Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Thursday, March 20, 2008

More on the Tiny Greenhoods

In order to compare and contrast these Tiny Greenhoods more precisely I have "matched and patched" the photos I have (so far) of the Green form of the Tiny Greenhood (which is the named species) Speculantha parviflora with the as-yet un-named local brown form. Both of these species are growing in Kangaloon.
You can see now, more clearly, the point I was trying to make yesterday about the different shape of the "hood" (the "galea"). The brown form is noticeably blunt in front. And the green species clearly has a more prominent shelf or platform on the "sinus" - the front of the flower, underneath the opening.

Having done that I decided to also "match and patch" another similar plant which I was shown near Nowra, last year.
Clearly there is work for the Orchid taxonomists to do here (click on the image to enlarge it). The Nowra form (on the far right) is browner (all over). But we know these plants can change colour as they age, so I would like to see these plants over the full duration of their flowering cycle. However, the "points" or "ears" are distinctively longer, and swept back (giving the flower a wind-swept look). These points are noticeably longer than either of the other species. Also the Nowra form appears to have a really flat front, but that might be an illusion, because of the angle at which the photo was taken.

Interesting stuff. These are tiny plants, but significantly different, when you get up close with them. I shall have to try to get better photos of them (from different, but comparable angles). Hopefully I can also get to see and photograph the Nowra plants again, too.


Gaye from the Hunter said...

hello Denis,

I have been enjoying your orchid finds of autumn.

I got out yesterday for my first spot of orchid hunting for this year, and I think I found the Tiny Greenhood, which is a new species for me.

I have not yet downloaded my photos, but after consulting my reference book, figured the Tiny Greenhood is possibly what I found.

Of course, then I consulted your blog. Your recording of your detailed observations have formed a valuable reference site, and I will be referring to it throughout the season to compare my finds with yours.

You are doing a fabulous job of recording the flora in your area. Thank you for this material that I will refer time and time again.


Denis Wilson said...

Hi Gaye

Great to hear you are getting out and about again. I look forward to seeing your photos, on your blog.

These little Greenhoods are easy to identify (in general). They are very distinctive from other small Greenhoods, because they are always very upright.

The other distinctive feature is the way the flowers are directed towards each other, or on taller stemmed plants, almost spiralled around the stem. They mature from the bottom flower first, by the way, so that helps work out any colour variation you will see.

As my blog shows, however, they are very variable, from green to dark brown. In height they seem to vary from 4 inches to 12 inches, but the flowers themselves seem to be very small, and snub-nosed. At present the ones around here are all just "lumped" under Speculantha parviflora.

David Jones has told me that they acknowledge different forms, which it is expected will be revised into different species, but at present the local ones (in southern NSW and Victoria) are all regarded as the one species. I do not have my Jones book with me at present, but he and also Tony Bishop's book have photos of some separate species, but none of them in this region have been named (yet). It might vary in northern NSW, not sure. I will check later.

Minor details to look for are the length of the "points" (or ears) - whether they extend above the flower or not. Watch out for age variation in the colour. In one post I put up 3 different colour forms - from the one plant, from green through to light brown. However, I have one population which starts out chocolate brown and fades through to reddish-brown.

The other main variable is the stem-leaves. My really small, brown ones have just the finest leaf bracts on the stem.Some tall green ones I have seen have inch long leaf bracts on the stem.