Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A sea of Purple Flowers.

The wonderful purple-flowered Pea plant Hardenbergia violacea, is in magnificent flower, down in the sandstone-based tall Eucalypt forest, in Kangaloon. This plant is known locally as "Sarsaparilla" (not a good name, for that is an American plant, totally unrelated to this plant).
This plant is a low creeper, spreading all over the ground, and in some patches, it is growing up over other plants and shrubs.I was down there, at Kangaloon, to check out the haunts for Ground Orchids. The first Orchids I found were these Tall Greenhoods (Bunochilus longifolius). I had seen these plants in flower first, about 6 weeks ago (from memory). So, I was surprised to see these flowers in full bloom. These plants are semi-transparent, and when photographed with flash, you get this green-glass effect. Lovely plants, with their sensitive tongues (labella) all poking out, with the little tips turned up at the bottom. I kept browsing, for I was looking to see if the local "Ladies Fingers" (Caladenia group) were yet in flower. I saw a few buds (very hard to find, for their leaves are thin, and grass-like). And then I found one. A single flower of Petalochilus carneus (formerly Caladenia carnea).
So much bushland, and just one flower. I am sure in a week, there will be hundreds, then thousands.

On the way back to the car, I diverted across the road, to an area I have not searched in 12 months or more, and suddenly here were the Ant Orchids in flower. Across the road, I had seen hundreds of leaves of related plants, with no sign of flowers there. I was convinced that they must be the autumn flowered Chiloglottis (closely related plants). But suddenly here were lots of plants in flower.

Is this area warmer; and will the plants on the other side of the road start to flower in 2 weeks? Or, are the other plants indeed a different group of related plants? I will know, only when the others start to flower. I cannot tell them apart just by their leaves.

Anyway, this plant is a very clear specimen of the Common Ant Orchid which I had seen a few days before, at Macquarie Pass. Myrmechila formicifera. The group of glands ("calli") are showing all the classical identifying marks - the head of the "pseudo-insect" is doubled, and the smaller glands spread right down to the tip of the Labellum.
Tickled pink, I walked out of that little cluster of flowering plants, heading back to the car. And I nearly stood upon these plants. This is a really clearly identifiable form of the related plant the Diamond Ant Orchid, Myrmechila trapeziformis. This flower is photographed from above, to show the clear bottom of the labellum, which distinguishes it from the species above, in which the glands spread down to the bottom of the labellum.
In this case, there was a small cluster of identical plants, so that makes me more confident that these are good examples of the true species.

1 comment:

Gaye from the Hunter said...

hi Denis,

interesting orchid observations. I have seen the blue, white and pink 'ladies fingers' flowering in profusion for quite a few weeks now in the two bushland areas that I wander.

I haven't been out for a while, but am anxious to go looking for more ant orchids and the Glossodia major (wax-lip orchid) that you featured recently. I found only two specimens, both very poor.

I am also anxious to have a trip to the rainforest to look for epiphytic orchids that should be flowering now.

Keep an eye out for Pt. mutica (Midget Greenhood) on your rambles. I found it just beginning to flower about two weeks ago.

Happy orchid hunting :)