Monday, August 17, 2009

Wildflowers - Common Orchids of the Anglesea Heathlands

There are many different plant species in the bushland surrounding Anglesea. Many of them are small terrestrial orchids(-they grow in the ground as apposed to Epiphytic orchids which grow on other plants). Victoria has around 360 species of these orchids making it one of the most species rich (of this type of orchid) in the world and in the area around Anglesea over a hundred species grow. They are small to tiny in size and can be challenging to find. Many of them flower in Spring but there are species that flower during the other seasons of the year to. Orchids are among the early flowering plants and they have been found in fossils 80 million years old.
Orchids are flowers with three sepals, three petals (one of which is modified into lip) and instead of stamens and stigmas in a more typical flower, they have a column which is a combination of both. The lips and coloums can be very ornate and are often the visual cues we use to identify them.
Many orchids have complex and specialised reproduction process. Generally speaking flowers offer rewards to their pollinators in the form of nectar or edible pollen. Orchids have evolved a few different strategies to achieve pollination.
Some do it by means of sexual deception. Many have only one pollinator and the insect visiting does so because he mistakes that particular species over and over for his mate and in the process of trying mate with it he gets the pollen attached to himself which is then transported to the next flower he visits. This can happen because in some of these insect species the males mature slightly before the females so the flowers are the closest thing they will see to a female for a little while. It also demonstrates that timing in nature is very important. If the wasps for some reason matured before or after these orchid flowers then nothing would pollinate them.
Although we know about the pollinators of many flowers there is still a great deal we have yet to find out. One of the really common orchids- the Waxlip, we still don't know what pollinates it.
The spider orchids are often associated with wasps trying to mate with them.
Some orchids like some of the sun orchids can self pollinate. There are also those that mimic other flowers that do produce nectar, and so get visited by its pollinator in the expectation that there will be a reward (the nectar). The donkey orchids are very similar to the many pea flowers in the area and so are visited because of a visual similarity. Odour from nectar bearing flowers attracts them to the area but when they get close it is visual.
If we somehow could remove insects from the picture many of these flowers would disappear to. There are many complex relationships between organisms that we have still yet to work out but we should look at each species like a piece of a jigsaw puzzle. Imagine we started with the complete picture and as we encroach on these areas that we don't understand properly we are removing pieces, each time another species disappears the picture is a little less clear. If we loose too many species the picture wont be coherent at all. With the many endangered species here, quite a few in the orchid family, it is time we started thinking more about how we look after what we still have.

0. Flying Duck orchid

1. Hyacinth orchid

2. Hyacinth orchid

3. Hyacinth orchid

4. Hyacinth orchid

5. Hyacinth orchid.

6. Sun orchid - Great Sun Orchid. Thelymitra aristata

7. Sun orchid- Great Sun Orchid.

8. Sun orchid- Great Sun Orchid. These orchids are some of the most impressive because the spikes of flowers are taller than most other sun orchids and they generally have a lot of flowers on the spike. They only open on really nice warm sunny days so it is like they come from nowhere. (sun orchids get their name from the fact that they genarally need warm sunny days to open.

9. Sun orchid

10. Pale-flowered Sun orchid. T. pallidiflora

11. Pale-flowered Sun Orchid.

12. Blue Star Sun orchid. T. holmesii

13. White Sun orchid

14. Sun orchid- Large Spotted Sun Orchid

15. Sun orchid

16. Sun orchid- Large-spotted Sun Orchid. T. juncifolia

17. Sun orchid

18. Twisted Sun orchid. T.flexuosa

19. Sun orchid - Salmon Sun orchid. T.rubra

20. Blotched Sun orchid. T.benthamiana

23. Sun orchid- Rabbit Ears. T.antennifera

24. Bluebeard orchid. Caladenia deformis

25. Onion orchid- the flowers of these orchids are only a few mm across. The plant itself is only 4-5inches /100 -120 mm and are easily overlooked. Sometimes these little green plants are so numerous and the green stands out that they look like weeds. Years ago when I first found these I was really surprised to see that they were actually tiny orchids.

26. Notched Onion orchid

27. Leek orchid

28. Leek orchid

29. Donkey orchid. Diurus orientis

30. Leopard orchid. D.pardina

31. Leopard orchid

32. Beard orchid

33. Bearded

34. Fringed Hare orchid. Leporella fimbriatum

35. Horned orchid. Orthoceras strictum

36. Horned orchid

37. Common Bird Orchid. Chiloglottis valida

38. Gnat orchid. Cyrtostylis reniformis

39. Mayfly orchid. Acianthus caudatus

40. Mayfly orchid

41. Mayfly orchid

42. Mosquito orchid. A.pusillus

43. Spider orchid - Heart orchid. Caladenia cardiochila

44. Spider orchid

45. Spider orchid

46. Spider orchid

47. Spider orchid

48. Spider orchid

49. Spider orchid - Greencomb Spider orchid

50. Spider orchid- close up of Greencomb Spider orchid.

51. Waxlip orchid. Glossodia major

52. Waxlip orchids. They are usually a blue/mauve colour but as seen in this pic above they can vary from white to mauve.

53. Tiny Caladenia. Caladenia pusilla

54. Blue Fingers. C.caerulea This is not a common orchid in Anglesea. This is the only one I have found - the blue colour stands out from its surroundings.

55. Plain Fingers. Caladenia sp. aff. vulgaris

56. Angahook Fingers. C.maritima

57. Pink Fairy. C.latifolia

58. Tall Greenhood. Pterostylis melagramma

59. Nodding Greenhood. P.nutans

60.Large Bearded Greenhood. Pterostylis sp. aff. plumosa 3 (Anglesea)