Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Nodding Greenhoods come into flower

Having searched for a while for new season Orchids, today I found my first local flowers of the Nodding Greenhood (Pterostylis nutans) for this season.

These plants were growing in dark sandy soil, on a raised bank, in a really well drained position (even though it is in a dense Eucalypt forest). We are talking about a dense Eucalypt forest in a high rainfall area, but this is by no means "wet forest" - the plants are growing in dry leaf litter on open ground.
These plants are low-growing, with short stems, (about 4 inches long, in "the old money"). From memory, that is about 10 cm tall.
Their leaves are small rosettes on the ground, with a slightly "crystalline" appearance. The leaves generally look a bit crinkled.

Just a few metres away from the Nodding Greenhoods, is a cluster of the Tall Greenhood (Bunochilus longifolius). They were growing in a steep bank, on the edge of an old excavated cutting (possibly a loading point used when the forest was being harvested for timber). The cutting is less than 2 metres deep, but its "aspect" seems to be important, for this species grows there, not on the more exposed flatter (and drier) position where the Nodding Greenhoods are found.

These flowers are almost transparent in parts, with a very distinctively hairy "labellum" which is creamy coloured, with a dark stripe down the centre. As has been discussed before, the labellum on these plants is sensitive to movement or touch, and "springs closed" (up inside the "hood") if triggered by the presence of a pollinating insect (a gnat or a mosquito).The side view of the lower flower shows the shaped "labellum" with its tip bent quite markedly. This species has been flowering around the district for some time.


Gaye from the Hunter said...

hello Denis,

I smiled as I read of your Nodding Greenhood find. I have seen them too - charming little characters. Your images are excellent and I enjoyed your observations very much. I took a 3km walk on Tuesday and photographed Greenhoods, but it was very windy and my photographic results were disappointing, but I did find at least two new (to me) species, quite possibly three, and I photographed 6 orchid species in all. It was a most enjoyable 4 hour walk.

Nodding Greenhoods have been out for a while here, and I have been surprised at the different environments I've found them in.

On 22 July I photographed some on moss over rock in a very exposed position. I found these 2 years ago and returned to check out the location again this year. These plants were no more than 6cm tall, (the same height as ones in the same location 2 years ago).

But the ones I found this week were up to 20cm tall and growing in semi shaded grassed wooded area, and also in permenantly shaded soil and leaf litter. The ones dark shaded leaf litter were only just beginning to open, whereas some of the ones in the wooded area had finished.

This demonstrates their variability (especially height), possibly according to environmental conditions. Most interesting.


Denis Wilson said...

Hi Gaye

Its always fun to bump into these little flowers again, after a year's absence. They look to be such "silly" flowers, almost upside down. I have never examined them quite so closely before - the curved "labellum" is protruding in such a position that an insect would have to crawl up inside the flower. One of the new books describes them as "Parrot's Beak" Orchids. Quite descriptive.

Keep enjoying your Orchids.