Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Nowra orchids

Yesterday, in order to escape from the low, misty, wet fog of Robertson, I rang Alan Stephenson and proposed that we go out looking for Orchids down his way. I had already checked the Bureau of Meteorology's Radar images website to establish that it was not raining down the coast. Alan was thinking of going out anyway, it seems, so he kindly waited for me until I got there.

After a couple of dry runs in areas where Alan had seen some Orchids last year, we returned to a favourite spot of his, and we found many Orchids in flower, and far more species just leafing up, preparing to flower later in the season, or in Spring.

Relevant to the recent discussion on the Tiny Greenhoods, is this picture. This is the very first flower to open in this little colony of these Tiny Greenhoods (Speculantha sp. nova affine parviflora). It is primarily a green flower, with brownish tips. Last year, late in May, I happened to photograph the very last flower in this same colony of Tiny Greenhoods. It was nearly totally red-brown. So this would appear to confirm that these flowers change colour as they age. Note that, as this flower is just developing, the "points" or "ears" are already quite long, but not opened out yet, but are curled around the top of the flower. The "ears" are there, and are relatively long - much longer than the similar plants at Kangaloon, but they are not yet free standing. I expect that to happen, as this flower matures (compare the red-brown flower of the same species, below).

I know that the related Tiny Greenhoods in Kangaloon open with dark brown tips and change to reddish brown tips. However, in the last flower from last year, virtually the whole flower was reddish-brown. I shall make the trip back to this location several more times over the season, to monitor any colour change in these plants. This is the Nowra form of the Tiny Greenhood. Same species, just at different stages of development.Another Greenhood in flower in the same area is Pterostylis hispidula. It is generally similar to the "Nodding Greenhood" (Pt. nutans) except that its flower is generally held more horizontally. Pt. nutans is often very short in the stem, with the flower virtually down amongst the leaf litter (sometimes taller, though), whereas this flower was at least 200mm off the ground.
You can see the labellum clearly pointing down, under the flower. It is noticeably hairy. The brownish point of Pt. hispidula is also distinctive.

Alan also found a single flower of Pterostylis acuminata the "Pointed Greenhood". This particular flower seemed very pale.
The sinus is very open (separated from the "galea") and the labellum protrudes prominently. It is a hard, waxy-looking organ, and clearly shows a brown strip along its length. On this specimen the "points" are nicely held, even though from the rear, they looked wavy. The tip of the galea, (the dorsal sepal) is very long (hence the plants name), but of course, in Greenhoods, there are many other plants with a far longer tip of the hood. The pale brownish tinge to the colour of the tip of the hood is also a valuable identifier.

Thanks to Alan for showing these plants to me.

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