These tiny flowers are so hard to see, and then, even harder to photograph. These are half-way down Macquarie Pass, hidden amongst dead branches, ferns, mosses and long grass, in an old clearing. even when you know to look for them, they are hard to see, and then their is the question of identifying them.
I long for the day (and this is the stuff of science fiction, I am sure) when one can insert a tiny probe into the leaf of the plant, and get a genetic (or should I say, a DNA) read-out which would tell me exactly which species I am looking at. And when that is available for these plants, then lets work on the Caladenias, and then the Greenhoods (Pterostylis group). And then the Persoonias, then then the myriad of "Eggs and Bacon" flowers, and then,,,,,,
Dream on, Denis.
This first flower is a definite identification : Myrmechila formicifera (Chiloglottis formicifera)
Note how the small glands extend all the way down to the tip of the labellum. This is quite a large image, and will open up well if you click on the photo. The detail is amazing. Contrast this image with the image of a different plant two below - possibly another species.Here is the same flower - from the side - showing the glands (pseudo-insect) and the steep angle of the labellum (the large section of the flower in front).
This is possibly a member of another related species - Myrmechila (Chiloglottis) trapeziformis. Note how the labellum of this plant is almost plain. But it does just have a few little tiny "bubbles" - so possibly, just possibly, this is an individual variation, rather than a different species. (Thus ruining my original title for this post).
I will reserve judgement on whether or not it is a separate species. The dorsal sepal is held higher than in the other flower, but again that might be a simple variation between individuals. My problem is simple. There was only one specimen of this flower out there, today. If I had found lots of them, all the same, I would know I was on safer ground declaring it to be a different species from the other plant.This front-on shot (below), is mostly of interest for the very small spider which ran up its web (on the right hand side of the flower) while I was lying down taking lots of shots (to ensure I got something in focus). It was a very small-bodied Spider, and as you can see (if you click to enlarge the image) it has quite long legs, which are banded in alternate dark and light coloured sections.
Spiders love Orchids, as they know that insects are attracted to the Orchid flower, and so Spiders hang out near the orchids - waiting for lunch. In this heavily cropped image (below) it resembles a "Daddy Long-legs", but in real size, it was considerably smaller than that, and its legs were so fine that they were virtually invisible (to my poor eyes, lying in the grass, in a dark rainforest). Its body (head and abdomen) were less than the size of a match-head. The whole flower is approximately 1 cm - (from tip to base). The "column" - the vertical part of the flower is said to be about 3mm wide (according to the books). That makes the spider a mere 3mm long, in body. That seems about right to me. Here is the same image, cropped, cut and rotated to make it easier to recognise. It appears to have relatively large white palps underneath what appears to be fairly large, dark eyes.One piece of good news is that these particular plants flower in winter/spring, whereas their autumn cousins flower when the weather is warmer, and therefore, when lying (prone) on the grass attracts great numbers of leeches and/or ticks. At least, at this time of year, I do not have to worry about those Creepy-Crawlies.
It is on its southern limit here, being shown as extending from Wollongong (just north from Macquarie Pass) to Queensland.
Here is something easier - a plant which exactly matches the text books. Pterostylis hildae the so-called "Rainforest Greenhood".This is the botanical sketch on the RBG PlantNET page. (No artist credit shown.)
You can see what I mean about it "looking how it is meant to be":
This is a perfectly formed flower. How nice is that? It hasn't been chewed by some slug or snail, or trampled by a clumsy Wombat, or dug up by a passing Lyrebird.