have a linear distribution following the coastline. Here on the leeward side of sandhills the air is usually moist and mild, few frosts occur so close to the sea and sea-fogs in winter will cause water to drip into the sand which easily soaks up both the moisture and the extra nutrients provided by sea-spray. Some of the best known coastal orchids include the gnats Cyrtostylis robusta, pink fairies Caladenia latifolia, coast onion-orchids, Microtis arenaria and coastal helmet orchids Corysanthes expansa as well as C. despectans. All of these are colony forming species, mostly because the windblown sand would soon cover ‘single plant’ species which start to appear after the second line of dunes.
Coastal species can be a few kilometres from the sea but there are several that grow either at the high tide mark, within sight or sound of the sea or in coastal dunes. Apart from the ones already mentioned above, the following are some others that can potentially be found within sight and sound of the sea.
- Acianthus pusillus (Mosquito Orchid)
- Arachnorchis cardiochila (Thick Lipped Spider Orchid)
- Arachnorchis fragrantissima (Scented Spider Orchid)
- Arachnorchis fuliginosa (Coastal Spider Orchid)
- Arachnorchis sp Brown Bayonets (Port Lincoln Spider Orchid)
- Bunochilus flavovirens (Coastal Banded Greenhood)
- Bunochilus littoralis (Lake Saint Clair Banded Greenhood)
- Caladenia sp Selfing Coastal Dunes (Little Dune Fingers)
- Corunastylis nigricans (Port Lincoln Midge Orchid)
- Diuris orientis (Wallflower Orchid or Bulldogs)
- Diplodium erythroconchum (Red shell Orchid)
- Glossodia major (Waxlip or Purple Cockatoo Orchid)
- Leptoceras menziesii (Hare Orchid, Rabbit Ears)
- Prasophyllum elatum (Tall Leek Orchid)
- Prasophyllum litorale (Vivid Leek Orchid)
- Prasophyllum sp Late Coastal Dunes
- Pterostylis cucullata (Leafy Greenhood)
- Pterostylis curta (Blunt Greenhood)
- Thelymitra antennifera (Rabbit Ears; Lemon Sun Orchid)
Unfortunately, where there has been settlement, it is now unusual to find these species so close to the sea.