Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

So much happening, so little time

This week a "Large Tongue Orchid" (Cryptostylis subulata) which I have been observing for four years (if not five) flowered for the first time.

I first saw that it had formed a flowering stem back in mid August. It opened on Monday. More than two months after the stem and buds first started to form.

This plant is growing in a dark Melaleuca thicket
in a bed of deep moist leaf litter.
I estimate it is in about 70% shade.
A most atypical habitat for this species.
The same flower stem today (taken with flash).
This is a tall Orchid, the stem reached to the top of my pocket
That is approx 90 cm, and the stem is still growing.
As seen from above, you can see
why it earns the name "Cow Orchid".

The lateral sepals roll themselves closed
and appear to look like cow horns.
Seen from underneath.
The flower has dark red glands along the centre of the labellum.
The column can be seen underneath the labellum.
(click to enlarge the image).
These Tongue Orchids are perhaps the most sexually explicit
of all Orchid flowers that I know.

As for the "so little time" -
The Bowerbirds were in a feeding frenzy to day.

The first of my Herbaceous peonies opened to day;
The next two Tree Peonies were showing colour;
There was an amazing sunset (which I did not photograph)
but I was able to share it with Tony and Anna Williams
who happened to be passing by,
as the sun was setting.


Tyto Tony said...

Are there any orchids that aren't sexually explicit? But my real question is: why have do most Oz orchids occupy such a subdued and narrow colour range?

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Tony
Well greenhoods go to great pains to hide their "rude bits" inside the hood.
But if you are a small inset they will snap closed and imprison you for 30 minutes. So that covers the "bondage" fetishist insects.
For the rest of your question, my answer is oblique - they seem to have perfected scent (pheromone mimicry) over colour.
Beyond that I cannot say.
Remember that the showy Florist Orchids have been selected by humans, not the natural pollinators, in much they way that mankind has developed the Hybrid Tea Rose from things like Briar Roses.
And Europeans have only been here for 250 years, and such thing as growing and hybridising Orchids is relatively new. They have done much work with the colourful Dendrobium kingianum relatives. But mostly they are small flowers.
Give them time.
Interesting issues you have raised.

mick said...

It sounds like a perfect day - orchids, garden flowers, birds and good friends! The bearded orchid in your previous post is a real "Wow" flower for me. I don't remember you posting about them before and I have certainly never seen one. It is so unusual but still so delicately beautiful.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mick
It was indeed a good day, but so much more than I have been able to post, yet.
This Orchid is one of the first I ever identified when I "got into" Orchids when I moved to Robertson. But it is uncommon, or it flowers uncommonly, if you get my distinction.
I have posted on it previously, but not as often as some other Tongue Orchids.
It is still one of my favourites.