Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Parson's bands

You'd think that an orchid with pure white petals would stand out from the crowd wouldn't you. But not necessarily so.

Yesterday I went looking for autumn orchids (and whatever else was around) in the open, heathy forest behind Anglsea. It's not the sort of heath there that you have trouble walking through but rather more open, with lots of bare spaces and leaf litter. I followed kangaroo tracks, and at one stage was under close scrutiny by two kangaroos. (You know how they stop and prop with their chests puffed out and their heads turned your way, almost invisible amongst the trees despite their proximity?)

After about ten minutes I got my eye in, which means I could actually see what I was looking for, and started to see the minutiae on the forest floor. Including the little white orchid that goes by the glorious name of Parson's Bands Eriochilus cucullatus. The reason for the common name is obvious, the two white sepals looking like the collar of a parson. It's also called the Leafless Parson's Bands, because the leaf develops after flowering, but the ones I saw each had a tiny oval-shaped leaf hugging the ground. Despite the white sepals these little orchids are quite difficult to see, but well worth looking for.

1 comment:

Denis Wilson said...

I have seen these little Orchids with leaves just forming at the base, while flowers are mature. There is another one which grows on granite, which has a fully developed leaf at flowering time. The back of the leaf of that species is purple. Yours would have had a back of the leaf which is green or green with a purple edge only.