Firstly, an update. David Jones, the CSIRO Orchid specialist from the Australian National Herbarium has told me that the little Helmet Orchids I had located are in fact the relatively common Corybas aconitiflorus. While they are much smaller than standard, David thinks that these flowers may develop to a larger size, as the flowers mature. I shall monitor them, and advise in due course. This flower is a mere 5.5 mm front to back.
I like the little "forked tongue" which is just visible emerging from underneath the hood of the flower. You need to click on the photo to see that detail, but when you see it, it is quite delightful.
It reminds me of a wonderful photo of another "forked tongue" taken by David Young, and put up on his blog. When you think about how fast the movement of a snake's tongue is, and that this snake is a mere hatchling, and so is quite small, how good is that photo?
Now, don't take my word for it, but this tiny ground Orchid is called "Freak Midge Orchid" (Corunastylis apostasioides). *** It has been re-classified from the Genoplesium genus to the Corunastylis genus. Here is a link to an antique botanical print of this plant. This link is to further prints by R.D. Fitzgerald, Deputy Surveyor General of NSW, and a botanist, artist and poet. Apparently, Fitzgerald was one of those "well-rounded men" of which the Victorian era seems to have had a plentiful supply.
The flowers of this particular Orchid barely open at all. They have a system of self-pollination which makes insects irrelevant in the process of their fertilisation.
That process is called "apomixis". Many other ground Orchids have this ability of being "self-pollinating", as do a number of other plants. But most Midge Orchids do open normally for insect pollination, so that presumably warrants the name of "freak".
* I have since been advised that my flower is most likely to be Corunastylis fimbriata, which species does open normally, and is pollinated by insects. It seems that my specimen was most likely to be just one that had finished flowering already, and had closed, after being pollinated. That's what experienced Orchid people tell me, anyway.
*** Update. I was right after all. In March 2008 I found open flowers of these plants, and established that they are C. apostasioides after all. See my post of 15.4.2008 for a review of the local members of the Corunastylis genus.
Here is another Greenhood. This is a more "conventional" type, being green, for a start, not minute, and brown or the large and beautiful reddish or rust coloured, as with some others I have shown recently.
This is Diplodium obtusum, the "Blunt-tongue Greenhood", which occurs from Taree, NSW to Bowral, so this would appear to be close to its southern-most distribution. It has a distinctive broad "lip" underneath the hood. The "ears" are very fully formed too. Click for a larger view.
This was growing along Tourist Road, Kangaloon, in a patch of wet shaded forest. It was flowering on 28 March 2007, but there were a few others flowering there yesterday.