Slender Onion Orchid 2

Slender Onion-orchid (Microtis parviflora)

In mid-December, when I bent down to look at a Pale Vanilla-Lily flower, I noticed these Slender Onion Orchid spikes nearby.  Thankfully my friend had alerted me to look for them, or I may have just passed them over. The flowers are so tiny that they don’t immediately catch the eye.

Among the information I have read about the Slender Onion Orchid is that it is an early coloniser,  especially in locations like dam walls, and that is exactly where it was growing on our property.  A number of Onion Orchids and Leek Orchids (which look similar) exist, and characteristic shapes of the columns and sepals are the way experts can identify one species from the other.  I must say that I marvel at their ability to even see these details, let alone distinguish slight differences.  I have so much more to learn when it comes to Orchids.

The shots below were taken for identification purposes.  I intended to go back and take some better photos, but for some reason, I never did.    (Sigh) next year!

Slender Onion Orchid 1
We had several Slender Onion Orchids growing in small clumps. The flower spikes were between 10 and 20 cm high
Slender Onion Orchid 2
Depending on the light, the flowers looked green, greenish white, or a greenish lemon colour. I did not manage to distinguish if there were more than one species growing together.

2 thoughts on “Slender Onion-orchid (Microtis parviflora)

  1. Now this is a harder family to identify. They require a good macro lens to get in nice and close! The distinguishing features are right inside those tiny little flowers. 😉

    1. Yes, they are much harder! I did my best with an old copy of David L Jones “Native Orchids of Australia” and my wonderfully knowledgeable friend B.J as my guides. The edition of Jones I have does not have a photograph for every species, but exquisite line drawings of the inner shape of the flower – as you say, without a Macro lens it is impossible to see this detail. 🙂 Lisa

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