Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Sunday, November 01, 2009

A rainforest rock Orchid on the Plateau

Sarcochilus olivaceus is a plant which I have previously only seen in wet rainforest gullies, deep within the Shoalhaven Valley. And I have only seen the leaves, not the flowers (previously).

So, when exploring a gully just on the edge of the Upper Kangaroo Valley, near Carrington Falls, several months ago, I recognised the leaves of this Orchid. It was growing on moss-covered rocks in a dark gully, close to a small waterfall. It was, in a geographical sense, at the "top" of the Plateau, NOT down in the valley (a more natural habitat for it). Technically, it is just below the sandstone scrub on top of the plateau, but the gully is marked by creek-bank trees, such as Coachwood, Possumwood and some huge specimens of the "Water Gum" (Tristaniopsis laurina).
The flowers of this species of Sarcochilus are held semi-pendantly.
The bright reverse of the flowers are flat,
leaving the flower "face downwards".
The manner of its presentation of flowers is very different
from the relatively common Sarcochilus falcatus which holds its flowers
open and facing outwards.

Inside this gully, below a 15 metre waterfall, there are many rocks thickly covered with soft mosses. On one particular rock there are 3 plants of Sarcochilus olivaceus growing. This plant is called the Green Tree Orchid, but my specimen is growing in moss on rock. In fact, I have only ever seen it on rocks, elsewhere in the Shoalhaven Valley system (which includes the Upper Kangaroo Valley - where this plant is growing).

This flower has been lifted up from its semi-pendant position for viewing.
The "cup-shaped" Labellum is very prominent in this view.

One of the plants had several sprays of flower buds on it, when I first saw it, several months ago. Eventually the buds opened this week. It has taken me three separate trips to this site to find it in flower.

The parts of the flower are labelled here.

From the side, the sharp angle at which the labellum is held is obvious in this photographic angle. You ought remember that in nature, the flower is pendant, with the green back of the flower uppermost. That would mean that the labellum would be at the bottom of the flower, and basically, "upside down".Here is another flower, seen more or less in its natural position
- as a pendant flower.
You can see what I meant about the flower being more-or-less upside down.


Mosura said...

A nice find that one!

Congratulations on the first post of the second thousand.

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Allan

Yes, I did think of it, as you said as the next step onwards towards 2000.
That Orchid took 3 trips down a gully before I got the photos, so it was all the sweeter as a result.
Thanks for commenting.
I hope you are well.
Pleased to see you posting again, too.