Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Back to Blogging, back to Orchids

If you thought that I was not publishing my blog any more, I am sorry. My computer has a terminal disease, apparently. Hopefully my photos are safely stored on my external hard drive. But the unknown factor, at this stage, is whether my last 4 years worth of email files on the C drive of my old computer can be salvaged. Lets hope so. Meanwhile I am working on the CTCs computer, by myself, late at night. Many thanks, to them.
Meanwhile, lets get back to blogging about Orchids.
It has been a very poor season for the summer and autumn flowering Orchids along Tourist Road, Kangaloon, this year. January and February were very dry, when we had a terrifically hot burst of weather for 3 or 4 days. Now the small autumn -flowering Orchids were still underground when the worst of that weather occurred, but it has delayed their flowering season. We have had some mild weather, and some gentle rain (not like the places further north), which has encouraged some of the local Orchids to flower.
Anyway, there is one particular Orchid which I photographed last year, which has been the subject of some controversy, as to its correct identity. So I was hanging out for it to flower this year. Finally it has opened up.
This is Corunastylis apostasioides. It is related to the other Corunastylis and Genoplesium plants which I have shown this year, but it is significantly different from them in several respects. Firstly, it is massively hairy on both the labellum, and on the dorsal sepal (underneath the flower). Secondly, it does not reflex the lateral sepals, as the other species do. (Contrast these images with the images of C. sagittifera - below).
When seen from the side, this plant holds the later sepals at about 30 degrees below horizontal. The labelum reflexes up somewhat, but that is the highest part of the flower.
Here is a close-up of the labellum and the dorsal sepal. (Click to enlarge). The dorsal sepal is boat-shaped, underneath the labellum, but it is quite small, relative to the massively hairy labellum. The Dorsal sepal is also closely crowded with hairs, but they are not as long as the hairs on the labellum above.
Some of my Orchid colleagues suggested that the flowers I photographed last year were an aberration, not properly formed, or not properly opened, or were perhaps "past it". Well, here we have a fresh flower stem, with the lower flowers closed, the top flowers not yet opened, and two open flowers in the middle. In fact, last year I found a similarly "phased" presentation of flowers. So, at the risk of creating controversy, I am going to stick with my identification of this flower as the true C. apostasioides, as with my flowers from last year. I know it differs from the flower shown in the Jones book, but at the risk of embarassing myself, I simply ask if my plants are not C. apostasioides, then would someone kindly tell me what else they are? I fear the other flowers identified on the internet as C. apostasioides might in fact be C. fimbriata. The problem with this species is that the flowers seldom open, so are often seen in closed form, and when one finds a half-opened specimen (of another related species) it is tempting to consider that it is C. apostasioides. Although the flower stems are quite tall, (relatively speaking), at about 200mm
the individual flowers are genuinely tiny. I had stared at this flower for several moments before I realised there were two open flowers for me to photograph.
You may contrast the above flowers with the classical presentation of a Corunastylis flower. Have a look at this image of C. sagittifera, growing nearby to the plant above. The lateral sepals are wide spread, and held high. The labellum is dark purplish, and curves down firstly, then reflexes back at the tip. The shiny purple part of the flower visible in this image is the upper side of the labellum.
This image is achieved by pushing the flower stem, back slightly, (about 30 degrees off vertical) to show into the flower slightly. You can see the pollinia grains inside the column, within the dorsal sepal. The lateral sepals dominate the flowern (held high as they are).

This specimen was growing about 200 metres from the other species, and although the flower stem is not as tall (only about 150mm) the flowers themselves are about 3 times as large as C. apostasoides, an impression created mostly because that plant does not spread its lateral sepals, but holds them drooping down, somewhat in the style of the ears of a Brahman Bull.

1 comment:

mick said...

I am certainly not qualified to comment on the details of ID but I can say - great photos of tiny beautiful flowers! I hope your computer woes get sorted out soon.