tiger orchid

Seasons come and go


The traditional four seasons don’t really figure when you live in an area such as Flowerdale. With an early summer coming on and the grass curing very quickly, we’ve had a very short orchid season. These beautiful gems of our roadsides and un-grazed open bushland have all but finished for the year.tiger orchid1

One of my favourite roadside sites that contains tiger orchids, nodding greenhoods, onion orchids and small sun orchids is on an embankment in an area that was given some attention by the Shire this year.IMG_5948 Last month for the first time in many years the roadsides were slashed here which would be welcomed by some who worry about potential fire fuel load with hot dry days upon us. For others, it was disappointing to see many small shrubs and herbaceous plants such as Narrow- leaf Bitter Pea and Austral Indigo reduced to mulch. A conversation with the Shire worker suggested that putting up signage or other indicators of significant areas known to locals would greatly assist their approach. With that in mind our group contacted our Upper Goulburn Landcare Co-ordinator Chris Cobern, who assisted me in putting in place a sign that may help protect an area of diverse ground flora and encourage other locals to look more closely at what they may have on their roadsides. In 2013 I counted 120 Tiger orchid individuals on this site, this year I counted 118. I also noticed the Tiger orchid in a number of other sites around Flowerdale.

Significant roadside site

Recently I have been fortunate to work with volunteers alongside Chris  Cobern  on fence building in the Mickleham/Kilmore fire affected areas (Feb. 2014) of Willowmavin/Kilmore assisting landholders in the South West Goulburn Landcare Network area. As with Flowerdale after the 2009 fires, I have noticed prolific flowering of orchids, in particular Golden Moths (Diuris chryseopsis) along the roadsides in the fire affected areas of the Mitchell Shire.DSC_0043

On a recent walk through the bush at Dixons Creek I photographed a beautiful orchid commonly called the Wax lip Orchid (Glossodia major). Definitely a gem.IMG_5963

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!