Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Chiloglottis reflexa identified (oops - C. seminuda)

Chiloglottis seminuda
Today I went back to my friend's property, near Bundanoon, where I had seen a slightly unusual "Wasp Orchid" (formerly known as a "Bird Orchid").

The reason for the return was that Gaye from the Hunter had suggested to me the other day that the photo I had put up was the same species as she had seen recently - Chiloglottis reflexa. I had suggested that my plant was Ch. seminuda, a species I had previously found in Kangaloon.

I had never identified that species, so that was a challenge I could not resist.
I had other reasons to go back too, but more about that in a few days time.

So, armed with my macro lens, and with some time available to me (I had previously been with a group, and I consider it is bad practice to take 20 minutes to line up a series of photos, with a bunch of people waiting for you). So, back I went, today.

The first thing I did was take with me all the relevant books I have. That's a start, I figured.
Then the trusty 10 power hand lens. That actually did the trick for me.
There is another feature, and that is, overall, this plant is more purplish than the other species, in the lateral sepals, and even the stem.
As soon as I found the plant (only one plant out of hundreds was in flower, so even finding the one flower took a little doing) I looked closely at the lateral sepals. They turned out to be slightly cupped along most of their length, until the last 1 cm, where suddenly they thickened up, into rounded "clubs". The terminology is not mine, but that used by the Orchid people. This species is now known as the "Short-clubbed Wasp Orchid" - Chiloglottis reflexa.

This feature is clearly visible in this photo, and the last photo (below), with my finger supporting the lateral sepals.
These plants were growing in tall Eucalypt forest, on deep sandy soil, over sandstone. Apparently this soil type is classified as "Mittagong Sandstone". There is deep leaf litter, where these plants are growing.

From this angle, you can see that the later sepals do not curl back under the labellum (as in my photo of 17 April), nor do they almost touch the stem, as they do in Gaye from the Hunter's photo.

Here you can see the lateral sepal on the right hand side (when looking at the plant) is relatively broad, and suddenly it tapers to a rounded point - the part described as "club-shaped". In fact the part just above my finger is in fact slightly "hollowed" (not flat, but curved, almost in a hollowed out manner).
DJW says: The word I was searching for was "concave".

I was going to ask you to trust me on that point, but I have gone back to the original photos, and I have been able to crop the image of the lateral sepal, at the place where the broad, slightly curved (concave) profile changes suddenly to the short, rounded "club" tip. This is a diagnostic feature of this species.

I know this sounds crazy, but don't blame me. I don't make the rules!

Now you know why Orchid enthusiasts need their 10 power hand lenses.


Gaye from the Hunter said...

hi Denis,

how fascinating !!

And your dedication is akin to my determination with fungi :)

I severely cropped the picture of lateral sepals of my *Chiloglottis reflexa* to find no resemblance of the 'club' tip of yours. But the picture I have does not determine this positively.

Trouble is, my books do not even feature the alternative, Chiloglottis seminuda. Did you get a photograph of the leaves of your specimen? Were their edges 'wavy' like that of the image in my blog entry?

As the flowers of my Chiloglottis species have finished, I will now have to wait til next autumn for a thorough examination now that I am more aware of distinguishing features - but I'll look forward to the investigation.

Thank you for sharing your knowledge and enthusiasm.


Denis Wilson said...

Ah well, we all have things stored away for next season, which we are waiting to see again. I understand completely.
My friend David Young was fascinated with your Spider and Mantis shots. He kept saying "nice framing", etc.
He has put a link up to your site, from his blog: "Focus on Nature".
He is a nutter for a good contrast in depth of field, as in some of your insect shots. He was especially impressed with the lilac coloured eyes of the Mantis.

The number of local bloggers about nature is slowly growing.



Col Bower said...

Hi guys,
I happen to know a thing or two about Chiloglottis, having worked on their pollination for many years. Looking at the photos, I have to say the original identification of Chiloglottis seminuda was correct. It is a very common species in the Robertson - Fitzroy Falls area on sandy soils, as well as in the Blue Mountains. Chiloglottis reflexa also occurs in your area, but less commonly. One place I know it from is beside the road going down Macquarie Pass, the first place you can pull over once you begin the descent (there used to be a short track going in which is now blocked off). The key differences between the two species are the 'head' of the pseudoinsect is quite erect in C. seminuda and bent more forward in C. reflexa. Also, C. seminuda derives its name from the naked outer tip of the labellum which has no glands or calli. In C. reflexa, the calli go right to the apex. Hope this helps. I stumbled onto this site while looking to see what Google would throw up when I searched on 'Chiloglottis'.

Cheers, Col Bower

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Col
A bit of expert advice is always welcome. Thank you for sorting this out.

As you can see from the discussion I was uncertain, at best.

I would be happy to discuss the finer points of Orchid identification with you, via email, if you don't mind.

peonyden At bigpond DOT com.

Denis Wilson

Jennwynn said...

Wow, these are great photos. Thanks for including your finger, some of us on other continents had no idea how small these were.

Thanks for the post!

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Jennwynn

For other readers, Jennwynn's blogger ID takes you to Topeka KS, which I assume is in Kansas, USA.

I stress the finger was holding out (and making clearly visible) the tiny little "clubs" (lateral sepals) of the Orchid flower. Its secondary benefit was for "scale" purposes.

Many of our Aussie Orchids are small - some are even "minute" in comparison with this one. But all are interesting.

Glad to have you call by, Jennwynn.