Tag: Australian Native Flowers

Rush-leaf Sun-Orchid (Thelymitra juncifolia) vs. Spotted Sun-Orchid (Thelymitra ixioides)

For many years I have been photographing the Spotted Sun Orchid (Thelymitra ixioides) on our property. I was aware that there was a variation in colour and often in the location of the spots.  Recently, with the help of ‘Bush Gems’ an excellent reference to Victoria’s orchids by Gary Backhouse, I realise there are two species of Sun Orchids located in our region which have spots – the second species being Rush-leaf Sun Orchid Thelymitra juncifolia). Backhouse mentions that Thelymitra jucifolia was first described in 1840 but due to the similarities this species has with  Thelymitra ixioides, it is often overlooked.

Reading through the descriptions of both species, I can see why the Rush-Leaf Sun-Orchid is often confused with and identified as the Spotted Sun-Orchid.  It seems the distinctions are quite fine. Backhouse says:

  • Rush-leaf Sun-Orchids have fewer yellow glands on the column
  • Spotted Sun-Orchids are larger
  • Spotted Sun-Orchids have well-defined spots while Rush-leaf Sun-Orchids have more blurred edges (although both can have few spots or no spots)
  • The tufts on the lateral lobes are generally sparser on the Rush-leaf Sun-orhid
  •  As the flowers of both species grow, the number of yellow glands increases, so this is not a reliable identifier on its own.

As today was blustery and I could not go out and try to photograph the opening sun-orchids, I decided to check back through photograps I had taken in previous years. I think we have both species, but getting to the point of saying “This is definitely a Rush-leaf Sun-Orchid and this is definitely a Spotted Sun-Orchid is tricky. More photographs are required.

Just to add to the confusion, in her text ‘Flora of the Otway Plain and Ranges 1” – one of my favourite references to identify plants – Enid Mayfield calls Thelymitra juncifolia the Large-spotted Sun-Orchid.

For now, I am just going to post a gallery of photographs I have taken on our property of Sun-orchids with spots.  I will continue to try to distinguish between these species. If you have any suggestions for further reading on this topic I would be keen to hear about it.

Purple Beard-orchid (Calochilus robertsonii)

Another orchid to make a first appearance in 2017 was the Purple Beard-orchid.  Two separate plants grew right on the edge of the walking track at the back of our property, and another two on a cleared section near the Brown-clubbed Spider-orchids.  We had seen one Red Beard-orchid in a different area in 2013, and nothing in between. Knowledgeable orchid…

Plain-Lip Spider-orchid (Caladenia clacigera)

We primarily have Brown Clubbed Spider-orchids on our property, but in October 2017 I photographed this Plain-Lip Spider-orchid.  Among a few straggly bracken stems, there were two Plain-lip Spider-orchids, squat and dark compared to the brightly coloured Brown-Clubbed Spider-orchids with their green combs. I missed the orchid season last year, so I don’t know if they were there in 2018.…


Hedge Wattle (Acacia paradoxa)

Over the years we have been here, I have photographed many plants which are waiting to be identified.  I first photographed Hedge Wattle in 2013 when I spotted a spindly branch dotted with yellow flowers in front of a tree I was trying to capture.  In October 2017 I found another specimen of Hedge Wattle in the form of a…


Self-Seeding Cranberry Heath

When we first moved in, almost five years ago now, there were very few native plants around the dam.  We pulled out a heap of Agapanthus plants and a large cactus plant which, to us, were at odds with sclerophyll bushland surrounding it.  Since then, grass grew, kangaroos and wallabies grazed, and each year we find new native plants growing.…


Pale Pink Heath

Common Heath can have white, pink or red flowers.  We don’t have any red flowering heath here, but it is found in a reserve about ten minutes drive down the road. Over the years I have found about 3 or 4 plants with deep pink flowers, but predominantly we have white flowering Heath on our property. In January I found…


Poison Lobelia (Lobelia pratioides)

Summer flowers are very welcome for the small dots of colour they provide among dry grass and bracken.  These Poison Lobelia flowers were growing right on the edge of the dam in sandy, moist soil.  While I have photographed Poison Lobelia in previous years, I have just realised they were not included in the species list for our property.  …

%d bloggers like this: