With recent rains and sunny days our spring orchid season is looking promising with lots of leaves and buds of a variety of orchids appearing.
The early flowering Leopard Orchids Diuris pardina were observed on the O’Donohue heathlands on August 9, during the sixth Covid lockdown, by lucky locals who lived close by With the lifting of the restrictions for regional Victoria, people were able to wander further, and there are now many reports of these attractive yellow and brown flowers appearing throughout the district.
Again, during this period of relaxed restrictions and once more on the O’Donohue heathlands, it was exciting to find a fine specimen of the Heart-lipped Orchid, Caladenia cardiochila on August 15 and a few days later the first of the Wine-lipped orchids Caladenia oenochila, displaying its beauty.
There is a small colony of these critically endangered orchids growing in this site within the Great Otway National Park and it is very pleasing to see a good number of leaves close by that we anticipate will belong to the same species. C. cardiochila has now been observed flowering in a number of areas. All of these orchids should continue to flower in the weeks to come.
With the sudden decision to impose the 7th Covid restrictions on regional Victoria on August 21, many of our orchid sites once again became restricted to people who live in close proximity. Fortunately, we have been able to make observations in our own areas and we also have had reports from other orchid enthusiasts, and we thank them for sending their information.
The Small Greencomb Spider Orchid, Caladenia parva, has now come into flower at Aireys Inlet and presumably will be appearing in other areas. Although it has a short flower stem and small flower, it is eye-catching with its green petals and sepals with crimson stripes.
Small Greencomb Spider Orchid
The Plain-lip Spider, Caladenia clavigera, has also been sighted at Forest Rd.
Greenhoods Pterostylis sp. have been doing themselves proud. Nodding Greenhoods, P.nutans, Dwarf Greenhoods, P. nana, Maroonhoods, P. pedunculata, and Trim Greenhoods, P. concinna, all reported in our earlier reports, are still flowering strongly in many areas. Two new species have now joined the group. They are Blunt Greenhood P. curta and our endemic species, the Large Bearded Greenhood, P. unicornis. Some very fine specimens of both species are in flower at Aireys Inlet.
Large Bearded Greenhood keeping guard over offspring
Tall Greenhoods, P. melagramma, have been disappointing. They should be flowering well at this time of the year, but there don’t seem to be many of these species about, and the ones that are flowering are very short and with few flowers.
Both species of Gnat Orchids, Cyrtostylis sp., are still in flower. The Large Gnat Orchid, C. robusta, has been putting on a great display in the mossy beds at Pt Roadknight. Mayfly Orchids, Acianthus caudatus, are unfurling their buds now with their delicate fine long reddish sepals looking most attractive. It is a widespread species but is not common.
Leaves and buds of many other species are also appearing. Red Beaks, Pyrorchis nigricans, and Hare Orchids, Leptoceras menziesii, two species that flower well after fire, have been observed in good bud in some of the burnt areas around Anglesea. Two small Red Beak flowers and a couple of buds have been observed at Aireys Inlet. They tend to flower at this site each year regardless of whether or not the area has been burnt.
Red Beak Orchid at Aireys
Waxlips, Glossodia major, is one species that can be relied on to put on a springtime display each year, and a few flowers have already been observed in the area with many others in good bud. We have also had a report of an early sun orchid in flower, Rabbit Ears, Thelymitra antennifera, and spring has not yet started!
An exciting find for August has been the discovery of two specimens of Blue Fingers ,Cyanicula caerulea, – one at Moggs Creek and another at the opposite end of our district on Gundrys Road. It is an enigma of an orchid in our area. Over the years we have usually seen it in flower, but always just as one flower in different places each year. However, in other areas it grows in large colonies where often hundreds of the blue flowers cover the ground. It does grow from seed so possibly the seed is blown around the district and when lodged in suitable environment the seed germinates and the flower appears. The beautiful little flower at Moggs Creek has been admired by many walkers in the district.
Cheery Blue Fingers
Not to be outdone, another small blue orchid, Bluebeard, Pheladenia deformis, has been seen flowering near Coalmine Road - a cluster of about 12 flowers and another few scattered along the roadside. They are quite often seen in attractive clumps following fire, but this area was last burnt in 2018. Perhaps they have appeared just to brighten up our spirits. If we cannot see see them in their habitat we can admire the great photo sent in by Peter Crowcroft. We must feel happier after seeing this great display. Some more beautiful specimens and a few white ones were later found in a recently burnt area on the hillside overlooking the old mine site.
Blue Beard cluster
Dusky Fingers, Caladenia fuscata, a small finger orchid similar to Pink Fingers, C.carnea, has also appeared at Aireys Inlet in the last few days. The flowers can be white or pink, have dark glands on the outside of the flower and the large lateral lobes project forwards. This is a recent addition to our local orchid list.
It is an exciting time to explore the orchid world and hopefully by the time you are reading this report the Covid restrictions will have been lifted, and people will once again be able to wander in our beautiful environment being challenged to find these fascinating plants. We send our best wishes to those who have been in lockdown in more urban areas and not able to pursue their interest in orchids.
If you are out and about please let us know of your orchid finds. We appreciate your support and it is so important to share and record as many sightings as possible.
All of our orchids are documented and photographed in Orchids of the Anglesea District available from Angair.
There are a number of wonderful local Friends Groups that provide ANGAIR members and the community with opportunities for involvement.