I now believe*** I have found the true species - with fringed labellum and fringes on the dorsal sepal and petals as well (as it should have, according to the books).
*** I no longer believe that to be correct. This species is too dark to match the descriptions. Yet it has a fringed labellum and fringed dorsal sepal, but the purple colour is not right. I am still working on identifying this plant. DJW 6/3/08
A species formerly not known to occur
south from the Blue Mountains.
Now known to occur here (Kangaloon) and
in the Shoalhaven region (Cambewarra Mountain)
Contrast David's photo of today's plant (above)It definitely is in the same genus. But the plants are green with red stripes, not mostly purple as today's plants were. The individual flowers are even smaller (only 8mm across) than the one found today, which itself is tiny 9.5mm across (smaller than my fingernail on my little finger). Most significantly, it lack the hairy edges of the Dorsal Sepal - see below.
with my photo of the first plant, from two days ago (below) .OK, so what is this plant? I honestly do not know (yet).
(Identified since this was first located here).
Today's flower is on the left. And the other plant, lacking the obvious hairs, is on the right.I like this image, for it looks like the horns of a Billy Goat about to charge me. It is in fact the wide-spread petals which open up when the weather is right for these flowers to open their labellum out, to allow pollination to occur. The flower is still curved over The curved "labellum" is not yet fully open, (we are looking at the top of the labellum here). When the time is right, the labellum can be lifted (reflexed) right back out of the way. But it only does that for a very short period of time, it seems, and perhaps only on a single day. Today was warm and humid, and that seemed to suit these plants.
My friend David helped me photograph the minute distinguishing features of this plant. I promised him I would put up a link to an amazing photograph he took a few days ago, of the green eyes of a Robber Fly. The reason this subject came up is because while I was out in the field tracking down various specimens of these Orchids, today, I saw A Robber Fly carrying a relatively large insect. I tried to photograph it, but it would not let me get close enough. Then while I had a special macro-lens-adapter on the camera (for ultra-close-up work on these Orchids) I suddenly realised I had come across the Robber Fly again - still with its precious "Take-Away" meal of a Bee, firmly in its grasp, while sitting on the leaf of a narrow sedge-like plant. I managed to get a photo of it on my second encounter with it. Unfortunately, owing to depth of field problems caused by having the specialist lens adapters fitted, and my urgent desire to complete the shot before the Fly took off again, the photograph is poorly composed. Only the legs of the Robber Fly are in sharp focus (Click to enlarge the photo and check out the complex claws or pads on its feet).
I decided to publish the photo for the interesting event it records - a Robber Fly which is eating (sucking dry) a Bee. They fly with the victim held firmly (and safely) from above, where the Bee cannot sting the Fly. Still, a photograph to document what I saw is better than nothing. Although this is a poor photograph technically, it is a perfect companion to the story David published the other day, about how these Flies hunt, and carry their prey.
You ought to visit David's blog site to see his stunning photos of his Robber Fly. The details of the Fly's eyes, and hairy face and mouth are amazing.
These powerful insects remind me of the design of the Sikorsky "SkyCrane" Helicopter which was designed to lift and carry huge loads. If you are not familiar with the image of these helicopters, click here. You probably have heard of the Water-bombing Helicopter called "Elvis", used in Australia every summer to help fight bushfires. It is a variant of these planes.