Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hilltop and Thirlmere Lakes trip

After supporting the local residents of Hilltop in their opposition to the expanded Regional Shooting Centre at Hilltop, I went down into the Bargo State Conservation Area, to have a closer look-see in the bush down that way.

There were some examples of the lovely Eriostemon australasius in flower. This plant is a left over from a revision of the genus Eriostemon. Nearly all the others (if not all of the original members of that genus) are now classed as "Philotheca". This plant is known from other areas, but apparently the Hilltop to Thirlmere area is one of its strongholds. A lovely clear flower.

A related plant is the Boronia ledifolia. Boronias have 4 petals, the Eriostemon has 5 petals. But both are in the Rutaceae family. This is the first time I have seen this plant. It does not seem to be common south of Sydney. Both these plants were flowering happily at Hilltop, just near the proposed Regional Shooting Centre. Unfortunately I did not find any Orchids in this part of the trip.

So I decided to follow a lead I had been given by Colin and Mischa Rowan, and went a little further along the Bargo Road to Thirlmere Lakes. The weather was lousy. Overcast, damp and miserable weather, interspersed with steady rain.

Anyway, along Slades Road, I did find some interesting Orchids. In places, masses of them. This was my first visit to Thirlmere Lakes. I met a (former) German gentleman, who now resides in Stanthorpe, Queensland, and who is obviously a keen bushwalker. We passed a few interesting minutes chatting about the countryside here. He had been out at the end of the road which leads into the South Colong Wilderness (part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area).

Some of the Orchids which were in flower were these Chiloglottis diphylla plants. They have unusually shaped "clubs" which I found myself describing to Colin by email tonight as "like a pair of yellow slippers tucked under a bed". Odd reference, I know, but it seems a fair enough description, if you look closely at the pair of parallel yellow structures tucked horizontally under the dark red labellum.
In this image (a bit blurry, sorry, but I refused to lie down in the mud to photograph these plants more closely) you can see the clubs bent down, then forward underneath the body of the flower. Other Chiloglottis I have seen this autumn have their clubs bent out wide and backwards, or straight down. Also this one has clubs which are clearly yellow for most of their length. Previously published photos of Ch. seminuda and Ch. reflexa may be found at those individual links. Another intriguing plant group is these Greenhoods, which I am as yet unable to identify.Clearly they are a type of Greenhood, but what? Tiny thin buds, but very small. They are only on stems about 2 inches high. Even though they are not fully expanded, it looks like they are going to be only small flowers. A 20 cent coin is there for scale. I spoke with a local Macarthur Branch ANOS member, Wally Southwell about them tonight, but he did not know what they were likely to be (from my vague description over the phone). I have sent him several photographs, and hope to hear back from him.

I shall go back to check these plants again, to monitor their progress and to identify them. I shall report on how these plants develop.

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