Sunday, 24 May 2009

Mosquito Orchid on Blue Fish Point


The walk between Blue Fish Drive - more prosaically known as the road to North Head Sewage Treatment Plant - and Shelly Beach is a cracker in spring if you like wildflowers. Carpets of flannel flowers dotted with spider flowers, banksias and all the other heathland species you expect to find around Sydney.

This time of year it's a little more subdued, but only just. Plenty of Native Fuschia (Epacris longiflora) and Sunshine or Port Jackson Wattle (Acacia terminalis) in flower, as well as the Red Spider Flower (Grevillea speciosa) and the flush pink of Crowea saligna. Also a group of charming little red, gilled toadstools under the leaf litter.

I was actually on the look out for orchids today. I'd seen the Black Bootlace Orchid (Erythrorchis cassythoides) there in October a few years ago. Although scattered around Sydney, I hadn't seen this dark-stemmed, climbing parasitic orchid before.

This time of year I wouldn't have expected much - perhaps a greenhood or two, maybe a Corybas or if lucky a Midge Orchid (Genoplesium or Corunastylis). As in every heathland near here, there were Cyrtostylis leaves, but not flowers. The only orchid in flower was the Large Mosquito Orchid (Acianthus fornicatus), a very common orchid locally although you have to take your focus from the brash colours of the shrubs and bushes to dull green leaves at ground level with tiny brown and purple flowering stems.

After all the rain, the hanging swamps (my lead picture in this posting) were looking particularly beautiful, especially looking across them to Shelly Beach.

Just for completeness, here is a picture of the Mosquito Orchid from today, followed by the Black Bootlace Orchid from late spring in 2007.

2 comments:

Bowie said...

There are some fantastic Erythrorchis at Sugarloaf reserve in Middle Cove. Noticed them yesterday, amazing!

Tim Entwisle said...

Lovely! Must take a look.