Disappointingly the orchids have not appeared again this month due to the very dry conditions.
Just two Parson's Bands, Eriochilus cucullatus, have been found during our observations. Usually at this time they would be scattered through the heathy woodland, but as this species is dependent upon good late summer or early autumn rains it is not surprising that they are not flowering this year. This orchid can grow to 25 cm tall with two white, prominent lateral sepals, a hooded dorsal sepal and a recurved labellum covered with small stiff hairs. The flowers have a honey fragrance that attracts pollinators.
We located one more Sharp Midge, Corunastylis despectans, that was featured in our newsletter last month. There surely would be more on this site but if so, they were obviously hiding from us.
There is a nice little group of Bearded Midge Orchids, C. morrisii, on the Scout Camp Rd, but the usual sites on Forest Rd turned up just one—the roadside vegetation is just so parched. Although tiny, these attractive orchids are impressive when seen with a hand lens or an enlarged photo. The petals, sepals and labellum are all hairy, especially the labellum which is densely fringed with long hairs. The reddish-purple flower stalks can grow to 30 cm tall, though not this year.
Bearded Midge Orchid
The Fringed Midge Orchid, C. ciliata, usually found in grassland or along roadsides, has not been found this year on any of the sites where it usually appears. It is an attractive little species with its yellowish green flowers and red labellum that is fringed with sparse hairs.
Fringed Midge Orchid
Hopefully there is some rain soon to help our autumn orchids along and all the other plants in desperate need of water.
Please let us know of your orchid finds. This is especially important at this dry time. They are all documented and photographed in Orchids of the Anglesea District available from ANGAIR.
Margaret MacDonald and Alison Watson