Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Monday, January 31, 2011

Corunastylis pumila - yet another tiny Orchid.

What is it with tiny Orchids?

Many small Orchids grow as part of a large mat of many plants, on rocks. I am thinking of the Bulbophyllum genus in particular.

But this tiny Corunastylis pumila grows as a separate (individual) free-standing plant. 

It is barely two inches (actually 56mm) tall. 
There is always a risk of parallax error in photos like this, 
unless I have got right down flat on the ground. 
I didn't quite get down that far. 
You can forgive some minor room for error, I trust. 
It is a very small plant. 
Needless to say, it is hard to see, and even harder to photograph well. 
With my camera I have no "preview screen" 
so I have to get down and look through the eye piece.
(Note for Kirsten: Fortunately there were no Bull Ants around).
(Note for Colin - No Leeches, either.)
Corunastylis pumila - at 56 mm it warrant the name "pumila".

About as small as last week's related plant - Corunastylis densa. There were about 25 of these plants growing in a moist moss bed over shallow sandy soil out near the quarry at Carrington Falls. That sounds like a lot of Orchids. Spread out over the area of an average suburban house block, let me tell you - there is  a lot of space between these plants.

Corunastylis pumila. David Jones's book shows an all  green form.

David Jones's book shows only the all green form of this Orchid. But Colin and Mischa Rowan have photos of plants looking exactly like this. Alan Stephenson told me the green form is actually the "type form" (from which the plant was described), but that the more common form is the one I have come across.

You can see clearly that the tip of the labellum sweeps upwards.
It is like a mini-ski jump ramp (ironic, given its minute size).
The tip of the leaf stem is visible.
Corunastylis pumila - the form with the red mark at the top of the flower.
The flower on the lower right is facing the camera directly.
The yellowish section is the top of the labellum.
On either side are the petals - each with a tiny white gland on the tip.
The labellum is the barely visible "boat-shaped" green organ. 
It is held very close to the stem.
You can see the shape of the flower more clearly in the next image.
The lower flower is facing the camera directly. Click to enlarge,
Look at the flower on the left.
The red section is the top of the flower,
Then the lateral sepal is the largest organ, (shielding the column)
Next down is the petal, and below that
is the labellum. 
The plant looks like it has "tucked its chin in" (as it were).
Corunastylis pumila - side view.

Note in the image above that the leaf goes higher than the flower spike.
That is contrary to Jones' description.
He says the leaf ends below the flowers.
Just shows the plants do not always read the instruction manual!

In the next image, you can see inside the flower,
as a result of me pushing the flowers back on an angle
(very gently I might say).
The column is visible, with the pollinia showing, (now).
Corunastylis pumila - Pollinia visible inside the flower.
Click to enlarge the image.

Time for me to let off steam:

After a frustrating day the day before,
having travelled as far afield as Thirlmere Lakes,
looking for Orchids and finding only two plants of one species,
it was gratifying to find lots of Orchids.
And this just near Carrington Falls, a few kilometres from Robertson.
Fishermen have a saying for this about novices always
trying to cast to the far side of the river,
when the fish are just under the river bank beneath your feet.


mick said...

Tiny perfect flowers! You must get as much satisfaction from photographing them as I do when I find and photograph a bird in just the right place.

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Mick.
Yes there is great satisfaction in finding something "different" then there is the process of working out what it is.
Fortunately, in this case it was easy enough, thanks to Colin and Mischa's website. They had a clearly identical plant.