As I have said often, summer is not the time to be overly enthused by our terrestrial orchids but nevertheless there are a number of eye-catching species that occur at this time.
After not being able to find the Spotted (White) Hyacinth Orchid, Dipodium pardalinum, in flower last season, I was thrilled to find one very nice specimen flowering in Aireys Inlet, unfortunately on private land. A visit to the site in Anglesea where our first specimen was recorded in January 1990 failed to find any plants in flower again this year.
Spotted Hyacinth Orchid
The Rosy Hyacinth Orchid, D. roseum, seemed able to cope much better with the hot and dry conditions, and has flowered in large numbers throughout the district. However, the flowers have faded quickly with many of the flower stems being eaten by hungry kangaroos or wallabies. Nevertheless, there were some fine displays along roadsides and in some of our reserves.
Rosy Hyacinth Orchid
Please let us know if you managed to find the Spotted Hyacinth Orchid—it can be confused with pale specimens of the Rosy Hyacinth, but just check the labellum and if it is spotted and not striped it is D. pardalinum.
Two species of Potato Orchids/Cinnamon Bells grow in our district, though they are not common—the smaller species, Gastrodia sesamoides, and Tall Cinnamon Bells, G. procera. I managed to find both species flowering in December. They almost always grow in close proximity to the trunks of eucalypts and often form large clumps in years of good rainfall—something we have been missing for a long time.
G. sesamoides has a slender habit with fewer smaller and less crowded scented flowers than G. procera. The flower stem is up to 50cm tall and can bear up to 20 flowers. The stem is slender with the tip curved over when flowers are in bud.
G. procera has a robust, tall and straight stem that can grow up to 120cm and can bear up to 70 flowers. These flowers have a somewhat warty appearance and the apex of the flower is much more flared than those of G. sesamoides.
Tall Cinnamon Bells (Photo C&M Rowan)
Some other highlights of the summer season have been a good flowering of Little Duck Orchids, Caleana minor, Elbow Orchids, Thynninorchis huntianus, and some fine specimens of the Sickle Greenhood, Pterostylis falcata, at Salt Creek. A few Horned Orchids, Orthoceras strictum, were also observed and a few colonies of Common Bird Orchids, Chiloglottis valida. The conditions did not suit our Large Tongue Orchids, Cryptostylis subulata. The swampy area where they grow was far from being a swamp this year with quite a large number of the evergreen leathery leaves, but even these looked very stressed in the hard, dry ground.
As I write this report there is no forecast of rain that would help our autumn orchids—perhaps some will eventuate!
Please share your orchid finds with us. At this time when orchids are scarce it is more important than ever to build up the bigger picture. Photos and descriptions of all of these orchids are documented in Orchids of the Anglesea District, available from ANGAIR.