Orchids at Kurri Kurri with Gary Backhouse

Photo: Stylidium graminifolium K Sparrow Gary Backhouse, one of Victoria's leading orchid experts and co-author of the book "The Orchids of Victoria" visited the block on Sunday 17th September 2000 with John Sherwood. He found several new species to add to the plants list and could recognise them from seeing them even when they are not in flower! Here are Gary's comments about our orchid flora.

Orchids found on the block 17th September 2000

Corybas species (leaves only) - helmet-orchid, most likely either Corybas diemenicus or Corybas incurvus. Both are common species, winter-flowering, and preferring sheltered, damp, shaded conditions, and can form large colonies.

Leptoceras menziesii (leaves only) - Hare Orchid. A common species often forming large colonies, and flowers in spring but is a fire stimulated species and is usually seen in flower only after hot fires the previous summer. Very occasionally the odd plant may flower in the absence of fire. Note that 'cool' burns done in late autumn, winter or spring will almost certainly not stimulate the species to flower, but may well damage colonies and retard plant growth (this comment applies to most orchids).

Photo: Pterostylis melagramma K Sparrow Pterostylis melagramma (old name P. longifolia) - Tall Greenhood. A widespread, common winter-early spring flowering species.

Pterostylis nutans - Nodding Greenhood. A common, widespread winter-early spring flowering species, often forming large colonies.

Pterostylis species (rosette only) - probably P. pedunculata - Maroonhood

Thelymitra species (in bud) - can't tell which one until it flowers. Most sun-orchids usually only open on warm humid days, and if the weather is cool, will often self-pollinate and not open at all, which is very frustrating when trying to identify which species you have.

Another species you could expect to find there is the Common Bird-orchid Chilogiottis valida, growing in damp, shaded areas and flowering in spring (October-November). A colony-forming species, it can be recognised when not in flower by the two light green elliptical leaves on short stalks.

Orchids previously recorded for the block.

Photo: Cryptostylis subulata K Sparrow Cryptostylis subulata, - leaves could not be relocated.

Dipodium punctatum - this is most likely Dipodium roseum - check Backhouse and Jeanes "The Orchids of Victoria" to distinguish between the two species (it's pretty easy to tell them apart).

A note on slashing - the best time, with respect to orchids, is to slash in late summer-early autumn, when most orchids have long finished flowering and setting seed, and the soil is drier and not as prone to compaction as it is when wet. This applies to most, but not all, orchids for instance, species such as Dipodium, hyacinth-orchids and Cryptostylis, tongue-orchids that do flower in summer-autumn will need to be protected (eg. marked and caged) from slashing.

Gary Backhouse
Principal Policy Analyst - Flora and Fauna Directorate,
Parks Flora and Fauna
Department of Natural Resources and Environment 1
4th Floor, 8 Nicholson St East Melbourne 3002

More from Gary Backhouse (via email to Tom McRae):
The Short Spider-orchid Caladenia brachyscapa is known only from the Naringal area, growing in Messmate Stringybark forest, and has not been located since it was first collected in the 1950s- the type locality is apparently now cleared. A photo of a herbarium specimen is in our book. It flowers in October, and you could find it in any of the forest blocks remaining in the district. It would probably grow in clearings, along tracks and on slashed breaks etc, where there is moderate-high light levels, rather than under the forest canopy in deep shade. It's certainly worth keeping your eye out for over the next month or so.


Original Design by productions.
July 13th 1999
Redesigned by Kevspa Designs March 2007.