Before showing you the Orchids, though, I must show this photo. It is a composite of a snap I took yesterday, and one that a friend of mine, Angela, took of a family picnic at Thirlmere Lakes in early 1993 (dated by the age of the children).
However, the area is still providing good Orchid habitat. These are Corysanthes fimbriata (formerly Corybas). The Corybas group are known generally as "Helmet Orchids" for reasons which will become apparent as you read on.
Funny little things, they resemble grapes dropped on the forest floor. They are about that size too,
These were in the wettest part of the Thirlmere Lakes NP, close to the Blue Gum Creek section (about as far as one can go, except on foot). Technically, at this point one is in the Nattai National Park, part of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. In reality, we are still within the Thirlmere area - but there is a definite habitat change in this "far end" of the park. These Orchids were growing in deep leaf litter, in a wet gully, under tall Eucalypts, with some rainforest trees around as well.
|Corysanthes fimbriata - face on.|
|Corysanthes fimbriata -note speckled hood, and fringe visible|
|Corysanthes fimbriata - viewed just off to the side|
Needless to say, everything about the Corybas tribe of orchids involves lying down on the forest floor, to get any decent sort of shots. Fortunately the forest was dry, and the Leeches were all asleep (as befits their Winter Solstice mode), I would hate to do this in summer.
For comparison, here are some related plants, seen at Jervis Bay the week before.
The two sites are similar in one respect. Both are within Sandstone habitats, with deep grey sandy soil. The Jervis Bay site (for the following flowers) is coastal, south from Nowra, the Thirlmere Lakes site is in the heart of the southern "Sydney Basin", close to the Warragamba catchment (see linked "Location" map at the very end of this post - in the red Blogger footnotes).
You can see the Corybas family resemblance. A rounded leaf, flat on the ground, with a funny little hooded flower on a very short stem. Unlike some Corybas species, the flowers of both today's species are open to the outside world, because they are angled back, leaving easy access for pollinators.
These plants are Corysanthes pruinosa
|Corysanthes pruinosa - seen from the rear top view.|
|Corysanthes pruinosa - my best front on view|
|Corysanthes pruinosa - looking like little spotted "Marbles" on the ground.|
The trick with these plants is to look for their leaves - on the ground. Find them, and then look closely for the flowers. See one, you might realise there are many around.
Unfortunately, my flash unit ran out of battery power at this point and it was way too far to walk back to the car to get spares. So this is the best I can offer.
You'll get the point, however.
I have called these the "Three Wise Monkey" Orchids.
|Three Wise Monkey Orchids - Corybas pruinosa.|