What makes an Orchid and Orchid?

Orchid flowers are extremely variable in appearance, ranging from mimicking spiders, flying ducks, helmets, ants, etc. This variety also can cause some confusion. People have mistaken a different type of flower for an orchid and vis a versa.

This raises the question of what makes an orchid an orchid? With so much variety, how can they possibly belong to the same family?

Using orchids found in the Adelaide Hills, the following video shows three key features that helps identify a flower as an orchid. These three features are found in all orchids worldwide.

So watch and enjoy …

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NOSSA Inaugural Calendar 2019

2019 Calendar Flyer sm amended.jpg

Every month, NOSSA holds a photograph competition. The entries were varied and beautiful but they were only being seen by the members at the meetings, so it was decided to showcase these lovely orchid images in a calendar.

The overall winner from 2018 would be on the front cover and we would select twelve from the fifty-one 2018 entries. The challenge was to select the twelve. This was done by having an on-line vote for the twelve most popular pictures. And I would like to thank all who entered and all who voted.

Having collated the votes to find out what was the most popular orchids, the next task was to design an informative calendar giving information about the South Australian orchids featured as well as significant NOSSA event dates and a very rough guide indicating when the orchids are likely to be flowering.

If you are interested in ordering a calendar, contact NOSSA as per the details on the flyer above.

Selecting Photographs for 2019 NOSSA Calendar

Every year, NOSSA holds monthly photograph competitions. This year, NOSSA decided to give the entrants an opportunity for their photographs to appear on a calendar. There have been 51 entries this year, so we are asking people to vote for the twelve images that they would like to see in a calendar.

To vote

  • Select the numbers corresponding to the twelve images that you would most like to see in your calendar
  • Indicate if you are interested in purchasing a calendar
  • Email – nossa.enquiries@gmail.com  (Subject Heading – Calendar)
  • Voting closes on Thursday 1 November 2018

The results will be collated to determine the twelve most popular images will go into the calendar. We plan to have the calendars available for purchase at the next meeting, Tuesday 27 November.

If you would like more details or see the images in a higher resolution, use the above email address to contact NOSSA.

2018 Thumbnails Photogrpahs for voting

Spiranthes alticola

At this time of the year there are not many orchids flowering in South Australia but one that is just finishing is Spiranthes alticola. The genus Spiranthes, commonly known as Ladies Tresses, is found throughout Australia, Eurasisa and the Americas.The following description is an extract from South Australia’s Native Orchids 2011 DVD which is available from the Native Orchid Society of South Australi. 

Spiranthes alticola D.L.Jones

Swamp Spiral Orchid

Etymology: The name alticola means high dweller, referring to its distribution in Eastern Australia, in west Victoria and South Australia’s South East.  It also grows near sea level.

Synonyms: Previously included in Neottia australis R. Br., S. sinensis (Pers.) Ames and S. australis R.Br.

 

 

(These two pictures show the variation in colour.)

Description: Leaves 3-5, narrow lanceolate, shiny, erect at the base, to 15 cm long. Flower stem to 45 cm tall, slender, flexible, with several sheathing bracts.  The flowers are numerous in a dense spiral, pink with a white labellum, rarely all white.  Segments are 6-10 mm long, sepals somewhat triangular, petals lanceolate, together forming a short tube, the tips free and recurved, and the lateral sepals divergent.  Labellum with a broad, decurved crisped, pellucid mid-lobe, side-lobes erect small.  The flowers are faintly fragrant.

spiranthes-alticola-leavesrwl-92

(Leaves of Spiranthes alticola)

Flowering: Dec – Jan – Feb.

Similar Species: S. australis, S. sp. Late selfing-white.

Distribution: SL, KIx, SE; NSW, Vic, Tas.

Confined in South Australia to a few high rainfall, near coastal, often mountain locations, southward from the Adelaide Hills in the Southern Lofty region, extinct on Kangaroo Island, (one record only), and South East; also in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.

Habitat: Restricted to peaty bogs and swampy creek-sides, often in locations that are inundated throughout winter; in some areas surviving in paddocks grazed by stock.

Distinguishing Features:  S. australis, which is from the eastern states and is not strictly a swamp plant, has smaller darker pink flowers with a narrow labellum.

  • The two South Australian forms treated here are regarded as distinct species as where they are sympatric they begin flowering at different times and do not intergrade. S. alticola is the more delicate of the two.

Notes:  The best specimens are found on mowed firebreaks adjacent to swamps.  When vegetative reproduction produces two clonal plants next to each other the spiral arrangement of one is often a mirror image of the other.  See Gallery.

Native bee pollinators work the spikes from the bottom upward but as the stigma becomes receptive well after the pollinia have matured this mechanism helps ensure outcrossing.

Plants do well in cultivation if kept moist over summer.

Conservation Status:

Status in Legislation: Not listed nationally, rare in South Australia.

Suggested Status: Rare in South Australia but more common in the Eastern States

 

Growing Leek Orchids – Is it Possible?

The Native Orchid Society of SA has been involved with the Threatened Orchid Project which is attempting to propagate some of our most threatened orchids.  There has been some success such as Thelymitra epicaptoides (Metallic Sun Orchids) but others are proving elusive.  Marc Freestone, from the Orchid Conservation Project, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, is a PhD student who is researching one such difficult to grow orchid genus, the Prasophyllum.

Prasophyllum murfettii sm
Prasophyllum murfettii (Denzel’s Leek Orchid)

To assist with his research Marc has the sent the following request.

CAN ANYONE GROW LEEK ORCHIDS?

South Australia has about 40 species and Victoria about 74 species of the native Leek Orchids, Prasophyllum.  Some are on the brink of extinction.

A major problem hampering efforts to prevent our Leek Orchids from going extinct is that they have proven next to impossible to grow in cultivation.  They have proved extremely difficult, usually not germinating at all, or germinating but then dying soon after.  Occasionally some success has been had (particularly with symbiotic germination) but successful germination trials to our knowledge have so far proved un-repeatable.  Working out how to grow Prasophyllum is critical for the survival of many species at risk of extinction across southern Australia.

To try and change this, I will be studying Prasophyllum and their relationships with symbiotic mycorrhizal fungi.

But I need your help!

I am wanting to hear from as many people as possible who

  • have tried (either successfully or unsuccessfully) to grow Leek Orchids or the closely related Midge Orchids (Corunastylis).
  • have observed Leek Orchids (or Midge Orchids) recruiting from seed in the wild.

If you can help, or know of anyone who might be worth talking to, please contact me at: marc.freestone@rbg.vic.gov.au or 0428 304 299.

(Funding and support for this project: Australian National University, Federal Government National Environmental Science Programme, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, University of Tasmania).

I would encourage people to contact Marc with whatever information that you have, no matter how insignificant you may think it is.  Every little bit helps including unsuccessful attempts.

His eventual aim is to be able to work out how to grow them reliably from seed in cultivation.

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

 

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.

Sun Orchid Observations – Extract from Start With The Leaves

In the past week there has been some Facebook conversation on the identification of some Thelymitra (Sun Orchids) here in South Australia.  Sun Orchids can be problematic particularly when there is only one photograph.  If the photograph has a clear view of a diagnostic feature, then identification becomes simpler but there are many species for which careful observations are necessary to determine the correct one.  This is important when considering some of the complexes, eg T. nuda and T. pauciflora which have several similar species.  Colour is not always helpful as there can be either variation in colour or no colour at all.  Further complicating identification is that Sun Orchids readily hybridise, far too easily sometimes!

When Robert Lawrence wrote his book, Start With the Leaves, he realised the difficulty in identifying some orchids, so he included a checklist of observations.  The checklist is extensive but was developed to be used with the electronic version of South Australia’s Native Orchids by RJ Bates which covered all the known South Australian orchids in 2011.

 To assist in orchid identification, take as many photographs as possible, showing different parts of the plant and habitat from as many different angles.  But remember, photograph the typical plants.

Which is which
In this collage there are several species but which is which?

At the bottom of the post is a picture showing the parts of the flower.

The following extract is from pages 185 – 187

Thelymitra species (Sun Orchids)

Habitat features

Describe the habitat where the plants are found

Is the species confined to swamps or very moist sites?

Was the site burnt in the last year or two?  (Find out when if possible)

Are the plants restricted to a particular habitat or is there a range of situations where it grows?

Has it multiplied following disturbance?

Does it prefer wet or dry sites?

What other plants are growing with the orchids, including the trees forming the canopy?

Number of plants

Estimate the number of plants or describe the distribution of the plants at the site

Do plants occur in small clumps?

Do plants occur in colonies and if so how large are they?

Size of the plant

What is the height of the flower stem and width of the flower stem?

Leaf features

What are the length, width and shape of the leaf?

Is the leaf flat, channelled (u-shaped) or tubular in section?

Does the leaf change shape along its length?

Does the leaf have parallel ridges?

Is the leaf thick and fleshy or thin and papery?

What colour is the leaf?

Does the leaf have a reddish base and is the red colouration in parallel lines?

Are there any hairs on the leaf and are they confined to the margins?

Is the leaf rigid and upright or is it weak at the tip and falling under its own weight?

What is the tip of the leaf like and does it have a pointed apex?

Are the leaves shiny or to they have a powdery covering?

Stem features

What is the diameter of the stem?

What is the colour of the stem?

How high is the fistula, the point the point where the stem separates from the leaf?

Sterile bracts

(Bracts are leaf-like structures along the flowering stem)

How many bracts are there on the stem (ie those that are not immediately below a flower)?

How long is each of these bracts?

What colour are the bracts?

Are the bracts tightly or loosely wrap around the stem?

Fertile bracts

(Fertile bracts are leaf-like structures at the base of each flower)

How long are the bracts?

What colour are the bracts?

Ovary features

(The ovary is the structure immediately below the petals and sepals that becomes the seed capsule after the flowers are pollinated)

What colour are the ovaries?

How long are the ovaries?

How wide are the ovaries?

Flower features

What time of the year are the flowers open

What is the length and width of each flower?

Do the petals and sepals open widely, or does the flower remain almost closed?

What colour are the petals and sepals?

Do the petals have spots or darker coloured veins?

Is the labellum larger or smaller than the other segments (petals and sepals)?

Are segments rounded, pointed or cup shaped?

What colour is the outside of the buds?

What conditions are required for the flowers to open?  Are they only open in hot, humid conditions?

 Column features

What colour is the main part of the column?

Describe the post-anther/mid-column lobe

Is there a tubular structure on the top of the column?  What colour is this and does it have a collar of a different colour?

Does the lobe have a cleft in the apex and how deep is this?

Does the column have lateral lobes (arms) reaching in front of the column?

Are there trichomes (hair-like structures) in a mop or toothbrush arrangement?

Is there a sharp bend in the column arms?

If there is not a tubular lobe, are there three levels of structures on the column?

Are there papillae (rows of narrow bumps)?  How many and what colour are they?

What colour is the crest, if present?

Fragrance

Describe the fragrance of the flower or whether there is none

Thelymitra Flower Details

Related Articles

Thelymitra (Sun Orchid) Columns

What Orchid is This? How Photos can Help! Part One of Two Parts

What Orchid is This? How Photos can Help! Part Two of Two Parts – Comparing Crytostylis reniformis and C. robusta

Spotted Pink Sun Orchid – Beautiful but Only A Hybrid  T. x irregularis

November 2015 Winning Picture includes T. x truncata and T. x irregularis

Those Blue Orchids Again – An Overview of the Thelymitra nuda complex