Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Cryptostylis erecta (the Bonnet Orchid, or Tartan Orchid)

Cryptostylis erecta is a Tongue Orchid, but it is better known as the "Bonnet Orchid", or the "Tartan Orchid".
It tends to grow in coastal areas, but is known to occur in the Blue Mountains as well. But when I went out with Alan Stephenson the other day, to Leebold Hill (Cambewarra Range Nature Reserve) above Kangaroo Valley, I  said to Alan that I was hoping to find the Bonnet Orchid. It may occur in my immediate area of Robertson/Kangaloon/Fitzroy Falls, but I do not know of it growing there. Hence my interest in looking for it, on the wonderful high ridge above Cambewarra, and Kangaroo Valley. The habitat is similar to my local sandstone plateau areas, but it is warmer and wetter over there. The altitude is similar, but the Shoalhaven Valley region has a climate all of its own.

One can see why it earns both common names.
Bonnet Orchid, for the shape,
and Tartan Orchid for the colour and patterns.
Bonnet Orchid Cryptostylis erecta

Here it is, as I first found it.
It is growing in moist mossy soil, amongst grasses and rushes
over a shallow rock shelf (exposed rocks in background).
Bonnet Orchid Cryptostylis erecta

A closer view, to show the shape of the flowers.
Bonnet Orchid Cryptostylis erecta
Here is another close-up of the flower.
Add caption
It is appropriate to mention that this species is the main one featured in that Video I linked to last week, about "sexual deception" of Wasps by Orchids. Video by Macquarie University people (as named in the Video credits). That previous post was primarily about a related plant Cryptostylis subulata

And just for the record, the botanical illustration on the PlantNET site, for this species, Cryptostylis erecta actually illustrates the pollination process in detail.
Click on image to see in full size. 
Note the wasp pollinating the top-right flower, 
and the "reproductive organs" of the flower drawn in detail.

Botanical illustration for Cryptostylis erecta (courtesy of PlantNET)


mick said...

Finally an orchid I know! It's a beauty and your photos are great. Did you use a flash on the close-ups of the flowers - the colors are beautiful.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mick
Not surprised you know that one.
It likes sandy soils in coastal regions.
Yes, I normally use flash, even in daylight, to show the inner workings of the flower. The alternative is a bright outside f flower and a "cavern" of darkness.
But one has to control the aperture and exposure time, to avoid massive over-exposure.
For close-ups I use minimum aperture settings (helps with depth of field too). F40 is my normal setting, for close-ups; and shutter speed of 1/125 sec.
Adjust flash power , if one can.
On close-up shots, full flash power will blow everything out. If you cannot control flash power, use a diffuser (even a tissue). But you need full flash power for the more distant shots, such as the whole plant shots.
I use everything on manual.
Hope those notes help.

mick said...

Thanks Denis it's very good of you to give details like that. Now to try them out! But not today with the hottest day we have had so far! I'm inside with the air conditioning on :-)