Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

More Greenhoods from Macquarie Pass

Macquarie Pass is the link between the Southern Highlands, at Robertson, on high basalt hills (750 metres) and the coastal plateau, at Albion Park. This is 30 Km south from Wollongong, and 20 Km from the ocean (which is on the far horizon). The Pass goes from sandstone clifflines, directly at the top of the Escarpment, then through a series of shelves, over different soil types - initially sandstone, then in places, soil derived from shale. It is sub-tropical rainforest country, but it varies from tall Eucalypt forest cover with rainforest sub-story, to classic rainforest vegetation in the wet gullies. The soil in the rainforest is, of course, heavily enriched by humus.

Cabbage Tree Palm flowering in a deep Rainforest gully, below the track.
Eucalypts in the foreground. Dense rainforest trees further back.
The Ground Orchids which occur here grow in little open patches, and along track edges - usually in patches of short grass, or native herbs, or Club Moss. Sometimes the Orchids grow in bare soil along exposed excavations and naturally occurring disturbed soil patches where huge trees have come down, tearing out rocks and leaving bare soil exposed.

Pterostylis curta - with diagnostic twisted labellum
The "column" structure is visible at the back of the Galea (hood).
The Pollinia is visible still in position.
Pt. curta - rear view.
Note the wide, almost bulging, shape of the hood.
Pt. curta - rear view - a heavily coloured flower.
This one has a particularly wide hood.
A group of Pt. curta showing how widely bulging their "Hoods" are.
Maybe this shape accounts for the common name "Blunt Greenhood".
Pterostylis hildae, the Rainforest Greenhood.
It is similar to Pt. curta, but is finer in features, and more honey-coloured.
It has a straight, not twisted labellum.
Pt. hildae - rear view.
Compared to Pt curta, it is less swollen at the base,
and definitely less bulging in the hood.
Pt. hildae - from side.
A classic shaped specimen with fine pointed hood
and honey colour.
Another specimen of Pt. hildae, with slightly less pointed hood.
Its labellum is just visible, but was straight, not twisted.
It does not have the bulging sides of the hood of Pt. curta.
A group of Pt hildae.
A possible hybrid?
This has the general shape of Pt hildae,
but the colour is indicative of some Pt. pedunculata influence.
These three species from yesterday and today's postings were growing together
within a metre diameter circle.
Front view of the same plant.
The front of the flower (the lateral sepals) have an unusual reddish colour,
Is this indicative of possible Pt pedunculata hybridisation?
(Pt hildae, and Pt curta both have some honey/brown colour on the hood,
but the front of the flower, is always green).
Compare with yesterday's image of the front view of Pt. pedunculata by clicking here.


Mosura said...

Nicely illustrated orchids - as always!

Denis Wilson said...

Gosh, Alan, that was quick.
I only just published it.
The one marked possible hybrid is interesting. I have never seen such a plant before, but Pt. pedunculata is recorded as hybridising - usually with Pt curta.

Duncan said...

I'm with Mosura Denis. Looks as if curta is not going to flower in at least one of its spots down here, drew a blank with grandiflora also, due to the dry I suppose.

Joe said...

I like the Wollongong horizon shot!

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Joe
You would like that shot - it has a very tropical feel about it.
The Palms are natural, but the early settlers cleared the other trees and left the palms - which transforms the appearance to what we all associate with a "tropical paradise" feel.
In reality the area is a wet, dense forest, with some palm trees dotted through it. As is apparent in the third photograph. Of course, this patch was cleared for farming purposes. A dream which was not successful. But it does look very pretty. There is a large ruined 2 storey stone farmhouse behind where I took that shot. It would make a wonderful film set.
Glad Hurricane Ike by-passed Florida.
Thanks for the other comment too.