Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Thursday, November 05, 2009

More Sun Orchids from Sunny Sunday

Here are some more of the wonderful Sun Orchids which I photographed when on tour with the Illawarra Branch of ANOS on Sunday.

One of the few Thelymitra carnea (Pink - or Tiny - Sun Orchid) plants we found in flower. Most had long since been pollinated and were standing proudly with swollen ovaries (not yet ripe seedpods, but heading that way). That species is a very early flowerer.
This one is very pale compared to others I showed two weeks ago.Here is a close-up of the column (seen from above/front)
You can see that this species lacks the "column arms"
which many species in this genus have.
The prominent structure in the middle of the
encircling yellow bit - the "post-anther lobe", is the Anther.Here is the "Spotted Sun Orchid", Thelymitra ixioides
This plant is very common in Kangaloon along Tourist Road.
It is a strong growing Sun Orchid and the buds have a distinctive mauve tinge on the reverse of the petals, with a pale creamy edge.
Even when the flowers are closed they look lovely.
Here is the column of Thel. ixioides.
When Thel. ixioides and Thel. carnea are cross-pollinated by the bees they sometimes produce a natural hybrid plant,
which is common enough to have been named:
Thelymitra x irregularis - the "Crested Sun Orchid"
From the Thel. carnea parent it takes the yellow colour
(on the column top) but it still lacks "column arms".
From the T. ixioides parent it has this "crest"
- the fringed top of the post anther lobe
instead of the fleshy structure of T. carnea.
The spots, of course come from T. ixioides.
From the side you can see the unusual column arrangement,
the "crest" which helps identify this plant.
Here is the close-up view of the column from that angle.
And from above/front view you can discern
the shape of the full post anther lobe.
And now to complete the set,
here is a pink version of Thel. ixioides.
This plant is a colour variant of the true species, not a hybrid.
The colour is more reminiscent of the mauve/pink colour
I mentioned before as being seen normally on the back of the flower.
This one does have fewer spots than normal,
but again, this species sometimes produces plain flowers.
In other words it is incredibly variable in form.
But the column details show this is a
true member of the T. ixioides group
complete with white column arms and brushes.
That Pink Hybrid form seen above had no such structure
(reflecting its T. carnea parentage)
As I mentioned, the sun was shining beautifully on Sunday, and so many Sun Orchids were flowering closely together, cross pollination is almost inevitable. So hybrids and odd colour variants are relatively common in such circumstances.


Mosura said...

You've put me in the mood for some orchid hunting.

Denis Wilson said...

That's a good result, then, Alan.
Hope you find some.
I understand it has been very cold down there, so maybe you need to look for Snow Orchids?