The following article, March Winning Photograph, is from Volume 44 no 4, May 2020 Native Orchid Society of South Australia Journal.
Pauline Myers’ Arachnorchis cardiochila was the winning picture. Synonyms for Arachnorchis cardiochila are Caladenia cardiochila, Phlebochilus cardiochilus and Caladenia tessellata. Common names include Heart Lipped Spider Orchid, Thick Lipped Spider Orchid, Fleshy Lipped Caladenia.
This species was named in 1886 by Professor Tate who presented it at the Royal Society of South australia at the October meeting. He did the original drawing.
The type specimen was collected at Golden Grove on October 2 1886 but it had also been collected much earlier (1865) at Barraba Scrub which is in the region of Mallalla.
Its fate in both these areas has not been good; it is extinct in Golden Grove and critically endangered in the region containing Barabba Scrub. Although, it is considered to be a reasonably common orchid throughout its range in South Australia, Victoria and Southern New South Wales, there are areas of concern as seen the Seedbank of South Australia map below.
It should be noted that though Caladenia tessallata is listed as a synonym that this was used incorrectly, as C. tessallata is a separate but similar species found in the eastern states. Its main difference from C. cardiochila is that the edge of the labellum (lip) is toothed, not smooth as seen in Pauline’s photo.
Shane Grave’s winning photograph for April was the spring flowering Caladenia plicata which is endemic to the South West of Western Australia.
Caladenia is a very large genus with over 330 species, 39 of these currently unnamed. In addition, there are 58 named subspecies and varieties. Caladenia plicata would belong under the subgenus Calonema or the segregate genus Arachnorchis which, although not generally recognised by State herbaria is commonly accepted by many amateur enthusiasts. Yet even this subdivision is still large with 192 species. As a result, some authors have created further groups/complexes, for example C. dilatata complex, C.longicauda complex, etc. However, according to Andrew Brown, C. plicata doesn’t seem to fit neatly into any of these categories, although David Jones does include it within the clubbed spider orchids.
Various authors consistently refer to the labellum as being unusual. In Fitzgerald’s formal description (1882) he states that the labellum tip is “recurved so as to become plicate and touch the under surface of the disc”. Plicate means to fold. The labellum tip of many other Arachnorchis species are known to curl under but none fold under in the way that this species does. The sharp fold with the spreading horizontal fringed margins (edges) combined with a central band of tall dense calli (wart-like structures) gives a distinctive shape reminiscence of a crab, hence the common name Crab Lipped Spider Orchid. The effect of this is best seen from a front, rather than a side, view.
The very mobile labellum is sufficient to identify this species, but it is also possible to identify when in bud “due to the prominent short osmophores (clubs) on the sepals”. The sepals narrow halfway along to form thick brown clubs and when the flower is open both the lateral sepals and petals are downswept. This is clearly seen in Shane’s photograph.
Leo Davis always has some interesting insights from his orchid observations. In this article he examines the position of the tepals (petals and sepals) in particular the Moose Orchid which he saw for the first time this year.
Have a close look, next season (winter to early summer) at some of our native lilies. Start with the jolly bulbine lily (Bulbine bulbosa), no longer a true lily incidentally, because it now resides in family Aspodelaceae, along with the grass trees. You will find three yellow petals at 12, 4 and 8 o’clock and closely behind them three almost identical sepals at 2, 6 and 10 o’clock, so at first sight you see six apparently identical tepals (sepals and petals). Move on to the rush fringe-lily (Thysanotus juncifolius), as described in Ann Prescott’s ‘It’s Blue With Five Petals’. Clive Chesson is more up to date and tells me it is now T. racemoides. Again it is no longer a true lily, now sitting in family Asparagaceae. Here the tepals are noticeably different. Three wide densely fringe edged petals will be found, if you view the flower face on, at 12, 4 and 8 o’clock. The narrow non fringed sepals sit close behind at 2, 6 and 10 o’clock. These are just a generalisations because if the flower turns only about 60o a sepal will be at the top.
Most orchids, while close relatives of the true lilies and the one time lilies, do not show these arrangements. Let’s start with some that do.
In the large duck orchid (Caleana major) the petal at 12 o’clock, the dorsal petal, is modified, as in most, but as usual, not all, orchids, to become a labellum. In this charmer the labellum takes the form of a duck’s head. Its function is to snap down trapping a pollinator insect in the cup shape column below it, forcing it into contact with the sticky off white stigma and/or the yellow pollinia below it. Look closely and you will find the other two narrow petals drooping at around 4 and 8 o’clock. Two folded, twisted sepals can be clearly seen at around 1 and 11 o’clock. The third sepal, at 6 o’clock, is tucked in behind the cup shaped column. Note that, as with lilies, the top tepal is a petal.
The leek orchids (genus Prasophyllum) follow this pattern and also have their labellum at around 12 o’clock. These orchid groups, which are up the right way, are said to be ‘not upside down’, using the technical term ‘non resupinate’.
Most orchids are ‘upside down’ and are called resupinate. The whole flower rotates 180o, clockwise or anti I don’t know, at the embryonic stage. But let’s start with somewhat of an exception with the sun orchids (genus Thelymitra) which do not have a petal modified as a labellum. But they are indeed upside down.
Have a close look at the Thelymitra benthamiana flower. Note that the three petals, at roughly 2, 6 and 10 o’clock, are in front of the three slightly larger but very similar sepals, at 12, 4 and 8 o’clock.
Note that the toptepal is a sepal. The flower is upside down, that is resupinate. In most orchids the petal at 6 o’clock would be modified to be a labellum.
The Arachnorchis (possibly Caladenia to you) stricta, from Sherlock, out in the mallee, is more typical of terrestrial orchids in SA. It is upside down, that is resupinate, and has a petal modified to be a labellum.
The bottom petal has become a wide labellum, with fine edge combs and parallel rows of rich plum coloured calli covering its centre. Out at roughly 3 o’clock is a narrow petal, the other invisible on the other side. At the top, pressed tightly against the column, a sepal arches forward. Two larger sepals extend down at around 5 and 7 o’clock.
When I saw my first, my only, moose orchid, this season, I was in such a state of excitement that it looked to me to be up the right way, that is to say upside down.
Have a look. Two narrow short roughly vertical petals at about 1 and 11 o’clock. There are two sepals at just past 3 and just before 9 o’clock. That’s OK but where is the other sepal? Are there it is, where it should be, at midday. But hang on, it’s behind the flower stem (peduncle) and where is the column?
Holding the labellum up with a stick I found the column, the stigma and the pollinia, underneath the labellum. The third sepal now appears to be at 6 o’clock. And it all became clear. This flower was up the right way (non resupinate) but it has turned forward, on its peduncle, by about 180o, to become upside down, but not in the manner of resupinate flowers, because it is back to front. It is an inverted non resupinate flower. Still with me?
We frequently receive entries from Western Australia but this month our entries were from both the west and the east. Allen Jennings entered a Calanthe triplicata (Christmas Orchid) from New South Wales. Pauline Meyer’s was from the west, (Western) Flying Duck Orchid, Paracaleana nigrita. The other entries were South Australian, Jenny Pauley’s recently photographed Leporella fimbriata (Fringed Hare Orchid), Greg Sara’s Thelymitra rubra (Common Pink Sun Orchid) and Judy Sara’s Plumatochilos sp. (Bearded Orchid) and Arachnorchis sp. (Spider Orchid).
The winning photograph was Judy’s Spider Orchid. Obviously it was one of the Green Comb Spider Orchids – A.dilatata complex. Of this group there are about a dozen possibilities. Knowing the location, Mt Boothby, helped to narrow the options with the most likely candidate being Arachnorchis stricta but it wasn’t convincing. It would appear that the tips of the sepals may have been chewed off when in bud.
A distinguishing feature of this species is that there are no clubs or osmophores on the sepals. Other species of this complex have clubs. Another feature is that the dorsal sepal is bent over the column unlike many other green combs which have an erect dorsal sepal. The features that caused doubt were lateral sepals looking droopy instead of being characteristically stiffly held out but dry conditions could cause this. The other was that the labellum did not strictly fit the description of A. stricta but then again it is a variable species.
The conclusion was a possible hybrid but there is no information on the likely parents or that is an atypical A. stricta that may have been damaged in bud.
This is an example of the difficulties that can occur when attempting to identify a plant from one photograph.
Personal communications Thelma Bridle (NOSSA Conservation Officer)
Personal communications Bob Bates
Bates, R. J., ed. (2011). South Australian Native Orchids. Electronic version, 2011. NOSSA
Rules of entry:
The subject matter must have something to do with Australian orchids. Any format is acceptable including Photo shopped images, artwork, etc
Of the five entries this month, three were spider orchids and the winner was from this group. It was Rob Pauley’s Arachnorchis cardiochila (syn Caladenia cardiochila), Heart Lip Spider Orchid which can be found across South Australia and into western Victoria. At one time a specimen was found on Flinders Island, Tasmania but as it was collected in 1947 it is considered extinct in that region.
This lovely flower is quite variable in colour and form.
The heart shape labellum is a distinctive feature of this spider orchid, so it is not surprising that this is reflected in the name. Cardio means heart and chila lip.
What probably is surprising is that the traditional heart shape symbol has come full circle. It had a botanical origin. According to cardiologist Professor Armin Dietz the symbol was originally a stylized vine/ivy leaf as evidenced from paintings on goblets from the 3rd millennium. In the Middle Ages, doctors and anatomists used the shape to represent the heart. As at that time Latin and Greek were both the international languages of scholars, including doctors, the word associated with the symbol was the Greek word kardia (ie cardio) meaning heart. Consequently, by the time Ralph Tate names this species in 1887, the shape has become intrinsically linked with the heart and so it must have appeared to him as an obvious descriptive name.
There are several field guides which give a detailed description of the species including South Australia’s Native Orchids DVD-ROM which is available for sale from NOSSA.
This month’s entries of Oligochaetochilus arenicola, Caladenia flava, Calochilus robertsonii , Diuris palustris and Caladenia procera illustrated the variety of shapes to be found in orchids.
All but one are reasonably common; all but one were photographed in situ and that one was the winning picture by Kris Kopicki – Caladenia procera. Its common name, Carbunup King Spider Orchid, reflects its location near Busselton Western Australia. This species has a severely limited distribution with a small population and is threatened by land clearing for development. Consequently it is rated as critically endangered.
The other aspect of this plant is that it is a photograph of a plant in a pot not the bush. Kris benched the original plant at the September Tuesday meeting when it was still in bud. By Saturday it was in glorious flower.
This picture exemplifies the two objects of NOSSA which “are to promote and engage in activities for the promotion and furtherance of:
the culture, propagation, conservation, knowledge and scientific study of the native orchids of Southern Australia and the Australasian region;
the preservation of orchids as a species and their preservation within their native habitat.”
Some terrestrial orchids are relatively easy to grow but not this one. It takes time patience and skill to grow them. C procera is one of the fungi dependent species and though capable of living many years, it can take up to six years before flowering, although under ideal condition it could mature in as little as two years.
Being able to grow the different terrestrial orchids is one of the ways NOSSA can help in their conservation. NOSSA has a Growers’ Forum each meeting night where members can attend and learn from experienced growers how to grow both epiphytes and, importantly, the terrestrials.
Native Orchid Society of South Australia Inc. (NOSSA) Rules of Association 2007