Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Austinmer and Byron Bay Protests against Coal Seam Gas

And here is a matching report on WIN News

Congratulations to Jess Moore and Natasha Watson and Craig Williams.

Here is the newspaper report of the matching Byron Bay demonstration against CSG.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Greenhoods at Jervis Bay site

These are yet more ground Orchid species found at the same Jervis Bay site. So just imagine how many plants are there, in total - the Caladenias, the Acianthus (two forms) and these Greenhoods. There were also a few other Orchid species here, but some, such as Corybas (Helmet Orchids)and Bunochilus (Tall Greenhoods) are not quite in flower yet. Speculanthas (Tiny Greenhoods) had finished.

It is an amazing area of plants. So many Orchids in one 200 metre stretch of road - surrounded by so much bush with relatively few Orchids. Why?

Taurantha concinna - the Trim Greenhood
(formerly Pterostylis concinna)
This flower is ever so slightly imperfect.
The "points" are not balanced or straight.
And the "hood" is slightly imperfectly formed.
The flower ought have a slightly more pointed dorsal sepal.
Taurantha concinna (with a particularly blunt hood).

Here is the botanical illustration from PlantNET to show what I mean
about the standard plant being slightly more pointed. 

Taurantha concinna - illustration from PlantNET
Here is the same flower - viewed from the front on.
This flower shows good colour on the front 
(more than I had remembered)
This image shows that the stem is quite rough (almost hairy).
As indicated above, you can see one point is bent over.
Click on the image to enlarge it.
You can see the labellum, which is in fact notched (V) at its top.
That is a diagnostic feature of this species.
(Other Greenhoods have V notches in the Labellum, 
but they look very different from this species.) 
The V shaped labellum is nicely illustrated above.
Taurantha concinnna
Here is the rear view of this flower.
It always seems very neat and "round bottomed"
Rear view of Taurantha concinna
Here is the rosette and the stem emerging from the centre of the rosette.
Note the sandy soil in which these plants are growing.
Rosette of Taurantha concinna

By way of contrast, here is Pterostylis acuminata.
I have shown this flower several times before, this season.
My reason to show it again is by way of contrast 
with the snub-nosed Taurantha concinna.
There were many specimens of Pt. acuminata 
growing along this same stretch of road.

Pterostylis acuminata - with a long pointed labellum 
It is the long labellum from which this plant gets its specific name.
This specimen has very nice balanced points (of the lateral sepals)
The hood is beautifully tapered, 
but not showing the extreme filiform pointed nose 
which some other species show (eg the Antelope Greenhood)
The show of light fawn colour is typical of this species.

As with so many other Greenhoods, 
this one is showing a fine cobweb underneath the flower. 
That indicates the likely presence of a tiny flower spider 
which is probably lurking inside the flower.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Acianthus fornicatus - "Pixie Caps" - regular and green forms

Here is a regular coloured form of Acianthus fornicatus. It is also known as "Pixie Caps", because of its delicate shape and fine texture. Unfortunately, this flower is nearly invisible in the bush, because much of the flower is transparent. 

I find that I see the leaf, which is a flat, heart-shaped leaf, long before I see the flower itself. Spot the leaf and then look for the flowers, is the normal routine with Acianthus plants.

These plants were growing in the same area where I photographed the Petalochilus pictus, shown yesterday, from the Jervis Bay district.

Acianthus fornicatus - regular colour form
 Here it is again seen from the front.
The column is clearly visible in this shot, 
But one seldom gets to see this detail.
That's why I use flash to get the images.
Click on the image to see the full detail.
Acianthus fornicatus - showing the semi-transparent "Pixie Cap"
 Here is the lovely and unusual green form of this same species.
It is known as an "alba" form, which amounts to it being without pigment.
However, it does have chlorophyll, which is all that remains to give it colour.
Alba forms of many Orchids are known, but they tend to be unusual.
I have seen alba forms of  other Orchids before, but not often.
They tend to be found together, 
presumably because of a genetic variation,
which has been inherited by all the plants in the group.

The two forms, natural and green, were growing close to eachother, 
but the green forms are found only in a massed single colony.
Acianthus fornicatus - alba form.
  Here is the full stem of one of the "alba" form plants.
Acianthus fornicatus - alba form. A full stem of flowers.
 Click to enlarge, to see the dense growth of this colony of plants.
The colony of the green Acianthus fornicatus - alba form plants.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Orchids at Jervis Bay "suburbia"

There is plenty of "suburbia" at Jervis Bay, but in one particular stretch of road there are thousands of Orchids growing in a patch of plain suburban roadside. The soil is "just right" for them obviously and the locals seem to leave them alone, for which we are all deeply grateful.

Petalochilus pictus (formerly Caladenia picta) puts on the best display I have ever seen, in deep sandy soil, just on the edge of the suburban road, close to the coast here at Jervis Bay. 
Group of Petalochilus pictus
Petalochilus pictus - pink form and white form
Tight group of Petalochilus pictus
Double flower stem - Petalochilus pictus
Portrait of Petalochilus pictus
A nice pink form of Petalochilus pictus
study image of column, labellum and dorsal sepal - Petalochilus pictus
There were many hundreds of other orchid species growing in the same stretch of road and I will show these over the next few night.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Diplodium longipetalum at Douglas Park

Today Alan Stephenson and I went north, to Douglas Park and Thirlmere Lakes, to check out some plants I have seen recently at those localities.

Firstly Alan wanted to see some Speculanthas (Tiny Greenhoods) which I had found last week which were unusually tall (for Speculanthas), with "bunched flowers" - flowers all close towards the top of the stems.These features are not necessarily unusual in Speculanthas, but these features are unusual in the only known species in the Douglas Park area. We decided they were worth checking out more closely.

These plants were growing in grey sandy soil,
over a rock ledge some 50 metres above the Nepean River, 
some 500 metres up river from the "Twin Bridges" at Douglas Park.
Speculantha species growing in shallow pocket of sand over sandstone rock.

A horizontal view of the same colony of flowers
Speculantha colony in sandy pocket on rock - seen horiontally.
Note the bunching of the flowers at top of the stems.
Most of the Speculanthas I find 
have flowers well spaced along the stems.
Speculantha species - note the thin stems and flowers bunched at top of stems.

This solitary flower shows clearly the tiny stem bracts.
The shot was taken in late afternoon light
with the sun shining through the flower.
Speculantha species - fine stem tiny stem bracts.
The shot was taken in late afternoon light
with the sun shining through the flower.
Speculantha sp. This flower is "past it" with the lateral sepals starting to collapse.
A fresh flower - quite pale.
Note the "points" of the petals wrapping over the dorsal sepal.
The galea has a noticeable "ledge".
From the side the flower resembles a question mark.
Speculantha sp. Douglas Park
Today I took this shot of a fresh flower,
The points of the petals are wrapped over the "hood".
The flower is very narrow (not bulging) at the base.
The labellum is protruding noticeably.
(That is an unusual feature in Speculanthas, for which 
the labellum is generally hidden within the flower).
The front of the flower is "overblown" with flash - sorry.
Alan is collecting a set of images of many different forms of Speculanthas. We both feel that the plants which we keep finding are not yet fully distinguishable, based upon the species which have been formally named as yet. That's why I am referring to these plants simply as "Speculantha sp. Douglas Park".

After having located these plants which I had found last weekend, we decided to explore the area for other interesting things.

We walked along a track running parallel to the Hume Highway. Alan found a rocky outcrop with a sheet of moss on it, and in the middle of that was a cluster of small Greenhood rosettes.
Rosettes of Greenhoods.
We looked around and found another colony of similar Greenhood rosettes and two plants with flowers. They had a beautiful shape, nicely rounded in the "hood" and a filiform point on the dorsal sepal.

I have to tell you that I was just getting into position to get a profile shot of the side of the first flower, to show the labellum - which was beautifully set. Alan moved in to line up to photograph the second flower. Suddenly he managed to dislodge a stick on the ground, which hit both plants simultaneously. Suddenly the labellum on both flowers, had snapped closed and disappeared from view (almost entirely). Here is the first plant, now triggered closed, with the fine pointed labellum just ever-so-slightly protruding.
To be fair, we have all accidentally triggered Greenhoods 
to close their labellums at times, 
but to trigger two to close at once requires talent.
I kept giving Alan heaps about that, 
during the subsequent walking and talking.

Diplodium longipetalum - a perfect flower. Labellum just protruding a tiny bit.
Having left the flowers alone, to see if they would re-set themselves (as they often do), we came back after about half an hour, and they were still "closed". 
Alan then redeemed himself, in my eyes, but using a fine twig to prise the labellum back its "set" position - fully protruding. Here is it - with the labellum reset by Alan.

So what species is it? The images which we took clearly matched the images of Diplodium longipetalum  also known as Pterostylis longipetala. This is yet another new species for me. And a lovely one it is, too.
Click to enlarge the image, 
to see the fine pointed labellum fully protruding.
Diplodium longipetalum - with Labellum in the "set" position.
 Here is one flower seen from above.
There is some brown colour on the hood.
One of the two points is facing forward, but
the fine "filiform" tip of the dorsal sepal is clearly visible from above.
Click to enlarge the image.
Diplodium longipetalum - seen from above.
 Here is the flower seen from the rear view.
Click to enlarge the image to see it properly.

I mentioned that we went to Thirlmere Lakes after Douglas Park. Unfortunately to recount our experiences there, would take too long for a single Blog posting, so I will hold that story over till next time.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Gardens of Stone Rally

Yesterday, 120 people from numerous environmental and heritage groups assembled at a remote location on Gardiners Gap Fire Trail, in the Blue Mountains, to declare that the Gardens of Stone deserve to be protected from coal Mining.

The main organisations represented in this rally included the Nature Conservation Council, the Blue Mountains Conservation Society, the Colong Foundation for Wilderness, Rivers SOS, and The Wilderness Society,. 
There were many members of other groups also present, including the National Parks Association (NSW) Australian Water Campaigners, The National Trust of Australia (NSW), and the Australian Plants Society (NSW) Several members of the Southern Highlands Photographic Society came along for the opportunity to support this event, as well as to photograph the unique landscape.

We were there to draw attention to this unique piece of landscape and national heritage. We can but hope that the Rally might help provoke Government into acting to protect the Gardens of Stone from Coal Mining.

A set of natural Stone Pagodas in the Gardens of Stone

Some of the supporters of the Gardens of Stone

Pepe Clark of NCC, Justin, Cate Faehrmann MLC, Prof. Brian Marshall

Keith Muir of Colong Foundation, holding the far end of the banner at the Gardens of Stone Rally

Prof. Brian Marshall (right), of BMCS, one of the main groups campaigning for Gardens of Stone

Cameras galore record the Gardens of Stone Rally
Colliery visible below the Gardens of Stone

"Invincible" Colliery is creating an unconscionable blight on the landscape
Ecopella is a dedicated band of singers who, under the leadership of Miguel Heatwole, perform for environmental groups, or at special events such as the Gardens of Stone Rally. Their theme is "Save-the-World Music".

Not sure of non-FB people can visit the gallery or not.

Crowd listening to ECOPELLA singing on a "Stone Pagoda"

ECOPELLA singing for Gardens of Stone

National Trust members 'Showing the Flag" for Gardens of Stone
Photo of me by Toni Valentine (she was standing behind Cate F.)
Photo of me (in foreground) - by Caroline Graham

A lone photographer had ventured onto the next outcropping Stone Pagoda

If anyone knows who the mystery photographer is, please contact me.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Blogger back up again. Brief post from Thirlmere Lakes, NSW

You may have seen Martin's report of problems with Blogger.
Earlier on tonight it was simply unaccessible at all. But its up and running again. Let's be grateful for small mercies. After all, we don't pay to use it (at least I don't) nor do I try to make others pay via "Adsense".

Am I a dreamer, or can we keep Blogger operating and keep it free?
If nothing else, it gives great kudos to Google. Not sure they count kudos points as readily as they count dollars.

Lets move on.

On Monday this week I went to inspect Thirlmere Lakes again. The main two lakes are both now lower than I have ever seen. The last lake in the system was made more interesting by speaking with members of the family who ran the place for more than 50 years. I inspected the lake, which has previously had as much as 30 feet of water in it. David demonstrated how he recalled swimming with his head just out of water, and being able to touch his toes on this old tree trunk (then submerged). Here he is trying to demonstrate the height of the water level he remembers from his childhood.
Click on image to see details
When I was there, several days ago, the lake was totally dry,
(It has been for two years at least, if not more).
The lake had just one soak hole, scratched out by animals,
in search of a few mouthfuls of water to drink.

This sombre spectacle was made somewhat funny by finding a set
of False Teeth (upper mandible). David said the family reported a
friend having lost his teeth when "duck diving" in the lake.
Here they are.
and an old Tonka Truck model of a Bulldozer,
and several home made oars.
Proof of the previous existence of water in this now dry lake.

Of more usual interest value to me and readers of this Blog, is this image of Chiloglottis diphylla.
Click on image to see details
Chiloglottis diphylla
note the rolled edges of the labellum
and the incomplete coverage of glands on the labellum.

It is the first of this species which I have ever identified. (I may have seen it before, but not recognised it for what it is.) I confess to assuming, at first that it was Chiloglottis trilabra, but after discussing it with Alan Stephenson, and checking all my images carefully I am sure it is "diphylla" because of the "rounded shoulders" of the labellum (they fold under slightly at each edge). That and the fact that the insectiform calli (glands) do not go right to the tip of the labellum, whereas Ch. trilabra has calli which run in a tapering, narrow line, right to the tip of the labellum.
Chiloglottis diphylla - side view.
Click on image to see details
Note the "clubs" (petals) hanging straight below the labellum
not reflexed as in Chiloglottis reflexa.

My colleagues Colin and Mischa Rowan have shown this species, also photographed at Thirlmere Lakes, with photos taken back in 2008. They also have some interesting colour variants of the same species. Mine were all reddish, not greenish in the base colour, as Colin and Mischa's plants were.
Here is another plant of the same species
I also found at Thirlmere Lakes.
Click on image to see details
And large leaves of Chiloglottis diphylla on the ground.
The specific name ("diphylla") is a bit silly, because all Chiloglottis (that I have seen) have two leaves - always opposite, or nearly so. If one were to find a single leafed form, that would almost certainly be a damaged specimen. But I have never seen a triple or quadruple leaf set.