The Native Orchid Society is involved in many different activities, one of them being to assist researchers. In 2020, Covid 19 struck bringing many university projects to a halt. But in South Australia, NOSSA members were able to help PhD candidate Alex Thomsen, University of New South Wales, set up her project titled Impacts of Changing Fire Seasons on Orchids. The following video is her brief presentation of her planned research that she gave to the general membership at the September meeting.
So many of us are interested in preserving our native flora and fauna, and for NOSSA it is the native orchids. But many of us may not be aware of how we can play a significant role in minimising our impact upon the environment so that they are still around for our children and grandchildren
The following video is a brief overview of two documents that NOSSA has produced. They are guidelines to help individuals know how they can minimalize their impact on the environment and so assist in the conservation of our beautiful and unique native orchids.
Below are the links to the documents referred to in the video:
The following article is from the Native Orchid Society of South Australia Journal Volume 44 No 7, author Rosalie Lawrence.
Over the years there have been many orchid name changes (particularly at genus level), some quite drastic, some multiple times and for many there can be a reversion back. Yes, this creates confusion but there are times when some of these name changes, known as segregates (both at species and genus level) can be useful.
A case in point, is Lindsay Ames’ winning photograph (June) – Caladenia carnea synonym Petalochilus carneus. Petalochilus was proposed as a genus in 2001 by DL Jones, MA Clements, et al. It was one of many proposed genera changes. Many discussion papers followed but in 2015 after further taxonomic and DNA work, Mark Clements et al published a paper that “points to Lindley’s 1840 interpretation of Caladenia (…..) as being the most accurate reflection of the group.” Hence the discontinued use of Petalochilus and the other segregate genera.
So, it currently belongs with Caladenia, a large genus with over 350 species (mainly in Australia). It is a genus with great morphological (visual) diversity – compare Caladenia tentaculata with C. cucullata or C. flava. But Caladenia subgenera Caladenia (synonym Petalochilus*), as a much smaller segregate genus allows us to visualize a specific group within the Caladenia genus.
Caladenia sens. lat. are characterised by single hairy leaf, lacking lobes or serrations; hairy stem; showy flowers with similar sepals & petals. The labellum is highly modified consisting of three lobes with calli on the middle lobe.
Petalochilus is further characterised by small (1 – 5 cm) pink to white flowers, short broad forward projecting tepals; erect to slightly incurved dorsal sepal, distinct trilobe labellum, hinged, with calli and red transverse bars, column green to pink with red to purple bars.
Yet within Petalochilus itself there can be further groupings of which P carneus is most likely the main one. This consists of at least 8 species – P carneus (C carnea), P catenatus (C catenata), P coactilis (C coactilis), P fuscatus (C fuscata), P ornatus (C ornata), P prolatus (C prolata) , P. vulgaris (C vulgaris) and P xantholeucus (C xantholeuca). When a specimen cannot be identified to species level, it may be helpful to refer to it as a complex.
This is where comes the fun of trying to identify the specific species in the field (or for that matter from a photograph). To help myself understand, I often produce comparison charts based on descriptions found in the literature. The chart comparing the eight species is available as a pdf.
*Throughout the article the synonym Petalochilus is used for Caladenia subgenera Caladenia to make a clear distinction from Caladenia sens lat. It needs to be noted C carnea is considered the type specimen for Caladenia so with any splits, it will remain in Caladenia.
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.
In 2011, Robert Lawrence wrote a book titled Start with the Leaves, a beginners guide to orchids and lillies of the Adelaide Hills. Bob Bates, editor of South Australia’s Native Orchid 2011, suggested that the next title should be End with the Pods. Well another field guide has not been written but following Bob’s suggestion, it might be interesting to see how far one can go with orchid identification based upon the pods, or finished seed capsules.
As most of the orchids for the Adelaide Hills and Fleurieu Peninsula have finished, it might be worth a look at some capsules found this year and see how far we can go with identification.
Here is the first one: These pictures were taken on a mobile phone on the 30th November, 2019 on the Fleurieu Peninsula. There were several plants with single pods scattered across the park. The stems were reasonably tall (est 30cm) and surprisingly easy to spot.
The habitat is open forest consisting of Eucalyptus leucoxylon (Blue Gum), E. baxteri (Brown Stringybark) and E. fasciculosa(Pink Gum).
Is there enough information to identify this plant to species level? Comment on what you think it is and why.
Sadly many of our orchids are under threat of extinction.
Fortunately, conservationists and researchers are putting in a lot of effort in an attempt to save them. Part of this work consists of caging and tagging individual plants.
Most people do the right thing and do not disturb the cages/tags. Unfortunately some, hopefully mainly through lack of knowledge, do move them. Sadly, too many of them are being moved. Sometimes they are re-positioned but not always.
There are a good reasons for the individual plants to be tagged/caged. And there are good reasons for not moving either the tags or the cages.
Tags are usually numbered. These numbered tags are reference locations from which the distance and bearing of plants are measured. If the pin is moved the record for that individual plant is invalidated. Position of pins are used to determine if plants reappear in succeeding years.
Replacing the pins can also result in inadvertently spearing, and thus destroying, the tubers.
Cages are used to protect individual plants from grazing. Moving cages, even if returned, can result in damage to the plant, as well as damage to any emerging juvenile plants.
NOSSA & Conservation
One of the main activities of NOSSA is conservation. Many of our members assist in the work of monitoring, caging and tagging of plants. They know of the time and effort required for this work. They know why it is important not to move tags or cages, not even for taking photographs.
But we are aware that there are those who do not know and so would ask that others pass this message onto friends who may be unaware of the significance of cages/tags.
So simply put, “Cages & tags are not to be moved under any circumstances”.
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.
This article is a completion of the Thelymitra Column article which appeared in the NOSSA Journal, Volume 42 No 8 September 2018. Click here for Part One.
The first part looked at the features and terms used by botanists to describe various parts of the column, a major identification feature of the sun orchids.
And as previously stated we cannot physically dissect an individual flower, but we can make use of photographs to spot the various features.
The diagram below is that of T. nuda (based on the taxonomy of 1984) column whilst the photographs are that of T. glaucophylla column (as T. glaucophylla is one of the T. nuda complex). The column of these two are similar.