Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A small forest of Potato Orchids.

This morning I showed my friend Kirsten a few plants of the Cinnamon Bells (Potato Orchid), Gastrodia sesamoides. These plants are regularly seen growing in the Robertson Nature Reserve, where they grow around the base of several huge old Pinus radiata trees. These particular plants are the only ground Orchids of which I know, growing in the Robertson Nature Reserve. (There are some epiphytic Orchids growing in there, but not very many).
I have written about these particular plants last year, with comments on how to tell this species from the other local species of Potato Orchid. The other species is known as the Tall Potato Orchid (Gastrodia procera).
I reported three weeks ago on finding them again this year.
This species is fairly consistent in flowering about 3 weeks later than the related species.

Cinnamon Bells, Gastrodia sesamoides
Gastrodia sesamoides growing in the Robertson Nature Reserve.
Gastrodia sesamoides - note how "chunky" the flower is.
note the plump bulb at "base" (top end) of Gastrodia sesamoides flower.
Anyway, I was keen to show these plants to Kirsten, as I had shown her the other species a few weeks ago. So much so that I even warned her of the risk of attack by Leeches, but "trust me, it will be worth it".

Several minutes later, Kirsten was not so sure.
The Leeches were coming out of the forest everywhere.
That is despite the fact that we had both sprayed 
our shoes, socks and ankles with Insect Repellant.
For the record, the Leeches were less than keen on the taste on our boots
and we both escaped without a "bite" - 
but only by repeatedly flicking them off our boots.

Note the orange stripe along the side of the Leech.
Two leeches on Kirsten's shoes at once.
As we left, Kirsten gave out one last squeak, 
as she found this Leech catching a lift on her Camera.
A pretty inventive way of getting to the target person.
It was only a small Leech, but a highly adventurous one.
Australian Land Leech - probably Gnatbobdellida libbata
Anyway, Kirsten and I left Robertson, to go down the hill to Kangaloon.
As I was driving along I got a call from Kirsten telling me to turn around.
She would not tell me what it was she wanted me to see.

She had found a veritable forest of Potato Orchids.
The "Mother Lode" of Potato Orchids which Kirsten found.
This colony of Potato Orchids was so large that 
Kirsten spotted them while driving along the road.
Normally they are hard to see.

Here is a second group in this colony.
They were growing amongst a stand of "Brown Barrell" Eucalypts.
There is deep leaf litter here, which is important to note
as Potato Orchids grow in relation with fungi living in decomposing organic matter.
Note how dense this colony of Potato Orchids is.
These potato Orchids were very large, and strong growing
Perhaps the three inches (75 mm of rain)
in the last week helped boost them.
Some as yet unopened buds of Gastrodia sesamoides.
A particularly strong specimen, growing by itself, 
close to the rest of the colony of Potato Orchids.
A strong specimen of Gastrodia sesamoides
This plant was photographed from about 10 metres away.
I cannot exactly count how many flowers there are
but it seems to be about 25 opened flowers
with a further 10 buds yet to open.
Pretty impressive. 

PlantNET says 
this species normally 2 to 20 flowers.
I have never seen anything like as many flowers on a single stem.
Magnificent head of Gastrodia sesamoides

Even more Potato Orchids, growing at the base of Brown Barrels.
This surely is 
the Mother Lode of Potato Orchids 
in East Kangaloon.


Flabmeister said...


Great images! However, you should not talk about 'mother-lodes'. It will encourage the miners!

I am not sure Frances wishes to know about camera-invading leeches. She, like Kirsten, has enough difficulty with the ankle biters!


Denis Wilson said...

Wooses abound, apparently.
Went back today, and saw not one Leech. Maybe they prefer female pheromones, or maybe I just double-dosed myself with Aerogard.
Anyway, I survived today unscathed.
By the way, you're right about the Miners. I don't want to encourage them.
Maybe "Ground Zero" of Potato Orchids?

Dicky Simpson said...

Hi Denis,

The best leech repellent that I have come across so far is a 50:50 mix of water and tea tree oil in a little spray bottle that I can carry around in my pocket/hiking pack. I just spray myself all over (especially my legs and around the tops of my boots) and I hardly have a problem. And it smells so much better than any of the store bought repellents.


Denis Wilson said...

Hi Dicky.
I agree - I am a great believer in Tea Tree Oil, as a disinfectant, and as an insect repellant.