Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Beard Orchids - two species.

Today I am posting two Beard Orchids, members of the Calochilus genus.
As a group they are really well named. No explanation of the name is required, unless one finds an aberrant form, with a naked labellum - but I am advised such naked forms are very uncommon.

The first is the relatively common local Purplish Beard Orchid, Calochilus robertsonii. There is another species around the Southern Highlands (sandstone soil areas), but I have not yet seen it this year. Calochilus paludosus the "Red Beard Orchid". It is known to flower later, right over the height of summer.
My Blogging colleague JL has recently seen this same species in Great Western, near The Grampians, in Victoria (not Scotland!)

This is my favourite image of this species. It shows the long "nose" which is the extended tip of the "column" - the cover for the pollinia of the Orchid. This image is taken in natural light, not with flash support. The colours are very reliable, therefore.
Here it is cropped, so you can see the details of the "long nose", which to me looks like a character likely to have been developed by Jim Henson, the creator of "The Muppets".
Click to enlarge image to see the details of the flower.
Here is another specimen, seen from low down and behind the flower to show the characteristic hooded shape of the dorsal sepal, and the very stiff, "flat" (not curved down) labellum. David Jones says it is "flat". Contrast this image with the botanical illustration on PlantNET.
Note the slightly dusty grey "bloom" on the entire plant.
This is a cropped version of the same image.
Here is a front-on view of the flower.
You can see the protruding tip of the column,
but it is less obvious than in the top image,
which is taken slightly from the side, to profile the protrusion.
The "sham eyes" are just visible. (Contrast that with the next species).

The second species is a first (for me). It is Calochilus campestris, (26.10.09 edited - from previously wrong Genus name. Ooops - Sorry. DJW) the so-called "Copper Beard Orchid". I saw this in the Royal National Park a week ago. It was growing with a group of Diuris aurea. These plants were growing beside the road in a sandstone heath area, on a ridge, about 3Km past the NPWS Visitor Centre at Audley.

Here is the head of the stem, showing a number of flowers and buds.
The colour is true, and as such it calls into question the usefulness of the "common names" used, red, purple, purplish, copper etc for the various species.
One has to go on shape of the flower, the dorsal sepal angle
and the details of the labellum and column.
Here is a flower stem.
It is quite tall, with a large number of pollinated flowers
(some ten flowers with swollen ovaries are visible).
Here is the first cropped image of the flower, from the side,
showing the shape and colour of the beard.
The hooded dorsal sepal is also evident.
A more direct view.
It highlights the protruding tip of the column
(which I tend to think of as the "nose" - but of course that is not right).
Here is a flower fully open, with all the details visible.
It is interesting that the upper "calli" the "beard hairs"
are dark purplish, but the lower ones are yellowish-green.
Those calli appear to be covered with a powdery, mealy substance.
The labellum is much wider and shorter than the previous species.
Here is my favourite image (of this species).
I have nick-named this image:
"Echidna face"
Here is proof that despite their apparent weird design,
these flowers are fully functional.
This flower has two large dobs of the creamy white pollinia
(from another flower)
which have been deposited by an insect on the column of this flower.
That's how their pollination system is meant to work.


Tsun-Thai Chai said...

Hi Denis,

That's the most unusual-looking flower I haven't ever seen!

And "Echidna face" is the one I like the best!


Denis Wilson said...

Hi Chai
Thanks. Echidna Face is my favourite too.
In fact, I am now persuaded to put it up as the "masthead" on my Blog. I'll give the Rosella rest.
I found this Orchid just after I left you and Mark.
I went back to the NPWS Office and bought some guide books and maps, and decided to explore the Royal NP on my way home. I found this just up the road.
Incidentally, they got a bucketing (of rain) there yesterday, and Audley Weir is closed today - the road is under water.
When it rains in Sydney, it can really rain heavily.