With the second month of autumn, we can account for all the orchid species that are usually flowering in the Anglesea district at this time of the year.
The orchid that has captured our attention in the first few weeks of April is Eriochilus cucullatus Parson’s Bands. When I first started looking for orchids, Parson’s Bands were one of the very common orchids in the district, but over the years the numbers have gradually declined and indeed it often has been quite difficult to find them in flower. However this year we have been thrilled to see the species appearing in good numbers throughout our heathland, woodland and open forest areas capturing our attention with its 1-3 white or pink flowers on a slender stem to about 25cm high scattered amongst the grasses.
It is the white or pink lateral sepals that are the eye-catching feature of the orchid as they point downwards like the band on a parson’s collar. Obviously this is the reason for the common name Parson’s Bands. The generic name Eriochilus comes from the Greek erion (wool) and cheilos (a lip) and refers to the woolly appearance of the labellum that is strongly recurved and actually covered with small stiff hairs. The specific name cucullatus (hooded) derives from the Latin and refers to the dorsal sepal that is hooded over the column. The petals are tiny, to 7mm long, usually held erect or reflexed. The glabrous, shiny green leaf is late developing and is usually undeveloped at flowering time. It is often present long after the flower has withered. The flowers are short-lived, have a delicate honey fragrance and are pollinated by native bees.
Other orchids that have continued flowering into this second month of autumn are Corunastylis morrisii Bearded Midge Orchids, C. ciliata Fringed Midge Orchids and Chiloglottis reflexa Autumn Bird Orchids. Three of our greenhood species have also been observed flowering Pterostylis sp.aff revoluta (Inland) Autumn Greenhood, our recently named P. clivosa Brown Tipped Greenhood and P. parviflora Tiny Greenhood with its flowers the smallest in the greenhood genus within the Anglesea district.
Brown Tipped Greenhood
We need to keep our eyes open for Acianthus pusillus Mosquito Orchids and Leporella fimbriata Fringed Hare Orchids that are just starting to flower, while carpets of Pterostylis nutans Nodding Greenhoods are beginning to push their way through the leaf litter in many places.
After all our lovely autumn rains it will be a great time to explore the orchid world. Please let us know of your successes. Photos and descriptions of all our orchids are found in Orchids of the Anglesea District available from ANGAIR.