Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cymbidium suave near Carrington Falls

Deep in the moist Eucalypt forest along the top edge of the Upper Kangaroo Valley, south from Carrington Falls, I found a number of plants of Cymbidium suave in flower, today. This is the first time I have found them growing on the top of the local sandstone plateau. I have seen them growing at lower levels, within Kangaroo Valley itself, and on the Illawarra Escarpment.

This was hard country to walk in, because of the dense growth of Sword Grass (Gahnia sp.), and Pouched Coral Fern (Gleichenia dicarpa). None-the-less, the hard work was made worthwhile when we found several large clumps of Cymbidium suave in flower. The first two I saw were relatively high. Then I found two clumps growing at head height.Despite its name (meaning "sweet"), I confess that I could not detect the perfume, but one of the women members of the group, could detect the spicy fragrance for which this plant is named. I have been aware for many years that my nose is sensitive to certain types of perfumes, but not others. For example, I can seldom "get" the perfume of Violets, except when conditions are perfect. Today was very windy, and cold, so perhaps that influenced my inability to detect the perfume.

I have just spoken with Alan Stephenson of ANOS, (by coincidence - he rang on another matter) and he commented: "What pollinator would want to be out and about on a day like this?" Good question, Alan. In other words, there is no advantage for the plant in producing its scent in cold, windy conditions. It may as well save its energy (scent) for when the conditions are favourable for releasing the scent.
I was intrigued to notice that this low-growing clump, in a dead tree trunk, had its roots growing right down through the rotten core of the tree (inside the hard outer-wood). But where the hard wood had broken away (rotted away) near ground level, you could clearly see the old roots of the Orchid, which had grown right down through the rotted core of the tree, about 4 feet (1.3 m) down from the leaves of the plant. This habit is recorded in the literature as normal, but it was interesting to see.


Sunita said...

Interesting to see the Cymbidium growing wild. Even more fascinating to see it blooming.

Boobook said...

An interesting plant, worth the slog. Do you worry about snakes when you're pushing through the undergrowth? I get a bit toey.

Joe said...

Here is al ink to a page with links to additional stories and videos of Parrots of Australia:

I thought of you when I watched this special on PBS.

mick said...

Well worth a walk through difficult terrain to find such beautiful flowers, I would say.

Duncan said...

I would have loved to be with you and see those orchids Denis, we're pretty much restricted to terrestrials down here.

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Duncan, Mick, Boobook, Joe and Welcome to Sunita.
Duncan, if I had known to expect these Orchids.... If you ever feel like a trip, do let me know - there's usually something of interest either here, or down on the coast, near Nowra - an hour away. I'd be happy to show you around. This "find" was a surprise for me, but I know to look out for them in future.
I'll check your blog to see if you got any rain. TV News said some floods in Gippsland, but that's a very vague report from this distance.
Boobook I was wearing my Gumboots, but more to protect my legs from Leeches than snakes. Strangely I photographed on one a track through the rainforest about 10 Km away, on another property, after I finished this walk. I always wear boots and long trousers - ALWAYS. Sword Grass shreds you anyway, if not well protected.
Mick I would assume you get far showier Orchids. If you have coastal Casuarina stands, they are a very favourite host tree for Epiphytic Orchids. I was very pleased to find this one, though.
Cheers to all.

Mosura said...

Terrific find Denis.

Spectacular orchids and what an impressive root system.

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Mosura
I was impressed with the length of those roots too. I have seen similar behaviour once before with the Rats Tail Orchid growing underneath the bark of dead Casusarinas. That Orchid is a Dendrobium, (this one is a Cymbidium) but similar behaviour of the roots.
When you think of it, they need to get what moisture they can, how they can. So penetrating under bark makes good sense.
Also, the "Orchid Growers" use a mix which pretty much resembles the rotted core of this old tree.