Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

More Ground Orchids

Today I saw an Orchid which was new to me. Clearly it is not rare, just it takes a lot of finding. Partly the trick is being in the right place, and at the right time. I have walked this area (on Kirkland Road, Kangaloon) hundreds of times before (well, some exaggeration, perhaps), but it is one of my regular spots in Springtime.

I have seen leaves of this plant (at left) before, without knowing what plant I was looking at. In fact I thought they might have been a little pink Lily-like flower called Schelhammera undulata which has a slightly similar leaf.

Well, today I realised that these leaves belonged to an Orchid called Turtle Orchid (what an awful name).

It is in a group of "Wasp Orchids", because of the relationship with a particular wasp which pollinates these Orchids, supposedly because of the resemblance of the glands on the "labellum" to the body of a wingless female wasp.

The official name is Chiloglottis seminuda.
These plants were growing on deep sandstone soil, in a damp forest, of tall Eucalypts. I am not exactly sure of the classification of this forest type.

The structure of the lip ("Labellum") is quite extraordinary, as it resembles an insect quite closely. Personally it looks to me like an ant has climbed onto the flower, but the name Ant Orchid has been allocated to another, related, group of Orchids, so that name cannot be used for this plant. But why Turtle Orchid?
Click on the image for a closer look.

Another Ground Orchid which I saw in a different area, two weeks ago, is the Dark Mosquito Orchid, Acianthus exsertus.

These Orchids have leaves which look quite a lot like the Helmet Orchids which I spoke about yesterday, but these are very dark reddish purple below. There were fewer of these Orchids here than in the other place where I saw them before, on Tourist Road. Clearly they are happy in shaded areas, in forest. Being small plants, with dark flowers, and very well camouflaged, they take a bit of finding.

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