Caladenia plicata – April Winning Photograph

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.

Finally, for those interested in pollination, it is pollinated by an undescribed male thynnine wasp of the genus Zeleboria. This has been captured on video https://ars.els-cdn.com/content/image/1-s2.0-S0960982217306310-mmc6.mp4

 

Thank you to Andrew Brown for assisting me with this article.

References:

Brown A, et al, Field Guide to the Orchids of Western Australia 2013

Brown A, personal communication

Caladenia accessed 24 May 2019

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caladenia

Caladenia plicata Wikipedia accessed 24 May 2019

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caladenia_plicata

Haiyang Xu et al Complex Sexual Deception in an Orchid Is Achieved by Co-opting Two Independent Biosynthetic Pathways for Pollinator Attraction 2017

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982217306310

Jones DL, A Complete Guide to Native Orchids of Australia including the Island Territories 2006

Jones DL, et al, Australian Orchid Genera CD-ROM 2008 CSIRO accessed 24 May 2019

https://www.anbg.gov.au/cpbr/cd-keys/orchidkey/html/genera/Arachnorchis.htm

Pelloe, EH, West Australian Orchids 1930

http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks04/0400681h.html#page50

Orchids of South-West Australia website

http://chookman.id.au/wp_orchids/?page_id=2424

 

 

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

Snapshot of Australian Orchid Conservation

Internationally, there is concern about the decline of orchids as seen in the resolutions passed in May 2016 at the International Orchid Conservation Congress Conference.  In Australia, there are many orchid conservation projects in progress both in situ and ex situ.

The following are some examples of the varied work being done around the country by volunteers, orchid enthusiasts, ecologists, conservationists, academics and government departments.

And here in South Australia there are also various projects. Dr Noushka Reiter is also working with the South Australian Seedbank to help propagate four of our very threatened orchids.  Members of the Native Orchid Society are assisting as also are Paul Beltrame (teacher) and students from Kildare College through the Orchid in Schools Project.

06 sm PM Arachnorchis argocalla

 

June 2016 Winning Picture

1606 sm RM Caladenia cairnsiana

It is always good to see other members submitting images for the competition. This month Rob Soergel entered Urochilus sanguineus growing with Bunochilus viriosus and Ros Miller a Caladenia cairnsiana. Others were Rob and Jenny Pauley’s mass flowering of short Urochilus sanguineus, Pauline Meyers’ Arachnorchis cardiochila hybrid (possibly with A. strigosa) and Lorraine Badger’s Diuris corymbosa.

The winning picture taken by Ros Miller C. cairnsiana (Zebra Orchid) is one of Western Australia’s unique and interesting orchids. It was first collected by Baron Von Mueller (Victorian Government Botanist 1857–1873) from the Stirling Ranges and subsequently named in 1869 after the Rev Adam Cairns a Melbourne Presbyterian minister who promoted “various philanthropic studies”. In the 2000’s various synonyms were applied to the name, most notably Jonesiopsis cairnsiana (2003).

Many of the distinctive features of this species are readily seen in Ros’ picture – the non-clubbed, equidimensional short lateral sepals and petals which are hard pressed up against the ovary; the smooth, upswept labellum. What is not seen is the leaf which is erect large pale green with the bottom third usually irregularly blotched with red-purple.

Flowering from August to November, occasionally in clumps, these orchids are distributed over an extensive geographic area from Lancelin approximately 130 km north east of Perth, to Israelite Bay near Esperance some 775 km south east. They grow in a range of habitats from forests, woodlands, to mallee heathlands.

Interestingly for such a widespread and colourful flower, they are often missed being seen as they are ‘small and hard to see’.

References

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

Hanson, Kim (2016) WANOSCG Facebook conversation July 2016 https://www.facebook.com/groups/377740182396565/

http://www.orchidspecies.com/caladcairnsiana.htm accessed July 6 2016

http://members.iinet.net.au/~emntee/HISTORY_OF_ORCHID_COLLECTING.htm accessed July 6 2016

Archer, W http://esperancewildflowers.blogspot.com.au/2009/09/zebra-orchid-caladenia-cairnsiana.htm acc 12 July 2016

May 2016 Winning Picture

1605 sm PM Caladenia flava

There were four entries this month with two from Western Australia Pauline Meyers’s Caladenia flava and Ros Miller’s Caladenia longicauda sbsp. eminens; one local Greg Sara’s Pheladenia deformis; and one from the Australian Capital Territory, Lorraine Badger’s Cyanicula caerulea.  The winner was the Caladenia flava.

If I was to think of an orchid that represents Western Australia it would be hard to choose between the Queen of Sheba and this one.

With its long flowering season (July to December) it is Western Australia’s most common and widespread species; being found in the south west triangle of the state from Kalbarii to Israelite Bay; in habitat as variable as the coastal heathlands through to inland rocky outcrops; from forests to swamp margins.  Being so prevalent, it is not surprising that it was amongst one of the first Western Australian orchids collected in September to October, 1791 by the ship-surgeon and naturalist, Archibald Menzies. It was subsequently named in 1810 by Scottish botanist Robert Brown.

C. flava is one of the five species belonging to the subgenus Elevatae. The other four being C. marginata, C. nana, C. reptans (all WA endemics) and C. latifolia which is widespread across southern Australia. All five species have the same characteristic feature of the calli joined together on a raised plate near the base of the labellum. C. flava is distinctively and predominately yellow whereas the others are pink or white.

C. flava has two pollinators, native bees which are lured deceitfully to the non-existent nectar and scarab beetles (Neophyllotocus sp.). As they share the same pollinators, C. flava often hybridizes with C. reptans and C. latifolia, producing very colourful offspring.

Observations have led orchidologists to divide C. flava into 3 subspecies. These differences are based upon floral morphology. but curiously they each have their own separate distribution.

References:

Brown A, et al, 2013 Field Guide to the Orchids of Western Australia

Hopper, SD & Brown, AP 2001b Contributions to Western Australian Orchidology: 2, New taxa and circumscriptions in Caladenia (Spider, Fairy and Dragon Orchids of Western Australia), Nuytsia 14:27–314.

September 2015 Winning Photograph

09 sm PM A ferruginea possible
Caladenia huegelii complex
Plumatichlos sp Woodland Bearded Greenhood
Plumatichlos sp Woodland Bearded Greenhood

Five photos were entered for the September competition and there was a draw, Pauline Meyers’ flower of a plant from the Caladenia hueguelii complex from Western Australia and Jill McPherson’s Plumatichilos sp. Woodland Bearded Greenhood from Scott Creek Conservation Park. The other three by Chris Davey were photographed on Yorke Peninsula (see Letter to the Editor in this September Journal).
As winners they showcase the great diversity that are found in our Australian terrestrial orchids.

Plumatichilos belongs to the greenhoods but the features that set it apart from the other greenhoods are the long thin bristled labellum, the galea pinched in the middle resulting in two openings and the rosette of leaves growing a short way up the stem. Nationally there are thought to be several species but only a small handful have been named. In South Australia, there may be a few distinct species but currently they are usually identified with a phrase name such as Plumatichilos sp Woodland Bearded Greenhood.

Mainly flowering in spring the flowers of the Caladenia huegelii complex are characterised by the thickened clubs on the three sepals, petals shorter than the long sepals, fringed (either short or long) labellum with four or more rows of calli. All of these features can be seen in Pauline’s photograph but the leaf is not so easily seen which should be long, hairy and curve inward. In all there are said to be twenty two species within this complex of which twenty are named.

References:
Brown et al (2013) Field Guide to the Orchids of Western Australia, Floreat, WA Simon Nevill Publications.
Jones, David L (2006) A complete Guide to Native Orchids of Australia, Frenchs Forest, NSW: Reed New Holland
Jeans, Jeffrey & Gary Backhouse (2006) Wild Orchids of Victoria, Seaford Vic: Aquatic Photographics.
Bates, R. J. (2011) South Australia’s Native Orchids NOSSA DVD, Adelaide

2015 May Winning Photograph

05 sm PM Diuris hazeliae

Western Australia produces a lovely array of orchids and so it is not surprising to find in NOSSA photograph competitions that when a Western Australian species is entered it can often be the winner. This month was no different with Pauline Myers beautiful picture of a mass of Diuris hazeliae which was kindly identified by Andrew Brown.

This species has only recently been named in 2013 and as a result finding information was a challenge. Obviously there was no information in Jones Native Orchids of Australia (2006); and surprisingly the definitive Field guide to the Orchids of Western Australia (2013) A Brown et al did not appear to have any information.

But

  • the Western Australian Herbarium’s FloraBase (Western Australian Flora), has a map of distribution which is roughly a diagonal line from east of Geraldton to the north of Esperance. It is not listed as threatened.

    Distribution of Diuris hazeliae.  Map taken from the Western Australian Flora Base
    Distribution of Diuris hazeliae. Map taken from the Western Australian Flora Base
  • the Western Australian Herbarium lists the species as one of 59 new taxa added to their plant census in 2014.
  • from the Atlas of Living Australia it can be deduced that the flowering time is mainly August and September and is likely to be found in various types of shrublands margins including Eucalypt and mallee woodlands and appears to be mainly associated with rocky or granite outcrops.
  • and the National Species List APNI/APC yields the information that it was named after Hazel King, plant collector and conservationist with a special interest in orchids and was previously known by the phrase name Diuris ‘northern granite’ with a common name of Rosy-cheeked Donkey Orchid. It was found in a granite outcrop on her property Tampu (north of Beacon).

Fortunately Andrew Brown was able to help with extra information. It is listed in his book (page 212) but under the phrase name Diuris sp. Eastern Wheatbelt (Yellow Granite Donkey Orchid). Diuris sp. Northern Granite was found to be the same species and so the use of that name was discontinued but it does remain a synonym for Diuris hazeliae.

The following description is information updated from his book “Field Guide to the Orchids of Western Australia”

Diuris hazeliae D.L. Jones & C.J. French (yellow granite donkey orchid)

Flowering: August to September.

Description:

A common, inland donkey orchid 100 to 300 mm high with two to three basal leaves 50 to 150 mm long by 5 to 10 mm wide and up to seven predominantly yellow, brown marked flowers 20 to 40 mm across. Flowers are characterised by their broad petals, very broad dorsal sepal, narrow, reflexed, usually crossed lateral sepals and tri-lobed labellum with broad, spreading lateral lobes and a broad, flattened to convex mid lobe.

Distribution and habitat:

Found between Mullewa, Salmon Gums and Balladonia, growing in shallow soil pockets on granite outcrops and along drainage lines below rocky breakaways.

Notes:

Named in 2013 from specimens collected at Tampu, north of Beacon in September 1997. The species often forms very large colonies on granite outcrops.

Distinctive features:

Inland granite and breakaway habitat.

Very broad dorsal sepal.

Diuris hazeliae is part of the Diuris corymbosa complex of which, in 2013, there were only 10 of the 26 Western Australian species formally named. This situation has now changed with 14 now formally named. As a final word, Diuris orientis is South Australia’s only member of this complex.

More images of this species can be seen on Retired Aussies website http://www.retiredaussies.com/ColinsHome%20Page/OrchidsWA/Diuris/Diuris%20sp%20northen%20granite/Diuris%20sp%20northern%20granite.htm

 

References – All websites accessed on 29th May 2015-06-04

https://florabase.dpaw.wa.gov.au/science/nuytsia/755.pdf

https://florabase.dpaw.wa.gov.au/browse/profile/44161

https://biodiversity.org.au/nsl/services/api/instance/apni/772000

Jones, Native Orchids of Australia and its Territories (2006)

Brown, Field Guide to the Orchids of Western Australia (2013)

October 2014 Winning Photograph

 Caladenia procera

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:

  1. the culture, propagation, conservation, knowledge and scientific study of the native orchids of Southern Australia and the Australasian region;
  2. 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.

Reference:

Native Orchid Society of South Australia Inc. (NOSSA) Rules of Association 2007

Caladenia procera – Carbunup King Spider, Orchid Species Profile and Threats Database (SPRAT) – http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publicspecies.pl?taxon_id=68679 – access 6th November 2014

Remember November’s theme is Orchids and Insects (Spiders and other critters accepted as Honorary Insects)