Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Orchids from the Shoalhaven wet gullies

By contrast with the Orchids from yesterday which grow on dry Sandstone ridge country (well, not really dry, because of the relatively high rainfall, but well drained at least), today I will show a few Orchids from a mere 10 Km away, but in a totally different environment.

Budgong Creek can be accessed via the Budgong Fire Trail (off the Tallowa Dam Road in Kangaroo Valley). Yesterday it was pretty rough, I must admit. There is a better road up and over the ridge of Mt Scanzi - which road leads off the Tallowa Dam Road closer to Kangaroo Valley; or if one is coming from Nowra, turn off the Highway at the Shoalhaven River, and follow Illaroo Road.

Anyway, in the deep gully there, the forest is a combination of Eucalypts, Coachwood and some Grey Myrtle (Backhousia myrtifolia). The rocks in the edges of the gullies there are coated in moss and lichen and various native creepers, including a very small native Peperomia. Probably Peperomia tetraphylla, but I have not checked it out for sure.

The other plant of note on the rocks was a Plectranthus - a blue flowered relative of the Salvia tribe. Probably Plectranthus parviflorus.
When I talk about rocks, I am talking about rocks as large as houses, which have either been eroded or degraded, or maybe some have tumbled down the hills from higher above.

One has to be very careful when scrambling around in this country, for the dead branches lying around are half rotten, usually, and there is deep leaf litter everywhere, so crevices between rocks can be covered over, and look solid, but are traps for the unwary. I am not a happy rock climber at the best of times. When tired, and it is getting cold and dark, that is not a good situation. I worked my way down into the creek bed, very carefully and was quite relieved to be safely back in the car, and heading for home. At least I did not encounter any Leeches yesterday.

On very protected faces of mossy rocks
there were carpets of this Orchid.
That makes it a "lithophyte"
growing ON rocks (amongst mosses),
but not parasitic in any sense.
It used by known as Bulbophyllum shepherdii.
These days it is called Oxysepala shepherdii
This plant grows just as happily on dead trees.
So, it is both an "epiphyte" and a "lithophyte".
At first I thought that I had missed seeing the flowers
(too late again?).

From about an arms length away,
there seemed to be tiny dried shells of old flowers.
Then I realised that I could see little orange "labellums".
These plants were rampantly in flower!

A word about these plants is appropriate.
There is another species of "Bulbophyllum" in the district. Its leaves are far smaller. The leaves of this species are about 2.5 cm long and have a deep groove in the upper surface.
They are succulent leaves, not dissimilar in feel to "Pigface".
In the first photograph (above) you can see many of the "pseudobulbs" which form along the stems of these plants.

Here is a close-up of a single flower.
I have pasted a re-size image onto the cropped image,
to give a true idea of scale (when blown up to full size).
Click to enlarge.
This tiny single flower is gripped between
my thumb and forefinger.

You can see from the way these flowers hang down in nature,
they do not mind which way they hold their flowers.
So I could not decide which way to show the flower,
but David Jones's illustration shows the plant side on
with the labellum in the lower section of the flower.
PlantNET shows the flower the wrong way round.

It looks right, that way, but it is botanically incorrect.
The other epiphytic (or lithophytic) Orchid
which was in flower there yesterday

is the lovely Sarcochilus olivaceus.
David Jones refers to this one as
Sarcochilus parviflorus

but that
name is not even mentioned in PlantNET.
Here is the flower at its natural pendant angle.
The flower opening is facing downwards.
Here is the flower held up, so one can see "into" the flower.
The column is very prominent above the flower (in this view).
Remember it normally is held "face down".
The deeply cupped labellum has very prominent "lateral lobes"
which you can see clearly if you click to enlarge the image.
These lateral lobes seem to reach around, to almost touch eachother.

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