As the first of our Helmet Orchids, the Small Helmet Orchid, Corybas unguiculatus, that put on such a great display at Mogg s Creek in late June and early July fades away, we have been eagerly awaiting the flowering of the Veined Helmet Orchid, C. diemenicus, and the Slaty Helmet Orchid, C. incurvus.
We have not been disappointed as both species are now flowering in the district.
The Veined Helmet was the first of these two species to appear. A rare orchid in our area it is only known from a few restricted sites where it grows amongst mossy vegetation. However, the small colony on Gum Flat Rd/Forest Rd corner can always be relied upon to produce a good number of flowers each year with the colony gradually extending down the slight slope. The dark red flower with a veined labellum is held on a short thick stem to about 20 mm. Yes, it is tiny, and the colony could easily be mistaken for fungi!
Veined Helmet Orchid
Our third species of Helmet Orchid, C. incurvus, is widespread in the district often with huge numbers of leaves but restricted flowers. The red flowers, with finely toothed margins of the labellum prominently incurved, appear to be resting on the leaf but there is in fact a very short stem. Corybas leaves have a distinct central vein in contrast to the prominently veined leaves of the Gnat Orchids, Cyrtostylis sp.
Slaty Helmet Orchid
Both of our Gnat Orchids—the Small Gnat Orchid, Cyrtostylis reniformis, and the Large Gnat Orchid, C. robusta—are flowering at the present time.
Small Gnat Orchid
The Small Gnat Orchid is very widespread with large colonies of greyish green leaves, while the Large Gnat Orchid is very rare in our district, only known from a coastal area at Point Roadknight and on private land at Aireys Inlet. It differs from the Small Gnat Orchid by the larger, brighter green leaf, more robust habit and larger flowers. The tip of the labellum has a sharp point while that of the Small Gnat has a ragged apex.
Large Gnat Orchid
Staying with the small orchids, the Dwarf Greenhood, Pterostylis nana, is just starting to flower.
This species varies greatly throughout Australia but our form appears to be fairly consistent. It is a common orchid and can form extensive colonies. The flower stem varies in height up to about 15 cm and the neat green and white flower holds its lateral sepals well up above the flower. Unlike the Trim Greenhood, P. concinna, featured in our report last month, the labellum is small and not visible. Trim Greenhoods have continued to flower during July as have the Striped Greenhoods, P. striata.
The Nodding Greenhoods, P. nutans, that were just starting to open last month are now flowering in profusion with carpets of flowers appearing throughout the district.
Carpet of Nodding Greenhoods
Tall Greenhoods, Pterostylis melagramma, are in good bud with a few flowers beginning to open while Blunt Greenhoods, Bearded Greenhoods and Maroonhoods are producing rosettes. The Banded Greenhood, P. sanguinea, recorded two months ago on Forest Rd, is still flowering beautifully as the last flowers open. The buds of Mayflower Orchids, Acianthus caudatus, are appearing with an occasional flower. And one early Leopard Orchid, Diuris pardina, surprised us along a track at O’Donohue heathland on July 17.
Alison Watson and Margaret MacDonald