HUNTER MAIN RANGE – Trip 1 & 2 – 16- 23 October 2020
I knew that Lou was “into” terrestrial orchids, but didn’t have a clue as to what extent! She’s a walking identification book – probably helps that she seems to have photographic memory! She can also pick out a little insignificant orchid from (what seems) miles away! These orchids (and a couple of non orchids) deserve their own post, enjoy!
We spotted these (soon to open) orchids on our walk out of the wilderness on day 3. There were loads in a couple of areas (stands is what you call a group I think). (Photo: Lou)
And then found them again on day 8 – Dotted sun orchids (Thelymitra ixiodes). These are the flowers from the spike above. The orchid flowers between September and December
The Flying Duck Orchid (Caleana major) – found on day 2 when Lou was looking for a pass, then we checked on them again on days 3 and 8, the spike appears to have just one small leaf.
Another Flying Duck, you can see why it gets its name. The flowers appear between September and January and are about 1.5 to 2.5cm in length. Interestingly, one of the first specimens of this orchid to be obtained by Europeans was from Bennelong Point (Sydney) the site of the Opera House, retrieved in 1803! (Photo: Lou)
Bearded orchid (Calochilus platychilus) – we found two different types of these, although the only difference seems to be the height of the spike. The flower was about 2.5cm and the spike about 15-20cm tall and there is only one insignificant leaf. (Photo: Lou)
This might be the dwarf one, or maybe it was just stunted. Apparently, when the fruit that follows the flower matures, there are up to 500 seeds that are blown away in the wind.
The Midget Hooded Orchid (Pterostylis mutica). Didn’t look like an orchid but maybe flowers aren’t fully opened. We could only find one of the spikes, pretty cool (Photo: Lou).
I found one of these when I was sitting on the side of the fire trail on Day 1, but they were all over the place! The Large Mountain Greenhood orchid (Pterostylis monticola). They occur in moist damp places and in the forest. A single flower on a spike about 20cm high and a rosette of leaves. Actually I was seeing a lot of these rosettes in Ettrema, I wonder if they are the leaves of this orchid. Interesting facts: This plant has a fascinating method of ensuring its successful reproduction. It emits a specialised scent to attract the mosquito sized male fungus gnat. As the insect enters the flower, it is thrown inside by the spring loaded lip (labellum) which closes behind it. Escape is prevented by hairs on the edge of the lip. Once inside, the insect feeds on the intoxicating nectar and looks for a way out. To do this, the insect must pass through a sticky tube and then over the pollen which adheres to it. Soon afterward, the labellum falls and the gnat is free to depart. By now, the insect has become addicted to the nectar and flies off looking for more. Bush Tucker value: The underground starchy tubers (paired) are edible and nutritious and can be eaten raw or cooked, though as it kills the plant this is not recommended (www.hunterlandcare.org.au)
NOT an orchid, but this was the first time any of us had seen the flowers of the Sundew (Drosera) (Photo: Lou). There are 194 species of Sundews, not sure which one this is, but we often see it in moist areas and (sadly), they are native to every continent except Antarctica. The Sundew lures, captures, and digests insects using stalked mucilaginous glands covering the leaf surfaces. The insects are used to supplement the poor mineral nutrition of the soil in which the plants grow. Flowers are usually white or pink but Australian Sundew flowers can be orange, red, yellow or metallic violet. Flowers only open one at a time. (photo: Lou) We found these on the side of a rock in the moss.
The Purple Flag (Patersonia occidentalis), not an orchid, but these were so purple (often they are washed out, these were stunning). (Photo: Lou)
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