Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A new Orchid (for me) - Anzybas unguiculatus

Two weekends ago I was lucky enough to go searching for rare Orchids with Alan Stephenson, in the Shoalhaven area. We went out along the Nowra to Braidwood Road. Officially this road is designated as "Main Road 92". Locally, (near Nowra) it is known as the "Braidwood Road". It runs out past the Nowra Naval Air Base, HMAS Albatross, and eventually goes out to Braidwood.

The Nowra end of this road is extremely good - one is tempted to say too good for the traffic demand on it - and too good for the fact that in the late afternoon, the country it runs through is prime Kangaroo habitat.

The road runs through a mix of poor sandstone forest, tall Turpentine forest, and some wet schlerophyll (Eucalypt forest) before heading back into shallow soil (mixed Scribbly Gum and Banksia scrub) over sandstone as you head towards Tianjara Falls, on the way to "Sassafras" (the village, not the tree). "Google Maps" names this road "Turpentine Road" at that point (as linked above).

Anyway, Alan and Kirsten and I (all members of the Illawarra Branch of the Australasian Native Orchid Society) were taken into some of the side tracks off the Braidwood Road, and after some searching we found a number of these strange little Ground Orchids.

They are now called Anzybas unguiculatus (formerly Corybas unguiculatus)
The specific name means "with a claw" (see the "Dictionary of Botanical Epithets" (a veritable gold mine of a discovery, that one!). If such things interest you, I suggest you "bookmark it" immediately. In fact, from the derivation, it seems the name might be taken to mean the plant has a "finger nail". That works for me.This plant certainly has a covering, like a nail, over the labellum, which is long and tubular. Most dissimilar from the other members of the Corybas tribe I have seen, and from which it has now been "split" by Jones et al. (See explanatory note by PH Weston on the top of that page).

You can see the hooded flower, and the long open tubular labellum
in this pair of images below.
You can clearly see the opening of the labellum here.
Here is the botanical illustration from PlantNET.
You can see the hood or shroud over the top of the labellum
(on the right hand side of the image).
The central section of the flower is the labellum.
This is what the plant looks like, from above.
The two little whitish flares behind the flower are actually fairly distinctive. But depending upon the angle you are looking
they are more (or less) apparent. These plants were well protected by an army of these
yellow-striped Leeches which sought to draw blood from the three of us.
I know they scored at least from two of us. I itch like crazy from the bites of these creatures.


Gaye from the Hunter said...

What a fantastic little orchid, Denis. You certainly have some beautiful and strange orchids in the forests in your part of the country. I went fungi hunting today, and I had the same trouble with those awful big yellow-striped leeches.


mick said...

How nice to find an orchid that you had not seen before - and a little beauty too! The leeches are not so nice :-( And the itch they make is even worse!

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mick and Gaye.
Yes, it is always great to find (or more precisely) to be taken to an area where we would "find" these Orchids. Still, a first is a first, no matter who is driving the car.
Leeches are clearly not popular. Hardly surprising.
I find that spraying my boots and socks with insect repellent works well. So too does Tea Tree Oil diluted down somewhat in "Johnson's baby oil".
Trouble is, one must prepare in advance, and sometimes one forgets.

Wilma said...

Great find, that little orchid. I am very enjoying your photos and text, very informative and comprehensive.

I had an encounter with leeches (smaller that what you pictured)in Eungela (sp?) forest in Queensland a few decades ago. It is a long story, but the upshot is that my husband and I each wound up with at least 50 and they do itch like crazy for a week or more. I would do it again, though, to see the fungi and plants we were after.

older but no wiser,

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Wilma
Well done - "older but no wiser".
Most of us can empathise with that feeling.
As long as there are plants and fungi out there, then people like us will continue to go out in the forests looking for them.
PS I have never made it as far north as Eungella. Their Eungella Honeyeater is a first cousin to our Lewin's Honeyeater. My daughter has a friend who lives there, so one day....?

Rachel Dickerson said...

Hi, I found a yellow striped leech
simlar to the one you have pictured, the one I found was about 10 - 12 cm long. I found it under one of my pot plants,I live in Frankston Victoria is this uncommon as I have never come across one before. Thanks Rachel.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Rachel
I know that "leeches" are widely spread in the moist bushland of Australia. That means pretty much the entire east coast and presumably Tasmania.
If yours is similar to mine (yellow stripe or maybe red dots as well) then its pretty sure we are talking about the same creature
Gnatbobdellida libbata - the Australian Land Leech.
Just check that it is not a "Flat Worm". Check out the two images of flat worms on this page of my Blog. They are not dangerous to people - just other soft-bodied creatures (snails, and slugs).
Unfortunatley, there are few websites which deal with Leeches, it seems. They are closer to worms than insects.
I assume you are not pleased to find it under your pot plant. To get rid of it (or its cousins) you need to dry the place out. Leeches thrive in moist conditions.
To treat the area (if it is just a small area) try putting a ring of salt around the pot. Leeches just "dissolve" if salt is sprinkled directly on them. They bleed through their skin. Not pretty.
Better than fly spray, which probably won't work (because they're not got the nervous system of insects).
Careful not to add salt to plants, though. Not good for them either.