Monday, 28 September 2015

Dry woodland orchids continued.....

Wax Lip Orchid Glossodia major
There seem to be more and more orchids coming into bloom every day at the moment in the Canberra woodlands. Today the forest floor was peppered with blue dots of wax lip orchids in numerous colonies. The blue of these flowers is so intense, and really emphasised, by the the grey leaf and bark litter that they grow amongst. Although they are not as obvious as would seem as the strong sunshine bounces off the ground cover, making it difficult for human eyes to discern the colours in the brightness.

Dry woodland orchid habitat in Canberra 
Also, the orchids are only about 20cm tall, shorter than the grasses, but as one walks through the grass, the flowers appear into view on looking down into the sward. One after another.

A cluster of three Wax Lip Orchids - two still in bud
The most I saw in any one cluster was perhaps seven or eight, but the clusters are only part of larger colonies of twenty, forty, or more flower spikes. Then there will be a gap of a few hundred metres before another colony appears out of the grass.

A typical view looking down on these forest-floor orchids
The other orchid species I saw today, but not previously this year, was the brown caps. There were fewer of them showing and being white, they were probably less noticeable. All the more rewarding to see.

Brown Caps Orchid Caledenia ustuluta
This group were growing on the top of a gully bank, between low-lying shrubs and if not in flower they would be difficult to pick out from the foliage.

Profile of a Brown Caps Orchid flower
The detailed structure of orchid flowers are famous, and bewildering in their variety, with each feature having evolved for a reason to help the species cross-fertilize. They are fascinating when viewed up close, singly or in multiple flower-heads on one stem. No wonder they have so many human admirers.

A stem of Brown Caps Orchids with four flower heads 

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