Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Parsons Bands Orchids

This is a common little Orchid, which I quite like, but which I have always found hard to photograph. There is usually a depth of field problem with small flowers which have a large protruding section. Either the front is in focus and the rear of the flower is not, or vice versa.

So this Autumn, I vowed to try to overcome that problem. Click to enlarge the images.The first issue with these plants is the colour variation.
I cannot say if they change from pink to white, as the flowers mature, as I would need to go back and find a particular flower after a few days. Without a marking system, it is hard to know exactly which plant I had photographed 3 days before, or a week before. I confess I am not that organised.
So let me just say there are both pink plants and white plants (true statement). Whether flowers which start out as pink, fade to white I cannot say.

This plant flowers either without any leaf visible at flowering time, or with just a small leaf which develops more fully after the flower has finished. It is described as having a "ground hugging" leaf. This species has a green reverse side of the leaf. You can see that I am holding one leaf folded back, to show the green reverse side. In fact these plants have faint purple edge of the leaf, on both top and bottom. Click to enlarge image.This is my favourite image of this species. It is of a white form, from Tallong. It looks to me like it is holding up its little arms, saying: "Don't shoot".

You can clearly see the yellow pollen grains in the "column" just partially covered. There is an apparent "clowns mouth" (look for the "white lips") which is an opening leading to the nectar producing glands. You can clearly see the bead of moisture (nectar) in the column, in each of these 3 images.
The white lateral sepals are said to resemble the "collars" worn by once Clerics. Hence the name. This image of Charles Wesley's Clerical Collar might help people understand. Does it now look familiar? The two white protruding tabs are what prompted the name.This is Eriochilus cucullatus. There is another related species which I have not yet seen, but I hope to track them down. It is Eriochilus petricola (or E. autumnalis as it was once known). It has a leaf which is more fully developed at flowering time. That species apparently has a purple coloured reverse of the leaf.


mick said...

Those are particularly beautiful little orchids - but why 'parsons bands'?

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mick
I have added in an image of Charles Wesley's Clerical Collar. It has two protruding tabs, which appear to resemble the two protruding lateral sepals underneath the flower. It works better with the white form. Pink collars are not acceptable to most clergy!

Duncan said...

You've jogged my memory Denis, I'll have to get out looking!

Anna said...

And for a second I thought it was an insect. Excellent photos. Anna :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Denis, I was taking the orchid identification quite seriously until I read your comment about its "little arms" and then..... well it looked to be wearing a furry, fringed jumper and a little hat as well!
Lovely photo essay on another fascinating orchid and you seem to have overcome the depth of field problem.

Gouldiae said...

G'day Denis,
My reference says they can be pink or white.
You're right, that 4th image is a beauty, and I love the reference shot of the cleric's collar.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Folks
Sorry for slow response - I went away for a couple of days.
Barbara, I try to be more scientific in my descriptions, but sometimes I lapse back into the vernacular. I am wary of too much talk of "labellums" and Lateral Sepals, and Columns, which might not mean anything to the average blog-reader.
I have previously published several photos of different types of Orchids, with "parts" of the flowers labelled, if you think that might help.
You won't find any "arms" or woolly jumpers and hats there.
Many of the Ground Orchids are upside down from the Florist Orchids, and even that wonderful one you published last week. By the sounds of it, you probably have good reference materials yourself. Personally I rely on David Jones's books.
But have a look at this post:
Hi Gouldiae, thanks
Colin Rowan has since come back to me and said they do not change - they are either pink or white, not one fading to the other.
Hi Anna
Thanks for stopping by. You have some beautiful photos on your blog. Lovely birds and Moon shots, especially good. Nice baby too! I see Spring is coming to you now. Enjoy.
We are about to drop gently into Autumn here, but where I am it is not harsh.
I have a good friend in Nova Scotia who teases me about our pretend winters. Mind you, he has pretend summers!

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Duncan
It is worth looking in your area. They have just started up here, in the last week.
Our season has been delayed by a very dry February and March. Some plants seem to be flowering very weakly, and much delayed over previous years.
Similarly with the Tiny Greenhoods (Pt. parviflora group), which normally would be finishing by now.

mick said...

Thanks for adding the photo of the real Parson's Bands. The reason for the name is so obvious now - I guess my knowledge of the Parson's clothing was lacking :-(