Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Bonnet (or Tartan) Orchid

When I was with Alan Stephenson, the other day, down the South Coast, I commented to him that I would like to photograph the Bonnet Orchid (also known as the Tartan orchid) - Cryptostylis erecta.

Easily done, said Alan. We pulled into a park which runs along a creek within the built-up area of Ulladulla, and we walked along a very wide "bike path". Sure enough we came to an area where the growth was not "creek gully scrub", but rather typical Spotted Gum and Turpentine forest. Huge trees, and not much undergrowth. That's where we found the Bonnet Orchids.
This particularly tall leaf stood out noticeably.
There is a bent stem, with flowers, but one tends to see the leaf first.
This is what the full stem looks like.
From low down, you can see why this flower is called the Bonnet Orchid.
And the other name "Tartan Orchid" is also appropriate.
These plants typically grow in clusters close to the base of huge gum trees.
The theory is that in light rain or misty conditions,
rain is collected by the tree, and runs down the trunk.
These plants will not flower this season - maybe next year.
Remember where you saw them, and check again this time next year.
These upright leaves are typical of most Tongue Orchid species.
In this case they are green on the upper surface, and maroon underneath.
They are not as dark on the underneath as the "Small Tongue Orchid".
Check this image to see what I mean.

According to David Jones' big book, these plants are "widespread and common; occurs in rainforest, wet and drier forests, Wallum communities and heathland, locally common on coastal plains and headlands, among grasses, sedges and low shrubs"

Distribution: Qld (n to Kroombit Tops); NSW; Vic (e). Altitude 0 - 600 metres.

Mick, sounds like this is probably in your area, especially the Great Sandy National Park - from what you showed us last week.


mick said...

Hi Denis, very interesting post and I am sure there must be lots more orchids in the Park than I am aware of. I was talking with someone the other day about the GSSNP and they mentioned in passing that years ago they had walked through there with an orchid enthusiast who showed them lots of different species in the park. Their other comment was that you must know how to look for orchids!
I love the look of those Bonnets - a very apt name.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mick
Well, as with watching Waders, there is a "knack" to it.
But it is not that hard.
We refer to it as "getting your eye in", and it differs for various types of Orchids and habitats.
It is a question of looking for the right "shape" - usually a leaf, rather than a flower. Some leaves are obvious (like the Christmas Orchids yesterday). In this case, the vertical leaf is a give away. Leaves only 6 inches high, often less. But distinctive once you spot your first one.
At least you don't need any fancy equipment, like Kayaks, to go Orchid watching.
In the case of Bonnet Orchids, look around the bases of large trees, at first.
But I was intrigued by the mention of the Wallum, as well. You have that around there, I have read. So, in that case, they will be in the heath, away from large trees.
Get your Orchid expert to advise you (again).