This month’s theme of “more than six flowers” was interpreted in one of two ways. There were six entries that had six or more plants and the other six entries had six or more flowers, predominately the flowers being on one inflorescence.
The competition was tight with Jane Higgs’ Caladenia tentaculata (syn. Arachnorchis tentaculata) winning by one vote. In South Australia it is known as the King Spider Orchid or Large Green Combed Spider and in Victoria is named the Eastern Mantis Orchid. As it is the largest of the Green Combed Spider Orchids, it is easily identified by its size. But there is variation and sometimes there are patches of small sized plants.
This happened to Rudie Kuiter on one of his orchid forays when he came across of patch of C. parva and small sized C. tentaculata growing together. In his book Orchid Pollinators of Victoria (page 29), he records how he distinguished the differences between the two species – “Except for some minor differences in the labellum they looked much the same. In C. tentaculata the upper margin teeth are longest, whilst in C. parva the central ones are longest. Labellum calli usually run into the red tip on C. parva and just short of the red in C. tentaculata, ...”
Though I could not find these details recorded in any of the field guides I consulted, the differences were obvious when comparing the images of C. parva and C. tentaculata on the Retired Aussies website, www.retiredaussies.com
Kuiter, R. H., Orchid Pollinators of Victoria, Fourth Edition. Aquatic Photographics
Natural hybrids are both fascinating and challenging. Fascinating because they don’t occur readily, (although of all the plant families, orchids have one of the greatest propensity for hybridising). Challenging because of the difficulty in determining the parents unlike the manmade hybrids where we can track which parents are being used to make the hybrid.
Obviously, the hybrid will share characteristics of both parents and this is the case of this month’s winning photograph, John Fennell’s Thelymitra x truncata. In the South Australian setting, a spotted orchid hybrid suggests that one of the parents will always be T. ixiodes/juncifolia and because it is blue it is most likely that the other parent will also be blue, from either the T. pauciflora or T. nuda complexes. This is true also for T. x merraniae. This is because there is no naturally occurring blue pigment. Whereas a pink or yellow parent and a blue parent will not produce a blue hybrid. Consider T. x chasmogama, T. x irregularis, T. x macmillanii are never blue.
Finally, it is fitting that this should be the winning photograph as this is the centenary month (September 2017) of its presentation to the Royal Society of South Australia, by Dr R S Rogers who also named this hybrid. The other hybrids entered were Jane Higgs Caladenia Harlequin and Diuris Earwig, both cultivated plants; Pauline Meyers Caladenia falcata X Drakonorchis barbarossa; John Fennell’s Caladenia x idiastes, T. x irregularis; Rickey Egels T. x macmillanii along with Lorraine Badger’s Caladenia roei hybrid and Caladenia x ericsoniae.
Steve Howard writes cultural notes for Adelaide conditions. These are his notes for August; for both epiphytes and terrestrials.
Pots weekly. Small pots twice weekly depending on weather. Drier conditions for hot cold types. Terrestrial pots can dry out faster on warmer days so keep a watch on conditions.
Epiphytes: Recommending feeding towards months end as days lengthen. Many plants in strong spike growth and flowering now.
Terrestrials generally don’t need to be fed although weak organics like Seasol and Powerfeed applied in low doses can benefit colony type greenhoods.
PESTS AND DISEASES
Epiphytes: Botrytis will rot new buds in cold damp weather as fast as it attacks new growths from now. Aphids will increase sharply this month and favour new growth and spikes. Pyrethrum sprays eco friendly and work well, so does a hose but dry spike straight after.
Some terrestrials will rot this month if conditions have been too wet or stagnant over winter. Note this for next season and add more drainage if this has been an issue.
Epiphytes: Keep flowering plants under cover to enjoy. Soon will be the time to start thinking about re-potting and division as spring nears.
Keep flowering terrestrials out of strong winds and heavy rains as flower stems on some varieties are quite weak when grown in cultivation
Later August will produce some warmer drying days as spring nears. Ensure small pots and plants don’t dry out at this time. Good time to check out seedling lists and prepare orders to ensure your plants arrive at the commencement of a new growing season.
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.
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).
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
For the novice or beginner, orchid names can be a bit overwhelming. To add to their confusion, the more knowledgeable people tend to use abbreviated terms often switching between common and botanical names & their synonyms.
This week’s post will be a brief introduction to the most common names used for the South Australian orchids and how they relate to each other. It will not be comprehensive and it will not be a detailed discussion of orchid nomenclature but hopefully it might help the novice learn some of the names in current use.
In the past attempts have been made to split some genera. Not everyone has agreed with the splits but there are many who find it more convenient to use the alternate genus when working in the field. This tends to be the case with the larger genera such as Caladenia, Corybas and Pterostylis. Unfortunately, this has contributed to the confusion.
The names in this list are compiled from South Australia’s Native Orchids 2011 DVD. Even with this list the use of the names varies quite a bit with some being used rarely. Rather than considering each individual species, the list is centred around the genus name.
A detailed list of SA orchid species names and their synonyms can be found here .
The following are all Pterostylis but not all of them are Greenhoods. This first image is a Pterostylis Greenhood.
This one is a Shell Orchid or alternately Diplodium
Whilst this Pterostylis is a Bearded Greenhood or Plumatochilos
The final Pterostylis example is a Rufoushood, or Oligochaetochilus
So they could all be referred to Pterostylis or any of the other possible names whether the common name or a synonym.
The short answer is that in South Australia there will be potentially an orchid flowering somewhere in any month of the year but the caveat is that in certain months specifically December, January, February, and March it is very difficult to find any as there are only a few flowering species and most of them are restricted to localised/sensitive sites. The flowering times for the highest number of species occur in winter and spring with October being the most prolific month for flowering.
To see how this varies across the state for the individual regions see the charts below.
Another is question “Will I find orchids when I visit a particular park on a particular day?” is not such an easy question to answer because it DEPENDS on so many different factors.
The timing of the rains affects the flowering time, for instance, Autumn orchids appear about 6 – 8 weeks after the first autumn rains. Normally the South East is the best place but this year the lower South East did not have a good flowering due to the storms and associated cold with the wet conditions.
Pollination affects the likelihood of finding flowers. Flowers remain open until pollination occurs. If the pollination is delayed the flower will be on display for a longer time until it runs out of energy and naturally shrivels up. To illustrate this NOSSA visited Scott Creek Conservation Park one day and there was a beautiful display of sun orchids along with several spider orchids but on a visit to the same site one week later, there were hardly any flowers left. Many had been pollinated as was evidenced by the swollen capsules.
So as a rough guide click here for the species flowering times of South Australian Orchids and herefor month by month information. This data is based upon information found in the 2011 South Australia’s Native Orchids disk.
For detailed information, it is necessary to consult with someone who knows the orchids in the area but it may not always be easy to find such a person. In which case, contact NOSSA and we may be able to, through our network, find someone to help.
There are many different activities involved with orchid conservation. In situ conservation consists of looking after the orchids where they are growing; maintaining and protection of habitats and ecological systems. On the other hand ex situ conservation is caring for the orchids in cultivation in a similar way that zoos maintain an animals species that is extinct in the wild.
For the orchids one form of ex situ conservation is via seed collection and the propagation of new plants. With many of our terrestrial orchids this is not an easy task but here in South Australia an attempt is being made with four of our endangered orchids.
Unlike some of our terrestrial orchids these are ones which we have not been able to grow. There is a collaborative effort co-ordinated through the South Australian Seed Conservation Centre (Seedbank) to change this. Amongst the people helping the Seedbank are members of the Native Orchid Society of South Australia, students from Kildare College and Dr Noushka Reiter of the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne.
On July 30 2016, Dan Duval of the Seedbank was interviewed by Jon Lamb on Ashley Walsh’s ABC 891 Adelaide Talkback Gardening program. It is an informative interview and well worth the listen.
For more information on the work of the Seedbank, visit their website
Video as heard on Talkback Gardening with Jon Lamb and Ashley Walsh – Saturdays from 8.30 on 891 ABC Adelaide.
Pauline Myer’s Caladenia falcata and Caladenia carinsiana;
Margaret Lee’s Diuris orientis and Nemacianthus caudatus;
Judy Sara’s Arachnorchis tensa;
Greg Sara’s Arachnorchis stricta which had an unusual green coloured flower;
and Helen Lawrence’s Arachnorchis argocalla.
Helen’s picture of the nationally endangered A. argocalla was the outstanding winner. Now known as the White Beauty Spider Orchid^, it was featured last year as a winner with Pauline Meyer’s June 2015 entry*.
This is one of our largest spider orchids. For size, beauty and delicacy it rivals the Western Australian Caladenia longicauda ssp. eminens (White Stark Spider Orchid) and A. venusta, syn. Caladenia venusta (Graceful Spider Orchid) from Victoria and the South East.
It shares many similarities with these two species in that they are reasonably good size white flowers with a stiffly hinged labellum that has long, thin teeth and the segments have threadlike tips without clubs. It is separated both geographically and in the type of habitat from these two species. A. argocalla is a plant of the inland hills and valleys.
Though primarily a white flower and part of the A. patersonii complex, A. argocalla has red colouring in the labellum which according to Backhouse may possibly indicate genetic introgression (that is long term mixing of the gene pool) with either the A. reticulata or A. leptochila complexes. Certainly, the colour of the labellum was quite variable ranging from white through to a deep red.
^Previously known as Common White Spider Orchid because of its abundance but now only known to a limited number of locations.
*NOSSA Journal, July 2015
Department of the Environment (2016). Caladenia argocalla in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Thu, 3 Nov 2016 16:31:39 +1100
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
General Orchid Knowledge
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.
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.
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.
Conservation of orchids takes many forms, one of which is weeding. NOSSA members often assist the Threaten Plant Action Group in this area. There are several sites where significant orchids are under threat from invasive weeds; and over the years, through consistent weeding, the weed front has been pushed back allowing the orchids an opportunity to recover and even increase in numbers. It is an ongoing task but seeing the orchids recover makes it an encouraging task BUT …
This activity is heavily reliant upon volunteers. And those who regularly volunteer deserve a big thank you from the community. BUT ….
More helpers are always needed. If you are interested in seeing the orchids, consider joining one of the weeding activities that are held throughout the year (these are advertised on this website). Often the weeding activities target a specific weed, so it is great for a beginner who does not have an in-depth knowledge of plants.