TERRESTRIAL ORCHIDS - Appearances can be deceiving.

Thelymitra ixioides
 Spotted Sun Orchid      Thelymitra ixioides
These delicate looking plants are renowned for thriving in the most unlikely situations. (A native orchid was found within 200m of the General Post Office of Hobart in 1992!) There are few places in Tasmania where orchids cannot be found and there is no month of the year when an orchid cannot be found in flower. One of the mysteries faced by an orchid enthusiast is to explain the distribution of orchids. Generally sandy heathlands are good, but not always. Generally open woodlands are good, but not always. Generally being close to the coast is good, but not too close. Generally grassy places are bad, but with some notable exceptions. It is not easy to give a formula which will lead to an orchid haven. The majority of Tasmania's orchid species are found in the warmer lowland areas, especially close to the sea. However, there are species found mainly in sub-alpine and alpine areas, a few found mainly in rainforest, some found in marshes and some even prefer growing in water, at the edge of pools. The orchid pictured at left grows in open woodland and heathland situated in lowland areas.

There is no doubt that the peak flowering time for orchids in lowland Tasmania is during the spring. Probably the best month is October, when some coastal locations could offer ten or more species in flower. For example, it is not difficult to find ten different species in flower on Flinders island in October. In higher parts of the State flowering is concentrated in early summer, but several lowland species also prefer summer. The start of autumn heralds a new collection of orchids in flower. Generally the winter-flowering orchids are small, being pollinated by small fungus midges, but there are some exceptions. The orchids pictured here are all spring flowers.


Calochilus herbaceus (Left) Pale Bearded Orchid
          Calochilus herbaceus

(Right) Tall Sun Orchid
           Thelymitra media

Thelymitra media

A few native orchid species have taken to growing in suburban gardens. Unfortunately they are not the prettiest orchids. The common onion orchid and the slender sun orchid are the most likely species in an established garden. In a newly established garden orchids can persist for a while, like some bearded orchids. Other species of orchid can be cultivated given appropriate conditions, but many native species fade away quickly if transplanted from the bush. People keen on trying to cultivate Tasmania's native orchids are advised to contact their local orchid society or a specialist nursery.

Microtis unifolia

MICROTIS UNIFOLIA               
Common Onion Orchid

A stem with an onion-like leaf and spike of crowded tiny green flowers. The short labellum has a pale undulating margin.
Flowers are about 5mm in length. Most of this is the ovary, with a hooded dorsal sepal of about 2mm at the end of the ovary. The other parts of the flowers are no longer than 2mm. Flower spikes about 30cm tall.

Flowering period late spring to early summer.

Widespread and common.

Tas, Vic, NSW, Qld, SA, NZ

Chiloglottis platychila

Bird Orchid (Pale-flowered form)

The single-flower resembles the gaping mouth of a young bird.
The labellum is usually green-brown.

A large callus with large rounded top is at the base of the labellum,
with a second large callus near the centre of the labellum. 
Smaller calli occur between these.

Flowering period varies with altitude from spring to early summer
and locally occurs in the foothills of Mt Wellington, but otherwise
is widely distributed in north-west Tasmania.



  Diuris pardina
Text for this item adapted from the Society's Plant Identikit
(Phil Collier)

DIURIS PARDINA                        Orchidaceae
Leopard Orchid

Diuris plants have a few grass-like leaves and a slender stem with usually up to five flowers. 

The dorsal sepal and yellow-winged labellum form the centre of the flowers. The rear set of the petals and centre of the flower are blotched with brown spots.

Flowering mostly early spring.

Habitat - heath and woodlands in the eastern half of Tasmania, often in rocky places.   

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