Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Rare Greenhoods, and unusual Wasp Orchids.

The famous Illawarra Greenhood is in flower again, in the Southern Highlands.

This Orchid has a very restricted distribution (according to the listed references), however, some of these plants are growing out of the normally reported habitat. Obviously, for reasons of protecting this species from being wiped out by illegal collection by Orchid "enthusiasts", I will not reveal their locations.

But I can show you some of these lovely plants in flower.Beautifully formed "points". Often these points get bound by spider webs, and fail to stand up correctly, but this one is perfectly formed.
The "Labellum" is notched, and quite red.
Here it is in profile. A lovely plant, as I am sure you will agree.

The second group of Orchids I wish to show you belong to the Wasp Orchids (Chiloglottis). These are tiny flowers, less than 2 inches (50mm) high (flower and stem). This is Chiloglottis sylvestris, which is on the southern-most extension of its range, here at Robertson.
Chiloglottis sylvestris - standard (red) form.
Here is one in bud stage, just about to break open. You can see on the left hand side the spotted section of the base of the column, which is clearly visible in the image above. The central section of the "wall " of this bud is one of the two petals, which fold down beside the stem of the flower, when the flower is open. The Lateral Sepals (on the right, in front of the flower) are just separating out, and when the flower opens, they hang down as the two thin "clubs"below the Labellum. The pointed top of this bud, is of course, the top of the Dorsal Sepal, which sits prominently above and behind the Column, when the flower is opened out.

And here is an even rarer Green form of this same species. Effectively these are "albino" plants, lacking the red pigment of the standard form. These green-flowered plants were growing in a patch, all together, but there was one red-flowered plant amongst them.

The glands on the Labellum have a distinctive shape, with the head of the "pseudo-insect" being quite long and narrow, not heart-shaped as the other more common local species of Chiloglottis. (Click to enlarge image.)

There is an "Observation Test" in this image.
See answer 2 images below.
Here is another view.
This next image is the answer to the "Observation Test".
It is a tiny, tiny Mite. There were several of them wandering around the flower.
As often happens, I did not see this Mite in the field,
but only found them when I developed the images.

If you go back to the image 2 above, and click on it, you will see tiny webs strung between the "clubs" (the parts of the flower hanging below the Labellum). Those webs would be used by the Mite for travelling around the flower. They do not use their webs to trap prey, as their relatives (Spiders) do.


mick said...

Beautiful flowers and really great photography - again!

Duncan said...

That is a lovely greenhood Denis, the notch in the labellum shows well. Very poor orchid season down here due to the dry, some species didn't show at all.

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Mick
I really enjoy getting "good" photos of these plants. Hate to tell you how many I took of the Wasp Orchids. It is dark in the thicket where they grow, and I was lying down, trying not to get too damp, and peering at each image as I reviewed it, and going back to try yet again, and again. They are so small, it is really hard to get a good image.
The Greenhood was easy. But it is such a lovely flower - perfectly balanced. One of my favourites.
Glad you appreciated the photos.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Duncan
Thanks. I was very pleased that the notch showed up as well as that.
It is a diagnostic feature, of course. I mean other Greenhoods also have similar notches or forked labellums, but, when taken all together, the notch separates it out from other similar species.
Hardly surprising that your Orchids are not showing, really. Lets hope for some rain, for you guys - but NOT a flood, like some of you got last time round.