Thelymitra malvina (Purple Tufted Sun-Orchid)

2019 Winning Photograph Competition

Welcome to our first competition for 2019. For February we had five entries which included Pauline Meyers’ Prasophyllum species from Western Australia, Lindy McCallum’s Glossodia major  and Leptoceras menziesii, Lisa Incoll’s Thelymitra antennifera.

1902 SM Pauley Thelymitra malvina

The winner was Rob Pauley’s photograph from the south east of Thelymitra malvina (Mauve Tufted Sun Orchid) which is found in only a few places in the South East but does occur in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania and even ‘across the ditch’ in New Zealand where it is considered “an Australian species now established in the North Island”.

According to the Atlas of Living Australia, it is endangered in Victoria, South Australia,  Tasmania; of Least Concern in Queensland and there is no listing for New South Wales.

This species has been included in both the T. nuda and T. pauciflora complex for, as Jeanes has observed, it has characteristics of both complexes such as the smaller flowering forms are self-pollinating, and the larger flowering forms are insect pollinated

Though the common name, Mauve Tufted Sun Orchid, indicates that its most distinctive feature are the purple tufts on the post anther lobe, it is possible to find them with white tufts and there are other species that have purple tufts (eg in SA T. azure and T. occidentalis may have purple tufts but it is obvious from their other features that they are not at all similar to T. malvina).  There are no other closely similar species in South Australia, but on the other hand, in the eastern states, it can be confused with Thelymitra atronitida, so it is worthwhile considering some of the main differences between these two.

Although there are no other closely similar species in SA, in the eastern states it can be confused with Thelymitra atronitida, so it is worthwhile considering the differences

T. malvina T atronitida
Stem 3 sterile bracts 2 sterile bracts
Height 25 – 75 cms 30 – 50 cm
Flowers Slightly larger (but can have smaller flowers) Smaller flowers
Inflorescence 3 – 25 usually loose 2 – 8 ( – 16)
Column Reddish to dark brown with yellow apex Glossy black with yellow apex
Post anther lobe Moplike tuft of pink or mauve (rarely white) trichomes Moplike tuft of white trichomes (hairs)

Across the country, there is some variations of flowering times with New South Wales having the longest flowering time from August to November and South Australia along with Tasmania having the shortest of October and November.

REFERENCES

Bates RJ, 2011 South Australia’s Native Orchids, electronic

Backhouse G, Bush Gems, A Guide to the Wild Orchids of Victoria, Australia, 2016, electronic

VicFlora, https://vicflora.rbg.vic.gov.au/flora/taxon/0de4b1c5-3f1f-43ea-9464-c713a12d5758 Accessed 6 March 2019

VicFlora, https://vicflora.rbg.vic.gov.au/flora/taxon/748b23b6-4779-4a93-89fc-8ec2a8b05a06  Accessed 6 March 2019

Atlas of Living Australia, https://bie.ala.org.au/species/NZOR-4-76548  Accessed 6 March 2019

New Zealand Native Orchids, https://www.nativeorchids.co.nz/Descriptions/Thelymitra_malvina.html Accessed 6 March 2019

Jeanes J, 2013 An overview of the Thelymitra nuda (Orchidaceae) complex in Australia including the description of six new species https://www.rbg.vic.gov.au/documents/MuelleriaVol-31-p3-Jeanes-PDF-Accessibility.pdf Accessed 6 March 2019

Natural Value Atlas, https://www.naturalvaluesatlas.tas.gov.au/downloadattachment?id=14596  Accessed 6 March 2019

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