Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Orchids of Robertson, Goulburn and Mt Rae

On Saturday morning Kirsten, (the Editor of our local ANOS Bulletin) and I were invited by Mark Selmes to go to Mt Rae, between Taralga and Crookwell. Before we left Robertson, I took the opportunity to show Kirsten a wonderful group of Orange-blossom Orchids (Sarcochilus falcatus).
A nice single clump.
You can see the thick, fleshy roots and dark green leaves.
These plants have particularly large flowers for this species.
These are growing amongst the dense mass of "Rock Felt Fern" (Pyrrosia rupestris) on mature or senescent Blackwood Wattle trees (Acacia melanoxylon).
There are more than a dozen plants on a single branch here.
The plants which grow along my own road in Robertson have all-but-finished flowering. However, these plants in today's post are growing on a slightly higher ridge, and are also growing in dense shade underneath the dense canopy of Wattle foliage. So, although they are just a few kilometres away from Robertson, these plants are a full two weeks later than the local plants.

On the way into Goulburn I decided to stop off on Governor's Hill, above Goulburn. I have seen some interesting Orchids there in previous years. But that was a little earlier in the season. But we decided to have a look. We found a few Diuris sulphurea, but these are common in the Southern Highlands.

Suddenly, Kirsten bobbed down and started going on about something which I could not yet see. I moved over to inspect what she had discovered and realised that we both knew straight away that they were one of the "rufa" type Greenhoods. Tiny, brownish red plants, growing out of a dry rocky depression (a drainage line) on a dry rocky hillside. Good work, Kirsten. Fortunately I had my copy of David Jones's book to check out exactly which species we were looking at.

I claimed some credit for this "find" because I had deliberately left my camera in the car, because I hate carting the camera bag around, and then not finding anything to photograph. I was being superstitious, and not wanting to "jinx" myself out of finding something interesting. So, after Kirsten's "find", I cheerfully went back down the hill to get the camera, even though it was on quite a steep slope.
Oligochaetochilus rufus formerly Pterostylis rufa
These plants were mostly only about four inches high
(less than 10 cm tall).
Several "tall" plants were as high as six inches tall (midgets).
A single flower (one of a set on the stem)
Note the Labellum standing forward.
It has a wide, flat "hinge"
on which it can snap shut when triggered
The front view of the Labellum showing the stiff hairs.
Here is the Botanical illustration from PlantNET
It shows those fine short hairs both at the top of the Labellum
and along either side of the Labellum.
Here is another view of two flowers.
Looking at the lower flower, you can clearly see
how far the labellum protrudes before it
changes angle, hanging nearly horizontal.
For once I remembered to change the lens
and get a habitat shot (for Mick).
The main plants are Calytrix tetragona.
I have seldom seen such a dense flowering of "wildflowers".
Goulburn has had a great season this year.
Normally you would not take a second look at this hillside.
We left Goulburn behind and drove north to Taralga
and then west to Mt Rae.
Shortly after we arrived, Mark's neighbour rang
and invited us to check out her Orchids.
This is one of the "Caladenias" now known as
Stegostyla cucullata.
A lovely purple-tipped labellum, hooded "Caladenia" flower.
Here you can see the front, side and rear of three
different flowers on a single stem.
Ignore the other flowers in the background.
This was one of the best displays of these Stegostyla flowers
which I have ever seen.
A truly great display - and this is just some of these plants.
And then we went over to Mark's place
to worship at the foot of the forest.
Well, more or less.

Diuris aequalis in situ, amongst Snow Grass, below a Eucalypt.
This is what it was all about.
We were there to see these wonderful, but endangered
Diuris aequalis the "Buttercup Doubletail (Orchid)".The "Buttercup" name ought be used only in the adjectival sense.
It is not a Buttercup, which is implied if that word is used last.
I refuse to use the silly "Doubletail Buttercup" name
which they use in the
NSW Threatened Species List.
Diuris aequalis is listed as "Vulnerable" on the EPBC Act,
on the basis that less than 200 specimens are known,
from a range of locations between Braidwood and
Kanangra-Boyd National Park, in the Blue Mountains.

It is listed as "Endangered" on the NSW Threatened Species list.
The population between Taralga and Crookwell is well documented, largely thanks to the work done by Mark, and my ANOS colleague Alan Stephenson.

Documentation of this rare plant is important.
By the time I got home that night, I was quite exhausted.
It had been a big day.


mick said...

Thank you!- for all the habitat photos! The close-ups of the orchids show exquisite detail but the prodigality of nature which you show in the habitat photos is just as stunning. The display of stegostyla flowers in amongst the grass is beautiful as is the branch of the tree with the Orange-blossom orchids.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mick
Glad you liked those shots.
I was simply blown away by a whole hillside of waist-high plants in flower in Goulburn. It is normally such a dull, dry hillside that the change is remarkable. I figure it resembles your "Wallum", but it is a so different - a hard rocky "decomposed granite" hillside, but covered with wildflowers.
I also liked the other two photos you mentioned.

Gouldiae said...

Wow Denis,
What a day? Some wonderful stuff there - great work. You said exhausted, but I bet exhilarated too. Just what nature blogging is all about in my book.
Thanks Denis,