Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

A rare Leek Orchid

This Leek Orchid is found in the Nowra region, but is of very limited distribution only. It is Prasophyllum affine. PlantNET calls this the "Heathland Leek Orchid". David Jones calls this the Culburra Leek Orchid. It is accorded the highest status on the EPBC Act, as has been reported and explained by Alan Stephenson.

Here it is growing in long grass, in an open site.
There is "heath" shrubbery around,
but the area has been greatly disturbed.
To me, it looks like potentially swampy grassland.
PLantNET says it avoids swampy areas.
What do they know (that this plant does not know)?

I was surprised that it was quite different from my local Leek Orchids, which are not yet properly identified, but which I had been told might be P. fuscum (syn. P. uroglossum - which I am assured it is not). or P. appendiculatum, or maybe P. affine. They look nothing like these plants (well, in a relative sense, "nothing like") - they are clearly Leek Orchids, but...
Firstly the colour is very pale, yellowish almost,
although apparently the colour forms are variable.
The flowers are very finely pointed.
To me, they resemble the children's book illustrations of
"Ali Baba shoes"
with turned up points.
The next point to note is the spacing of the flowers
and the angle of the ovary from the stem.
These are not tightly spaced, as some Leek Orchids are.
And the ovary is held tightly against the stem.
Next to note is that the dorsal sepal
(which is underneath the flower in Leek Orchids)
is finely pointed, and curved upwards.
The two lateral sepals (the little 'ears" pointing up above the flower)
are very fine, and long, and meet together.
Here is an un-cropped version of the same image
to give you a wider perspective.
To me, this is the most distinctive feature of the plant.
The pale pink flanges behind the column seem most unusual to me.
Presumably this is in fact the Labellum of the flower.
Compare that with the prominent labellum of P. brevilabre,
which is very prominent, and strongly reflexed.
The pollinia are clearly visible in this image
(underneath the labellum)
This view is taken looking down into the centre of the flower.
It is important that,
for rare plants like this and the
"Beautiful Beard Orchid" (Calochilus pulchellus),
(which grows in the same habitat)
to survive,
the local Council, and the State and Federal authorities
need to cooperate to conserve certain areas in perpetuity.

Otherwise, developers will eventually (literally) bulldoze
their way through these tiny remnant patches of rare plants.

One day we will wake up to the fact that these plants have gone.

Remember: extinction is forever.


Anonymous said...

I shudder at how many rare plants we have already bulldozed out of existence before we even noticed they existed!!!!

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Anon.
Yes, you are quite right.
Even large trees are still just being discovered, and identified.
How much easier is it to bulldoze small ephemeral plants out of existence?

Anonymous said...

should learn to put my name to things sorry. Cant seem to get this thing to work for me and it is the only way I can comment

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Anon.
You do not need to "sign in", just use your name or initials (if you are shy) in the text you enter as a comment.

Anonymous said...

not shy just stupid and forgetful. Am getting very stressed bout all this rain and not working lol, it is sending me rather potty, but at least I amn getting some reading done


Denis Wilson said...

Hi Kirsten.
I had already guessed, of course.