Orchid events

Every summer the tussocky forest floor becomes decorated with the pink and magenta spires of native Hyacinth Orchids (Dipodium punctatum). Every other year I have seen only solitary spires, and mostly that is so this summer, except for this clump of four. Their combined pinkness was so noticeable from a distance that it drew me to investigate.

Closer to the cabin, my rescued and relocated clump of indigenous King Orchids (Dendrobium speciosum) did not flower at all this  summer. Instead it seems to be putting all its energy into fat new leaf shoots, about a dozen in all, stretching up and out of their papery white sheaths.

I especially like the way the small pale green mouths first open, like baby birds, tongues ready to lap any moisture that falls. Their timing is perfect since we have had rain, and an extreme drop in temperatures — from 30ºC one day to 15ºC the next.

Orchid fruit

orchid-fruit-1The spectacular flower spikes of my King Orchids are long devoid of their blossoms, studded with only the tiny gold memories of where they were once attached.

But last week I noticed that three of the spikes bore ribbed green lumps at their ends. One had twins!
orchid-fruit-2Up close they are elegantly sculpted, puffed and blown up like gooseberry paper cases, but no delicacy there; firm and fleshy, with a gold stripe down each rib, smart as the Tin Soldier’s trousers.

A new orchid

potato-orchidThe forest here never ceases to surprise me with the apparently infinite number of plants or fungi that I have never seen before.
This tall orchid has appeared right beside the grey gum which is right beside the outdoor loo. I walk past here daily — did I miss it yesterday or has it come overnight, encouraged by the damp weather?

It is a total stranger to me — and there is a whole little family of them shooting up through the fallen leaves and bark. At first glance, the shorter ones, unopened, looked like they could be fungi.

My orchid book says it is a Potato Orchid, and I can see why, for the knobbly brown buds. But the opened flowers are prettier than potatoes — their shyly flared frills are fresh and white against the café au lait of their bells. (There is another orchid with the same common name and it looks nothing at all like a potato!)

The botanical name is Gastrodia sesamoides — meaning like sesame seeds — but how? If they are going to name the flower for the bud I’d say peanut rather than either potato or sesame.

I simply cannot call it a Potato Orchid.

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