Tiger, Tiger

Burning bright,tiger orchid
in the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye,
could frame thy fearful symmetry?  – William Blake

We’re talking orchids again, but this time Tiger Orchids (Diuris sulphurea). O.K. they haven’t flowered yet, but the stems are in the process of reaching up, ready for their day in the sun in late October.

This little gem last season flowered in great abundance, hidden out of sight on a bank 2 metres above the pot hole ridden track that is Spring Valley Road, Flowerdale. Whereas the majority of our roadside reserve has been modified by machinery, horses, mowers, weed infestation and grazing in earlier times, this little spot of around 50 square metres has escaped disturbance.

In the 15 years I have observed this spot I have only ever seen about a dozen tiger orchids flowering at once. Last season however, there were around 120 flowering plants within the 50 square metres.

This orchid has a symbiotic relationship with mycorrhizal  fungi and is perhaps another example of post fire renewal, as this area was lightly burnt in the fires of 2009. tiger orchid1

Micorrhizal associations can be unique, only one species of fungi associating with a particular orchid species. This association assists the plants roots to take up water and nutrients and can form   quite extensive underground networks (hyphae) whose fruiting bodies are observed as mushrooms and other fungi. These associations are especially important in the germination of orchid seedlings.

Apart from the orchids that Ron has reported in his last post, in the past week I spotted what I think is a Lady Finger Orchid (Caladenia ssp), flowering on a moist bank in dappled shade. Stay tuned for further orchid appearances in the next 6 weeks!

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