After the better than usual rainfall in winter, spring and early summer, things have certainly dried up and the conditions have not been conducive for our early autumn orchids. The ground appears hard and one wonders how the tiny ground orchids can make their way through the inhospitable dry earth.
However, the three species of Midge Orchids, Corunastylis sp. that are found in our area continued to flower during February and early March. A few larger specimens of the Sharp Midge, Corunastylis despectans, appeared on Bald Hills Rd, and we were surprised with the number of Fringed Midges, C. ciliata, that appeared on Forest Rd.
Sharp Midge Orchid
Fringed Midge Orchid
However, they were small specimens and very short-lived. We only managed to find two decent flowering stems remaining on the ANGAIR nature ramble on March 8. The Bearded Midge, C. morrisii, our commonest species, is still flowering on a number of sites and there are some very strong specimens despite the recent dry conditions.
Bearded Midge Orchid
Parson’s Bands, Eriochilus cucullatus, which are usually flowering well at this time of the year, have been observed in very small numbers, and the flowers have been very small. Hopefully the rain we had last weekend will encourage more of these orchids to appear in the next few weeks. Please let us know if you come across them.
Parson’s Bands Orchid
The Large Autumn Greenhood, Pterostylis ampliata, is starting to flower. We would love to find more of these large attractive greenhoods as the majority we know about are on private land in Aireys Inlet where I found three in flower today. They used to grow well at Gum Flat Road and we have a small colony on Allardyce Track.
Large Autumn Greenhood
Keep a watch out for Brown Tipped Greenhoods, Pterostylis clivosa, and Tiny Greenhoods, P. parviflora, that will soon be in flower. Mosquito Orchids, Acianthus pusillus, and Autumn Bird Orchids, Chilogottis curviclavia (formerly reflexa), will also soon be starting to appear.
We recently visited the site on Messmate Track where Fringed Hare orchids, Leporella fimbriata, used to grow so well. Unfortunately, most of this site was lost due to the roadworks on Coalmine Road. There is a small area which may not have been disturbed but as yet there was no sign of the distinctive flat, green, elliptical leaves with red veins. Perhaps they are waiting for the next lot of autumn rains which we hope will soon be forthcoming. This species does grow in other areas so we need to document the colonies carefully.
Fringed Hare Orchid leaves
With the loss of so much habitat it is more important than ever that we have accurate orchid records so please let us know of your orchid discoveries. All our species are documented and photographed in Orchids of the Anglesea District available from ANGAIR.