LIMESTONE SPIDER ORCHID
(Photos: E. Cousins, a patch at Cape Jervis, closer view of the flower)
We were lucky enough to see an extensive colony of these little beauties flowering at Cape Jervis in late August. A spider orchid … but which one? We first thought the veined spider orchid (Caladenia reticulate) but the fringe is white not burgundy. Other contenders were ruled out by size or locations. Not being orchid experts, we searched several books, looked at countless images online and finally got the definitive answer from Rosalie Lawrence, courtesy of SA Natureteers. Rosalie tells us this orchid is widespread in SA, but not the Adelaide Hills. Guess they don’t have the limestone base Cape Jervis has! Among the features distinguishing this from the Arachnorchis (Spiders) family is that there are not two yellow glands at the base of the column, just a yellow glow. Many thanks, Rosalie!!
(Photos: C. Schultz, a single flower, and a small clump with lots of buds at Cape Jervis)
This scented South African garden plant is now naturalised in many areas of bushland in South Australia. You won’t see it just yet though. Dormant over summer, the underground corms (bulbs) are waiting for winter-spring, when the soft, pale green leaves appear. These individually are flat, but together form a fan shape. The flowering stem can grow to about 40 cm, with kinks just before each of the flowers. The kinks give the flower head a look like a pan flute! The 6 ‘petals’ of the flowers are 3-5mm long, fused together at the base. In the bushland runaways, these petals are normally a creamy white, with possible hints of purple. Modern hybrid cultivars often come in many other colours but are not as scented though.