Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Our best local Epiphytic Orchid

This is Sarcochilus falcatus - the "Orange Blossom Orchid".
The Robertson area is not well supplied with Epiphytic Orchids (Orchids which grow on trees). We do have a few, but mostly they grow very high in tall trees, and one only sees them when a tree blows down, bringing its "jewellery" with it.

In the case of the Orange Blossom Orchid, sometimes it is more accommodating, growing at about 3 metres above the ground. That is the case with this particular plant.In Robertson's cool temperate rainforest, this Sarcochilus likes to grow on Blackwood Wattles, but only on old trees which have developed a thick "coating" of the "Rock Felt Fern" (Pyrrosia rupestris). In this case, this is a relatively small tree, growing in a road cutting, so I could climb up the embankment to get half way to the height of the Orchids, then use the 300mm lens to get something approaching a reasonable image.
I was more or less on a level with the Orchid when I took this image.

This next plant is a "rescue" job, one which was on a branch which came down in a storm, and a friend of mine has tied it onto a small Blackwood, along with the root mat of the Fern. It is the third year it has flowered for her - so it is doing well.
Here it is up close.
These flowers are approximately 30 mm across,
and it is regarded by experts as a large-flowered form of this species.
The labellum is beautifully marked in orange with dark crimson stripes. That contrasts with the pure ice-white colour of the rest of the flower.

The plant gets its "orange blossom" name from reference to its sweet perfume. But I only saw this plant on a cold, windy night, and I was not conscious of any perfume. Perhaps on a warm, still, morning I would be aware of the perfume. The other plants, growing "wild" just down the road from my house, were too far away for me to be able to detect their perfume.

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