Orchid Basics – A Beginner’s Guide to South Australian Orchid Name Usage

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.

GENUS

ALTERNATE

GENUS NAME

or

SYNONYM

 

COMMON NAME

Acianthus  

Acianthus

Acianthus Mosquito

Acianthus

Nemacianthus Mayfly
Caladenia  

Caladenia

Caladenia Pink Fairy

Caladenia

Arachnorchis Spider

Caladenia

Jonesiopsis Daddy Longlegs

Wispy Spider

Caladenia

Petalochilus Pink Fingers

Caladenia

Pheladenia Bluebeard

Blue Fairy

Caladenia

Stegostyla Gremlin
Caleana  

Caleana

Caleana Duck

Caleana

Paracaleana Little Duck
Calochilus   Bearded

Beardies

Chiloglottis

Chiloglottis

Chiloglottis Bird

Chiloglottis

Myrmechila Ant

Chiloglottis

Simpliglottis Frog
Corybas  

Corybas

Corybas Helmet

Corybas

Corysanthes Helmet

Corybas

Anyzbas Pelican
Genoplesium Corunastylis Midge
Cryptostylis   Tongue

Moose

Cyrtostylis   Gnat
Dipodium   Hyacinth
Diuris   Donkey
Eriochilus   Parson’s Bands

Autumn Bunnies

Gastrodia   Potato

Cinnamon Bells

Glossodia   Purple Cockatoo

Waxlip

Leporella   Fringed Hare
Leptoceras   Rabbit Ears

Hare Orchid

Microtis  

Microtis

Microtis Onion

Microtis

Hydrorchis Mignonette

Microtis

Microtidium Yellow Onion
Orthoceras   Horned

Crucifix

Prasophyllum   Leek
Pterostylis    

Pterostylis

Pterostylis Greenhood

Pterostylis

Bunochilus Banded Greenhood

Pterostylis

Diplodium Shell

Pterostylis

Hymenochilus Tiny Shell

Pterostylis

Linguella Little Greenhoods

Nana

Pterostylis

Oligochaetochilus Rufoushoods

Pterostylis

Plumatochilos Bearded Greenhood

Pterostylis

Speculantha Tiny Greenhood

Pterostylis

Taurantha Cobra Greenhood

Pterostylis

Urochilus Maroonbanded Greenhood

Sanguinea

Blood Greenhood

Pyrorchis   Fire

Undertaker

Spiranthes   Ladies Tresses

Spiral

Thelymitra   Sun Orchid

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.

1609-sm-bs-pterostylis-cucullata
Pterostylis cucullata

This one is a Shell Orchid or alternately Diplodium

Diplodium dolichochilum
Diplodium dolichochilum

Whilst this Pterostylis is a Bearded Greenhood or Plumatochilos

09 sm JMcP Plumatochilus sp Woodlands
Plumatichilos sp Woodland Bearded Greenhood

The final Pterostylis example is a Rufoushood, or Oligochaetochilus

Oligochaetochilus arenicolaHL
Typical of the Rufoushood this Oligochaetochilus arenicola shows the sencesing leaves, pendent petals and hairs on the labellum. Photographer: H Lawrence

So they could all be referred to Pterostylis or any of the other possible names whether the common name or a synonym.

When do orchids flower?

This is one of the most commonly asked question.

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.

 

chart-south-australian-flowering-times

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 here for 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.

sa-regions-flowering-times-copy

 

Orchid Seed Conservation

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.

2016 October Winning Picture

 

Quite a few pictures were entered this month.

Ricky Egel’s Thelymitra x irregularis, 1610-re-sm-thelymitra-x-irregularis

Pauline Myer’s Caladenia falcata and Caladenia carinsiana; 1610-pm-sm-caladenia-falcata

1610-pm-sm-caladenia-cairnsiana

Margaret Lee’s Diuris orientis and Nemacianthus caudatus;

1610-ml-sm-diuris-orientis

1610-ml-sm-nemacianthus-caudatus

Judy Sara’s Arachnorchis tensa;

1610 JS A4 Arachnorchis tensa.jpg

Greg Sara’s Arachnorchis stricta which had an unusual green coloured flower;

1610-gs-sm-arachnorchis-stricta

and Helen Lawrence’s Arachnorchis argocalla.

1610-hl-sm-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

Reference:

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

Introgression https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Introgression Accessed 4 November 2016

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

Jones, David L (2006) A complete Guide to Native Orchids of Australia, Frenchs Forest, NSW: Reed New Holland

Backhouse, G (2011) Spider-orchids the Genus Caladenia and its Relatives in Australia

 

NB: November Competition will be judging the monthly winners from this year.

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)

 

 

Hands On Conservation – Getting into Conservation at the Ground Level

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.

montage-weeding
 The orchids are first marked with tags as they can be difficult to see whilst weeding but afterwards they can be clearly seen.

 

August 2016 Winning Picture

1608 sm CC Pheladenia deformis.jpg

This month’s entries are an interesting collection as it is probably the first time that all entries are currently in flower.  Rosalie Lawrence entered a Pterostylis pedunculata, Ricky Egel (second) Corysanthes despectans, Robert Lawrence (third) Pyrorchis nigricans whilst both Rob Soergel and Claire Chesson (winner) entered Pheladenia deformis. All four are colony forming species.

Both parts of the scientific name for the winning orchid refer to the labellum. Pheladenia meaning false glands which is referring to the calli and deformis meaning departing from the correct shape or mis-shapen.

The labellum plays an important role in pollination; it is the landing platform for the insect. Depending on the process by which the flower is pollinated – or at least attracting the pollinator – this can attempt to mate with the labellum which it has confused for a female of its species (pseudocopulation), or can then feed on the nectar produce. Like many orchids Pheladenia does not produce nectar so the actual attractant for the insect is hard to determine.

The labellum is a distinctive feature of orchids.  A modified petal, they are so amazingly varied and complex that botanists often provided detailed descriptions of the features which are present in various combinations, as a means of describing the species. Terms such as lobes, margins, gland/calli, hairs/vestiture/setae, longitudinal ridges, plates, auricles, spurs, papillae etc are used to describe the various features of the labellum.

Some of the features of the labellum of P. deformis are:

  • It is stiffly attached to the column, unlike Arachnorchis tentaculata which is hinged and freely moving
  • It is tri-lobed meaning that the labellum shape is divided into three distinct sections.
    • Unlike Diuris pardina where this feature is easily seen, it is obscured as the outer two lobes are erect and curved in so that it forms a trumpet like appearance with the column.
  • The margins or edges of the labellum have fine teeth which are slightly curved inward. The margins of Arachnorchis cardiochila are smooth-edged and curve outward from the ‘throat’ of the labellum
  • It has two types of calli, fleshy, non-secreting glands.
    • The ones at the base are not as easily seen but they are described as being papillae, e., small, irregular, pimple-like projections or bumps.
    • The more obvious ones that give the flower its bearded appearance are elongate and without a swollen head, like the bristles on a brush.
    • In contrast, Thelymitra does not have any type of calli, although it should be noted that calli do play an important role in orchid pollination.
  • The apex, tip of the labellum, is curved under (recurved to reflexed)

To see some of the variety of labella, Orchids of South Australia (Bates and Weber, 1990) have several drawings detailing the differences on pages 35 to 38, 81, 97, 104 to 106, 114, 119 to 124.

So why spend time looking at details of labella?

It is not important for identifying Pheladenia deformis but it can be a distinguishing feature for other species, for example, the lateral lobes of Diuris maculata are much narrower than D. pardina (Jones, in Harden (ed.) 1993); or the shape of the callus cluster on Chiloglottis which alludes to the species.

 

Reference:

Bates, R.J & Weber, J.Z. (1990) Orchids of South Australia, Government Printer, Adelaide

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

Jones DL (1993). Diuris in Harden GJ Flora of New South Wales, Volume 4. University of NSW Press, Sydney.

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

Thank you to Greg Steenbeeke for assistance with this article.

Half Hiding, Half Peeping the Orchids Appear, …

Spring has come and the bush is bursting with colour and many people are out enjoying it.  One of the gems that provide some of this colour are the orchids but as is highlighted in the following poem they are often overlooked yet without them and the other delicate herbaceous flowers the bush will look grey and gloomy.  So slow down, take a closer look and enjoy the hidden many coloured jewels of the bush.

 

Stay on the Path

Do they say that the bush is all greyness and gloom

Why, the rainbow has lent every thread from his loom

To weave into flower and shrub!

Diuris x palachila
Diuris x palachila (Hybrid Doubletails or Broad Lip Orchid)

There are star-flowers blue as the deep winter sky,

Here are “Grandmothers Honeycups”, humble and shy;

And the purple of hovea bloom.

Leptoceras menziesii in patch
Leptoceras menziesii, Hare Orchid or Rabbit Ears

Half hiding, half peeping, the orchids appear,

The friendly and cheerful red runner creeps near –

Say, where are the greyness and glooom.

Which is which
Thelymitra or Sun Orchids

Lilian Wooster Greaves

from West Australian Orchids by Emily H Pelloe, 1930

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

Orchids the Flagship Plant Group: How Do We Protect Them?

This week’s post is taken from the IUCN SSC Orchid Specialist Group Facebook post concerning Resolution decided upon at the final session of the International Orchid Conservation Congress Conference, held in May 2016 at the Kadoorie Farm & Botanic Garden, Hong Kong

It was posted by Michael Fay of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.  He is also the Chair of the IUCN SSC Orchid Specialist Group.  According to their website, “The Orchid Specialist Group is a global network of experts who volunteer their time and expertise to build a scientific and practical foundation for the conservation of orchids (Orchidaceae).”

(A list of the meanings of acronyms appears at the end of this post.)

Michael’s post follows

Here are the Resolutions from the final session of IOCC VI in Hong Kong:

03 KK sm Sarcochilus falcatus Mt Banda Banda

Orchids are a flagship plant group with a high profile in human culture. They are known from all vegetated continents on earth but their occurrence reflects patterns in the global distribution of biodiversity and their intricate ecological associations, particularly with pollinators and mycorrhizal fungi, reflect sensitive ecosystem processes. Accordingly, orchids are indicators of ecosystem and climate health. Many orchids and their associated biota have been exposed to a variety of threats as a direct consequence of human-driven global change, with almost half of the ca. 27,000 known species now potentially at risk of extinction. Delegates of the IOCC support all efforts to research and mitigate these threats and secure environments on which orchids depend, and are committed to achieving meaningful conservation by recommending that:

  1. The creation of orchid enhanced habitats is a priority for ecological restoration.
  2. Enhanced in situ orchid protection requires the creation of orchid reserves. These will benefit a wide array of other species and biological communities and can be financed through various public and private sources.
  3. The international and domestic wild plant trade is widely recognised by governments and civil society as a major threat to the persistence of many orchid species, and that its curtailment requires concerted government action and enforcement.
  4. The propagation and cultivation of threatened orchids by small and local orchid enterprises should be supported for the sustainable production of orchids used in horticulture, medicine and food.
  5. Orchid cultivation should be licensed and audited by government or other government-approved body through a national (or international) accreditation scheme that specifies adequate safeguards to ensure best practice. Propagated orchids should be traceable and distinguishable from wild orchids so as to minimise the risk of laundering wild plants.
  6. National, regional and international networks should be established and strengthened for promoting in situ and ex situ orchid conservation.
  7. The next generation of orchid taxonomists, ecologists and conservationists is nurtured through improved training, education, publicity and awareness-raising programmes.

    Paracaleana minor 123DM
    Paracaleana minor (Little Duck Orchid) Photo: David Manglesdorf
  8. Members shall strengthen the work of OSG by:
  • Facilitating and conducting national and global Red Listing of orchids, and contributing to the Sampled Red List Index (SRLI);
  • Monitoring and reporting on the illegal trade in orchids to national enforcement agencies and to TRAFFIC;
  • Reviving Orchid Conservation International as a vehicle for web-based education and channelling funding to orchid conservation programmes, along the lines of Birdlife International;
  • Embracing social media and other web-based interactive tools as dynamic and effective means of stimulating communication, raising awareness and building networks;
  • Using citizen science as an effective means of motivating individuals and amateur groups to record orchid occurrence (e.g. OrchidMap, iNaturalist) and help scale-up the collection of verifiable data;
  • Establishing and maintaining a global database of orchid reintroductions (including both successes and failures) and ex situ orchid collections that can be accessed and updated by members and which is linked to the IUCN Reintroduction Specialist Group;
  • Creating new sub-groups focusing on trade and molecular identification, to reflect important cross-cutting themes and challenges.

Thanks to Stephan Gale and Phil Cribb for producing the final version of these.

Bearded Orchid
Calochilus cupreus (Bearded Orchid)  Photo: Helen Lawrence

IOCC VI refers to the International Orchid Conservation Congress Conference was held in May 2016 at the Kadoorie Farm & Botanic Garden, Hong Kong

IUCN: International Union for Conservation of Nature

OSG: Orchid Specialist Groups

SSC: Species Survival Commission

TRAFFIC: Trade Records Analysis of Flora and Fauna in Commerce

Orchid Specialist Group Website: http://www.iucn.org/species/ssc-specialist-groups/about/ssc-specialist-groups-and-red-list-authorities-directory-7

Caladenia procera