Friday, 19 April 2013

Four mid-Autumn Orchids Flowering on Barrm Birmm

Walk in the foothill forests in mid-Autumn and you'd think hardly anything is flowering. But if you know where to look ... I found four tiny orchid species flowering on the amazing Barrm Birrm land, in Riddells Creek.

I wasn't looking for anything in particular, just out for a walk with the kids during their Easter school holidays (April 12). If anything, I was looking for the last of the dragonflies for the season and spider hunting wasps.

The first orchid I came across was the tiny-flowered Corunastylis morrisii (Bearded Midge-orchid):

Having seen the Midge Orchid, I then realised that I knew of a nearby colony of what I call Autumn Greenhoods (or Tiny Greenhoods) from previous years and I thought they might be flowering too, and sure enough they were. We think the species name is Pterostylis sp. aff. parviflora (Southern Victoria) or Red-tip Greenhood (parviflora means small flowers):

Then I started wondering about other orchid species that might be in flower now. Next I remembered an orchid I've only seen occasionally, only in March, and only in a very small area of a shady, damp part of Barrm Birrm. But there it was, Eriochilus cucullatus (Parson's Bands) - another tiny flower but in close-up it is quite amazing. 

Finally, realising I was on a roll, if the Bearded Midge-orchid was in flower I thought there is a good chance the other Midge Orchid species known on Barrm Birrm was also in flower. This species is a nightmare to find because it is so small it is almost invisible. But I went to a place where I'd seen it before and after a short search I spotted one, Corunastylis despectans (Sharp Midge-orchid):

My guess is this last orchid could be commonplace, but it is so ridiculously small it is rarely seen. Even when I know where to look, it takes me a few minutes to spot one!

Barrm Birrm is an amazing place.

1 comment:

  1. Note how much the midge-orchids actually look like insects. My guess is that they attract particular species of insects to pollinate them. The next photographic challenge is to try to catch the pollinators in the act of trying to mate with the flowers. Presumably this would be a coup like catching the courting flies on the huge fungus!