Saturday, 5 November 2011

Sun orchids in large numbers

This morning (5 November) at 10:52am I noticed a small blue sun orchid on the roadside of Whiskers Creek Road.  This was the first of these I have seen here this year so a photograph was taken.
 This is a close-up of the inner workings of the flower especially the rather dense mop-like tufts.
 This double header flower (the greatest number of flowers I found on a single stem was 5, mainly singles) gives a good look at the shape of the hood.
The leaf bases were rather reddish.  I took this, in conjunction with other attributes mentioned above, to indicate that these were Thelymitra peniculata the Trim Sun Orchid
 In total I counted some 40 plants growing along the Western side of about 700m of the road.  To me this was an astonishing "crop".  I returned to the area about 90 minutes later and many of the flowers had closed over.  Presumably they had been pollinated and, job done, were closing down for a well earned rest.

This rather pink example was still open but I believe it to be the same species despite the apparent lack of hairs.  However, a reader of this post with far more knowledge than myself has suggested that despite the lack of yellow on the arms of the column, it might be T. carnea, the Tiny Pink Sun Orchid.
A key point to this is the importance being at the right place at the right time.  We had walked through this area at 8am and not seen a single orchid flower.  By 1pm many of them were closed and thus inconspicuous!

On touring our property about 1:30 I found a couple of specimens that had not completely closed. 
Although not sun orchids, this set of Leopard Orchids (Diuris pardina) were growing close to the sun orchids on our place so earned a snap.
On 6 November it was pretty warm early in the morning.  As we walked along Whiskers Creek Rd on the way out (approximately 8:15) I didn't notice any sun orchids.  However, as we came back ~30 minutes later I found at least 15 flowers open.  By the time we got home the thermometer on our verandah - in full shade at that time- was showing 21.5C.

A little later in the day (~9:30) I revisited the area on our property where I found 1 or 2 miserable specimens yesterday.  By slightly extending my search  I found at least 30 more plants.  On the way back to the house I found another 2 plants in widely separate areas.  The two images below are from the main group and are intended to show a multifloral plant and to give an idea of their growth habitat.

1 comment:

Denis Wilson said...

Nice find, Martin.
I have only once seen that species, at Mt Rae, near Crookwell.
And I found a pink form just like yours too.
Seems it is a colour-changer, much as with Thel. ixioides.
Nicely documented, incl the red leaf base. Otherwise, it would be very hard to tell apart from Thel. pauciflora.
We had similar weather here, today. Great for Sun Orchids.