Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Friday, September 23, 2011

Petalochilus hillmanii at 600 metres altitude, not just at sea level.

This species has previously been recorded officially as a "coastal" plant (meaning low altitude only). I have today received confirmation from Alan Stephenson that plants I found several days ago at Cambewarra Range Nature Reserve are in fact Petalochilus hillmanii. I have previously reported these plants from the Myola area and from Callala, in the Jervis Bay area.

Alan agreed to meet me at the site this morning. I can now confirm that there is no doubt about it. Petalochilus hillmanii has been positively identified as growing in the damp peaty soil found under a powerline easement which runs to a Telstra communications tower on Cambewarra Range at an altitude of approximately 600 metres above sea level.
long range habitat view to the Telstra Radio Tower
The habitat immediately around these plants is dense head-high Melaleuca thicket (with Eucalypts in the drier ridges, away from the Meleleuca thicket). But the Orchids are only visible along the slashed powerline easement, which is covered with various wet-land plants such as various rush-like things, Tall Sundews, and lots of alpine swamp-loving species of Xanthorrhoea (Grass Trees). The base soil underneath his dense peaty soil is obviously sandy soil over a rock shelf.  

To explain about the habitat, anyone who knows Cambewarra Mountain would assume this is rainforest habitat. Although such habitat does exist close by, on the same mountain (though mostly on basalt soil) this habitat is a moist soak, over sandstone. It is akin to a "Upland Swamp", but with Melaleuca thicket instead of sedge and rush plants. Once the Melaleuca plants were slashed to create the powerline easement, then the rush-like plants have established as the dominant plant form. This has also allowed the Orchids and Sundews and many low heath plants to colonise this area.
Petalochilus hillmanii

A mid-pink from of Petalochilus hillmanii. The "dark eye" is visible from a distance

A dual-flowered stem of Petalochilus hillmanii

A beautiful pale form of Petalochilus hillmanii
The same Petalochilus hillmanii flower close-up

Orchid pollinia stuck on the tip of the dorsal sepal

a very beautiful form of Petalochilus hillmanii

Sign indicating the beginning of Nature Reserve.
Despite that sign, the the local people know this area as Red Rocks Nature Reserve. It shows up that way, on Google Maps of the area.

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