Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Monday, October 26, 2009

Lyperanthus - both brown and yellow forms

Several days ago I received a phone call from a friend of mine, Jenny, from the Australian Plant Society - Southern Highlands Branch. She said she had seen an unusual Orchid near the Berrima Weir, and wanted to know if I was interested.
Was I?

Jenny sent me a photo taken by a friend of hers, and I was able to identify the plant as a yellow form of Lyperanthus suaveolens, known generally as "Brown Beaks". The yellow form is well documented, but it is apparently not common, except on the NSW North Coast.

We arranged to meet on Saturday afternoon, and Jenny took me along a track, to find the plants she had seen several days before.

Yellow form of Lyperanthus suaveolens
As she had seen them growing near some Diuris sulphurea, that helped us locate these yellow Lyperanthus, as the Donkey Orchids are really obvious.
Here is a cropped image of a single flower.
Well, not quite, but as the flowers grow closely together on a stem,
it is hard to separate them.
Click to enlarge the image.
The strongly pointed dorsal sepal
and the prominent downward curved labellum
are clearly visible when seen in profile.
***** ***** *****
Having found these yellow flowered forms of Lyperanthus, we decided to look around (it was a nice afternoon for a walk). I was actually hoping to find some "Caladenias" in flower, but there were none to be seen.

Anyway, we had only gone about another 200 metres when I spotted a bunch of the classic brown form of Lyperanthus suaveolens.

You can see the strong leaves of these two plants (growing side by side)
We were both tickled pink to have "completed the set".

This shot shows the front view and the more distinctive side-on view.
Front-on view of the brown form.
Here is a cropped image of the column and the warty-looking labellum.
The technical description is "labellum covered in small, sessile calli".
Here is the flower view in profile.
The dorsal sepal is narrowly hooded,
and distinctly upward sweeping.
Click to enlarge the image.
It seems this species is not "common" in the Southern Highlands. I have seen one, once before, several years after I moved to Robbo, but before I had a proper camera. Jenny had not seen this species for many years, and that was in the Heathcote area, apparently. Neither of us had seen the yellow form before.

All together a pleasant afternoon walk. It is always fun to find a new species, or at least an uncommon variant thereof.


mick said...

Very interesting looking orchids. I reckon you have as much fun 'hunting' - 'inching' - 'crawling' through the plants and dirt as I do sloshing and sitting in water to see the birds! :-)

Gouldiae said...

Nice One Denis,
You seem to be having a pretty good orchid season around 'Robbo' this year. As you say, always nice to come across something a bit different. Being new to orchid spotting, nearly everything I see is new to me. I think I must have walked around with my eyes closed until I met Duncan!
Love your stuff, great resource.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Gouldiae
Thanks. Yes it is looking like the best season we have had in many years.
I didn't think so , at first, as it was very dry over winter. But we have had some rain since August.
Some of them are not hanging around, though.
You have to be there on the right day, or they just disappear.
Duncan really knows his stuff, obviously. It is great to learn from someone as experienced as he is.
Also, it is apparent that he is prepared to share his knowledge.
That is wonderful.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mick.
You're right, I am sure we are each having lots of fun.
Mind you, your kayak looks a more glamorous way of getting around.
I do spend a bit of time on the ground, but as long as it is dry, I don't mind.
Getting to look right inside the flowers makes it worth while.
I am a bit of a details freak, as you have probably noticed.