I am told that once upon a time, the rocky ledges around Sydney were covered with "Rock Lilies" (as they were known to the early settlers). They are of course, Orchids - Dendrobium speciosum (the Sydney Rock Orchid).
Sadly the rock ledges around Sydney no longer are festooned with these spectacular flowers. There is a huge issue with illegal collection of Orchids from "The Bush".
Currently one can drive around the coastal towns and cities of the Illawarra and Shoalhaven regions and see spectacular plants of the Sydney Rock Orchid in flower in people's front gardens. Albion Park, Nowra and Kangaroo Valley all spring to mind as places with examples of plants growing happily in gardens.
Unfortunately, it is precisely because of people's fondness for these plants in gardens, they are now a rare sight in "The Bush".
It is of course, illegal to collect these plants from the Bush, but it is a difficult matter to police and administer.
Anyway, best not to dwell on the "sins of our fathers".
The same story can be told of Christmas Bells, which were once picked in their thousands, for sale in flower markets (where the sale of cut flowers is now specifically prohibited).
The good news is that I can acknowledge that in some remote (and obviously un-nameable) patches of National Park lands in the lower Shoalhaven Valley, the Sydney Rock Orchids still thrive in their original (natural) abundance.
|Dendrobium speciosum - on rocks|
Here is a zoomed image of the same plant
Here is another issue.
Does Dendrobium speciosum grow on trees?
Well, yes it does!
Or does it?
Here is a fallen flower which
the ever-observant Colin Rowan spotted,
when we were walking along the "boardwalk"
at Minnamurra Rainforest reserve.
|Fallen flower of Thelychiton epiphyticus|
Colin's discovery led to us photographing
the plants growing
high in the rainforest canopy above.
|Thelychiton epiphyticus at Minnamurra Nature Reserve|
But if it grows on trees, is it still a Rock Orchid?
If so, is it another species?
Serious (and qualified) Orchid experts
have debated this question for many years.
Jones and Clements argue that it is,
and have renamed it as Thelychiton epiphyticus
That link still uses the "old name"
but it does recognise this plant
as a different sub-species.
So, even the conservative botanists who control PlantNET
acknowledge it as a different plant,
and accord it sub-species status.
That's a start.
This tree form of this Orchid
grows on Cambewarra Mountain
high on a rainforest tree.
|Thelychiton epiphyticus (flower spray on right)|
Here are some images of other, even more impressive plants, of this species growing at Minnamurra Rainforest (near Jamberoo village), part of the Budderoo National Park. The Minnamurra Rainforest is noted for its spectacular wet gorge and waterfall, and the rainforest trees. This shot was taken with a 300 mm lens. So that gives you some idea of how tall this tree is.
The flower sprays are circled in red to show where they are.
|Thelychiton epiphyticus at Minnamurra rainforest.|
Long may these magnificent plants survive - far out of reach of collectors.
I am growing one Sydney Rock Orchid plant
(a small division from an original plant)
which was given to me by a friend who owned
a federation house in Mosman which was being sold.
After some discussion, it was decided
to save the plant from possible destruction,
as the new owners were planning major renovations.
The magnificent original plant was divided
and shared out to people who promised to look after it.