Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Friday, January 28, 2011

Corunastylis sagittifera at Medway.

I have seen these plants previously, but their identity has been disputed somewhat. I had previously identified this species as "C. oligantha (probably)". These plants look a lot like some other Corunastylis species e.g., C. oligantha (the true species) from Mongarlowe (east from Braidwood); C. sp. aff oligantha - from Vincentia; and C. cornuta (from the ACT).

The problem with these Corunastylis species is that they look so alike - at least in photographs. No doubt if laid out side by side on a laboratory bench one could be satisfied that there are differences between them. Maybe.

Anyway, after consultation with Colin and Mischa Rowan, I have decided to stick with the name Corunastylis sagittifera - until someone can prove to me that they are NOT that species. C. sagittifera is reported to be found usually in the Blue Mountains (higher portions). These plants come from Medway, just west of Berrima, but it is an area which has many plants typical of Blue Mountains flora. Geographically, the "Lower Blue Mountains" is contiguous with the "Upper Blue Mountains". The soil in this area is a yellow clay, over sandstone - very similar to where I have also seen this plant, in a small section of Tourist Road, Kangaloon (also with Lower Blue Mountains flora). So I am satisfied that this record is legitimate (botanically).

These plants are significantly taller than the tiny little C. densa I showed two weeks ago.  Here is my hand, with my fingers touching the ground, and my thumb stuck out at right angles, just higher than the flower stem. That makes the stem 17 cm tall (seven inches) now that I have just measured my hand.

Corunastylis sagittifera flower spike.
Here are the flowers close-up.
You can see from the top flower why this plant is known as 
the "Horned Midge Orchid".
Corunastylis sagittifera
Another flower of the same species. Previously I have seen many of these plants in this site, but there has been a "burn-off" conducted here, and this year there are few Orchids visible. I am confident that they will re-appear in future seasons, as the plants would have been dormant when the burn-off was conducted.

This is a cropped image - from the photo above.
The image shows the dorsal sepal bent back against the stem.
The petal is lightly coloured, with some red stripes. 
It is pointing directly downwards.
The dark red, hairy organ is the "labellum".
It is flexible, being hinged. It flutters in the breeze.
The light green lateral sepals are the "horns". 
In this image, they are horizontal.
Click on the image to enlarge it, to see the details.
Cropped image of Corunastylis sagittifera.
This is an old image, from 2008. 
It shows the dorsal sepal of this same species of plant.
 The dorsal sepal has no significant hairs on its margins.
That fact separates this species from many other Corunastylis species.
The reddish hairs are, I believe part of the "column wings".
As such they are structurally separate from the Dorsal Sepal, but within it.
the red striped organs are the petals. One each side of the flower.
Taking photos at this level of detail, is hard work. Sorting through them all to get the best images to try to be able to show the diagnostic features of the species is even more time consuming. I hope you think it is worth while.

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