Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Sunny Sunday of Sun Orchids

On Sunday the Illawarra Branch of ANOS came for a tour of the highlights of the Southern Highlands. The weather was perfect for orchid hunting. Hot, and sunny, and a bit humid. The Sun Orchids were out in force.

Of course, the schedule is not accidental, for the ANOS people from the Illawarra know this area very well, and have collectively been visiting here for some 30 years, so they know when is a good time. But this year, the weather really Gods smiled on them. So did the Orchids.

I have no idea which type of Sun Orchid this plant might be.
The perianth segments (petals and sepals) were strongly reflexed back.
The column is pale blue at the base, dark purplish-blue at the top,
with a white section at the front, where they are normally yellow.

Here is a small image (only 400 pixels high)
showing the column details.
The little fluffy bits in the front are called "column arms".
Different species of Sun Orchids have
different arrangements of column arms
as well as variations in the lobes at the top of the column.
This is my next "puzzle".
There is no plant that I can see in David Jones's excellent book
which I can match with this flower.
The flower was a light powdery blue colour, with just a hint of mauve wash.
The flowers are lightly veined.
The column arms are very fine, and are slightly upcurved.
There are no other branches or structures on the column arms
apart from the fine fibrous brushes.
The column hood appears nearly black,
but on close examination it is a dark reddish-brown.
There is no sign of any yellow - which is normal on the front edge.
Here it is in close-up.
Not a hint of yellow to be seen.
Very odd.
I will publish more images over the next few days of different species of Thelymitra (Sun Orchids) which we saw.

Any advice on IDing these two plants would be gratefully received.


mick said...

From a "non-orchid" person - they're beautiful without any names!

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mick
I agree - that's why posted these first of the many images to come.

Junior Lepid said...

Great finds, Denis!

I hope you track the species down. Even better to have a T. wilsonii!

Very interesting about the absence of yellow on the column.


Denis Wilson said...

These plants were all flowering together on the same sunny day - hundreds and hundreds of them, so you can see how a Bee could get confused and transfer pollen to a different species.
So hybrids and "oddities" are relatively common occurrences.
Time will tell if any of the Orchid experts can help with names, or these just get written off as more "oddities".

Gaye from the Hunter said...

Hello Denis,

fascinating Sun Orchids. I am finding some Thelymitra species at the moment in the southwest of WA, and even though I have books to refer to, I too am having trouble pinpointing identifications.

Your picture of the flower spider on the white donkey orchid is spectacular!


Denis Wilson said...

Hi Gaye
You are in the home of Orchids in SW WA.
William Archer has a blog about "Esperance Wildflowers" He does one species each day. He has 13 entries under Thelymitra.
His "labels" on the right hand side allow you to select by genus. Localised 200 Km readius around Esperance.
Top information if you are near there.
Thelymitra link is:
Copy and paste that entire link.
Species Orchids Society of WA (Inc)has a website.
Ron Heberle has a page on Thelymitras specifically.
Again, cpopy and pastew that link.
Enjoy your stay in the West.