Christmas Bells

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Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Monday, October 12, 2009

Diuris chryseopsis (Common Golden Moth Orchid)

At last some of the puzzling pure yellow "Donkey Orchids". My blogging colleague "Junior Lepid" has been teasing me with the plants in the Grampians, including several Donkey Orchids which I have not seen.

So, I am pleased to be able to return the compliment, by showing a new species (for me) - Diuris chryseopsis, as far as I can tell (that's why I refer to them as "puzzling").
I was shown these flowers today, at Mount Rae, between Taralga and Crookwell, in the Southern Tablelands of NSW, about half an hour's drive north-east of Goulburn (1.5 hours driving time south from Robertson).

(Click to enlarge to see detail of the flower).
The forests of Mt. Rae are very different from Robertson. Mostly dense Eucalypt forest, with native tussock grasses, but relatively little understory shrubbery. It is a rare type of bush known as Basalt Tableland Forest. It is good country for Grey Kangaroos, Red-necked and Swamp Wallabies and Euros. More to my particular interest, however was the wonderful massed display of "wildflowers" on these hillsides, especially the Orchids.

Today I shall show you only the Orchids. I need to do some research on the other species I photographed, today.

Orchid seen from the rear - note the stripes.
It was drizzling today, and the flowers were wet.
But you can see how these flowers hold themselves in a flat manner,
instead of the more vertical form of the more common Donkey Orchids.
This earns this plant the name "Small Snake Orchid".
They look as if they are poised to "strike".
These plants are also known as "Common Golden Moth Orchids". Not sure why, except that they could (possibly) be interpreted as golden moths flying amongst the grasses.

This amazing display of these Orchids shows how prolifically these plants grow in some areas at Mt Rae. The soil was heavy clay, in a cleared paddock, on a slope.
This was completely amazing for me. It well and truly justified my journey - even on a damp day.

Thanks to the remarkably dedicated Mark Selmes for showing me these plants.

Lets hope that Mark can secure Mount Rae's forests from irresponsible logging of Australia's precious native forests.

In my view it is very important for Governments and bureaucrats and policy makers to understand that trees are not just "fuel" - they are habitat for plants and animals as well as holding together our precious, delicate and ancient soils; catching rain, and making Australia what it is.

If we destroy this Mt Rae forest (or others from one end of Australia to the other) then Australia will lose its distinctive and precious wildlife, (and wildflowers like these Orchids) as well as lose its precious identity.


Gaye from the Hunter said...

hello Denis,

I too have trouble identifying the 'Donkey Orchids'. I found my first of the season on Sunday, and will post them up soon.

I may have seen the one you post far from the Hunter Valley, but definitely not around here.

Thank you for posting this one up - it is a lovely thing. If you are able to put your finger on your other Donkey Orchid entries, I would be very grateful if you could please post up the links here or via email. Thank you kindly.


Junior Lepid said...

Hello Denis,

I'm pleased you finally got an opportunity to photograph these. They make a brilliant display, don't they?

The "Cowslips??" I photographed the other day were in an open area, not as heavily grassed as yours and probably more 'buckshot'environment(gravelly clay) than strictly clay.

I've been looking at more images of D. chryseopsis vs D. behrii. D. behrii does seem to have rounder lateral petals and striping on the outer side of the bottom petal. Absolute identification is too confusing for this orchid newbie!!

I hope your friend wins his Mt. Rae war.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi JL and Gaye
Thanks to both of you.
We are all in the same boat, it seems with the numerous Donkey Orchids (and their silly and confusing popular names as well).
Mine is variously "Snake Orchid", "Little Snake Orchid" and "Common Golden Moth Orchid".
None of these names does much for me. But, then again, neither does D. chryseopsis.
Gaye, I have another one yet to post, which I believe is D.pardina (Leopard Orchid). But according to the books, it only goes as far north as Orange, so it is unlikely to be yours, from the Hunter.
To both of you, if you email me deniswilson23(at)bigpond(dot)com with any photos and locations, I will do my best to sort out names before you publish.
Google Image Search for Diuris brings up lots of good sites, but some of them are clearly not accurate. Of course, it depends on which reference text the photographer uses.
That's why I like to stick with Colin and Mischa's because I know Colin and Mischa and trust their knowledge.
I assume you both know to "generalise" locations for Orchids you find and publish, as there are unscrupulous people out there in Orchidworld!
Hunter Valley (or even Barrington Tops) or Grampians is pretty general. Beware of getting more specific than that.

Junior Lepid said...

Generalise - absolutely!

Only the Dep't Sustainability & Environment know the area I am working because of my recent sighting of the orchid listed as "rare in Victoria" and they would need me to pilot them to the exact site, anyway! :-)

I am very protective - because of the idiots who love to dig plants up or wreck environments.

Denis, Colin and Mischa's site is always my first port of call. It's helped me a lot.

The link you left at my site today was useful. I found another page of "Grampians" orchids.

Denis Wilson said...

You need to learn who you can trust, and is not always the people one would think ought be trustworthy.
Glad that link was useful.
Some puzzling references to "Illawarra" in there, but I suspect names came from old documents where taxonomists had not yet allocated names, and identify new varieties by locality until re-named properly.

Junior Lepid said...

Denis, "Illawarra" was the location, I think, not taxon. Illawarra is slightly S/E of Lake Lonsdale, which is west of Stawell.

I try and check as much as I can, but generally refer back to Colin's site. You are right, there's a lot of trash out there, not only in relation to Botany, but Mycology and Lepidoptera as well. I can and do spend hours on research, as I'm sure many of us do. We want a name to the face and not all waters are clear-sailing!! :-)

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks for sorting out the Illawarra mystery.
Living on the edge of the real "Illawarra" (region in NSW) I was totally confused by that.
Re "trash" on the internet, why stop with botany, Lepidoptera and Mycolology?