Orchids

August KRM Branch meeting

With spring just a couple of weeks away the topic for the August meeting was orchids, and the speaker was Colin Prickett. This topic was scheduled to provide extra motivation for audience members to get out and about in reserves throughout the South-west in search of these special plants.

In his introduction Colin stated that the presentation would highlight the incredible diversity within the orchid family, Orchidaceae, here in South-west WA and also show the diversity within each genus as well. Colin’s presentation consisted of a series of photographs of WA’s native orchids compiled over the past decade and a half.

The first series of photographs were of the autumn flowering orchids, including the Bunny Orchids, Hare Orchid and Leafless Orchid. These were followed by species within the Pterostylis genus. These included the Shell Orchids (two species were shown), Snail Orchids (three species), Greenhoods (four species), Jug Orchid and Bird Orchids.

Next came the extensive range of Caladenia species, which were broken into two groups. The first group was the Fairy Orchids: Pink and Little Pink Fairy, Pink Fan, Cowslip Orchid plus hybrids between the Pink Fairy and Cowslips. The second group contained the Spider Orchids with the presentation featuring a large variety from this large group. Ranging from the diminutive Winter Spider Orchid to the aptly named Giant Spider Orchid plus Mantis Orchids this group displays incredible diversity in appearance, colour and size.

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Next came the extensive range of Caladenia species, which were broken into two groups. The first group was the Fairy Orchids: Pink and Little Pink Fairy, Pink Fan, Cowslip Orchid plus hybrids between the Pink Fairy and Cowslips. The second group contained the Spider Orchids with the presentation featuring a large variety from this large group. Ranging from the diminutive Winter Spider Orchid to the aptly named Giant Spider Orchid plus Mantis Orchids this group displays incredible diversity in appearance, colour and size.

Margaret River Spider Orchid C Prickett

Another diverse group followed, the Donkey Orchids, with Winter Donkey, Common Donkey and Purple Pansy amongst the species shown. These were followed by images of Blue Orchids including the Blue Fairy, Silky Blue, Blue China and Pale China Orchids in this grouping. The Purple and Pink Enamels were then shown.

Another diverse and beautiful group, the Sun Orchids, was next and this featured Queen of Sheba and Cleopatra’s Needles together with Leopard Orchid, Scented Sun Orchid, Custard Orchid and several other species were presented. The next grouping, the Duck and Hammer Orchids highlighted how orchids maximize the probability of pollination by evolving to have the appearance of a flightless female wasp, thereby attracting the winged male wasps that transfer pollen from plant to plant. The images from this grouping included Glossy-leaved Hammer Orchid, Warty Hammer Orchid, King in His Carriage, Dwarf Hammer Orchid and Narrow-lipped Hammer Orchid as well as Flying Duck and Hort’s Duck and the Elbow Orchid.

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The Leek Orchids were then presented, again showing a diverse range from the small Autumn Leek and Little Laughing Leek, the medium sized Fringed Leek and Yawning Leek to the 1 metre-plus Christmas Leek. The final grouping had a varied range that included Helmet Orchids (Western Helmet, Sandhill Helmet and Crystal Helmet), Midge Orchid, Sugar Orchid, Rabbit Orchid, Rattle Beaks, Red Beaks and Slipper Orchid.

Western Helmet Orchid C Prickett)

Colin summed up his presentation with the comment that the images represented only a fraction of the 400 plus species found in WA and that he would continue the search for other species to add to his image collection.

Colin Prickett

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