Wax-lip 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

Move over lilies—here come the orchids

There is a certain mystique about orchids. For me it is the fantastical, almost alien shapes and stunning colours. As a kid my father used to grow tropical orchids in a gas-heated glass house in the backyard. When they flowered he used to give them away to the neighbours. He was the toast of the town.

Orchids are one of the two largest families of flowering plants in the world. There are more than 800 species of Australian orchids, most of them only found in this country—and there are more discovered each year. During the drought and pre-bushfire years the number of native ground orchids we found on our property you could count on the fingers of one hand. However since the rains and fire that number has dramatically increased. This year looks like it will be a bumper year, if the number of orchids leaves popping out of the ground is any indication.

DSCN3568 - CopyThe first to raise its head this season is the Green-comb Spider Orchid (Arachnochis dilatata), pictured above. It was previously known as Caladenia dilatata. The photo shows the origin of the name—green comb-like structures on either side of the flower. The Indigenous name is koolin, and its tubers are considered a food source.

In the upcoming weeks the orchids will start flowering (if the rabbits don’t get them first). As showy as the lilies are at the moment, for me the orchid reigns supreme.

P.S. On my walk around the property before the Grand Final opening bounce, I spied a touch of purple (maybe an omen for Freo). For the first time ever, a Wax-lip Orchid (Glossodia major), see below. DSCN3582 - Copy