For the second time this week, I am researching an endangered species of Sun Orchid which does not appear in my field guide – this time it’s the Grassland Sun Orchid. I can only find a couple of photographs to match it against on Retired Aussies and on EcoLink, both of which have only sketchy identification characteristics. From the information I have, I believe my photograph is of the Grassland Sun Orchid, but I am happy to be corrected.
After matching my photograph to photos on the above web sites, my first check was to research where the Grassland Sun Orchid grows. The Atlas of Living Australia reveals that it has a very limited range and that it does grow in our area.
Secondly, I tried to verify if the Grassland Sun Orchid actually is an endangered species. Using the EcoLink reference to DEPI (Department of Environment and Primary Industries in Victoria) I searched for their official documentation and found this PDF listing all of the rare and endangerred plant species in Victoria. While the Grassland Sun Orchid does appear on it, I have discovered there are two other rating systems for threatened species, and the plant is not given a rating by the other two. Rather than expanding on this now, I will do a subsequent post explaining the systems of classification for threatened species when I work it out.
From my own observation, the Grassland Sun Orchid seems to have three lobes (petals) a slightly different colour than the primary three. The column seems to have a smaller amount of colour at the cap than other sun orchids, with just a thin band of brownish purple and a paler yellow at the tip.
I’ll be very interested to find out more about this Sun Orchid and welcome comments from orchid experts and enthusiasts.