I’ve saved a special orchid for Christmas.  We only had one of these growing – at least, we only found one.  Even then, we would  have missed it without our friend’s sharp eyes.   At the time the bud was just on the point of opening. We staked it and visited every day to see it open.  The open flower didn’t last long. Only a matter of days.

According to David L. Jones “Native Orchids of Australia’  beard-orchids grow from tubers, and soaking rains in Autumn are vital in triggering the tuber to grow, with flowers appearing in Spring and early Summer. Apparently, these orchids don’t like weather extremes.

The plant can bear one to nine flowers and ours had only two.  But what spectacular flowers they are!

Similar species are the Copper Beard-Orchid and the Purplish Beard-Orchid. It took me a little bit of time to work out which of these three species our beard-orchid was likely to be. The Copper Beard-Orchid has a similarly coloured beard, but the dorsal sepal is a lighter green and at the lateral sepals are not as heavily striped.  It also has a darker base on the labellum.  The Purplish Beard-Orchid seems to be shaped differently, and also has white hairs at the base of the reddish/copper hairs.

Enjoy the photographs!

Red Beard-Orchid
The top flower bud is just opening, and the lower one shows the open form, with curved dorsal sepal.
Opening Bud
A day or two later, and the lower flower has already finished.
View from Above
The flower viewed from above.