Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Chiloglottis trilabra seen at Mt Rae

On Sunday I went with the Goulburn Field Naturalists to visit a property at Mount Rae, north-east of Goulburn. This hillside is heavily wooded at present, but its environment is threatened by proposed clearing for firewood. The guy behind the proposal apparently trades as the Firewood Baron. The property I visited is over the road from where the Firewood Baron is operating.

This matter has been debated by the Upper Lachlan Shire Council, and it appears that the environment might have had a win, but one wonders how long that decision will last? Lets hope it does hold up.

On the property which we visited, there is dense regrowth forest, with a mix of species of Eucalypts as the main trees. However, I was more interested in the birds and animals which have been found to live in this forest (we saw several Red-necked Wallabies, but Feather-tailed Gliders are known to be on the property).

But, did I mention Orchids? Of course there were Orchids. We found many plants of the Scarlet Greenhood (Diplodium coccinum).This plant is common on Mt. Gibraltar (The Gib) above Bowral. But it was also found on this property north of Goulburn, growing in long grass.

Of even more interest (to me) were several plants of Chiloglottis trilabra which I found growing on a moderately dry hillside on this property. I have never seen this plant before - it is always exciting finding a species one has not seen before. I had been told this plant grew on this property, but finding its small paired leaves on the ground, in a 200 acre property is something of a challenge. So I was pretty thrilled to track it down, growing amongst some patches of native grass. It is not exactly obvious.
Note the spider webs all over this flower. Spiders love orchids, for they know that small insects are attracted to Orchid flowers, and so the spiders hang out around the flowers, waiting for a meal. From the front one can see the glands which extend all the way to the tip of the labellum, which itself is pointed in the middle. The head of the "pseudo-insect" (the main gland on the labellum) is pointed down at the tip, and it is slightly divided, though less obviously so than in Ch. seminuda. The lateral sepals on this plant (the "clubs" which hang down either side of the labellum) are not reflexed - a point of difference from the other closely similar plant, Ch. reflexa.

Previously published photos of Ch. seminuda and Ch. reflexa may be found at those individual links.

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