Click on the photos to check the identification of these locals
Our native orchids are truly fascinating
They are so easily overlooked yet when noticed, and closely inspected, their delicacy, structure and colours are astonishingly beautiful. They are a great gateway to the world of ‘macro-nature’ and get us on our knees and into the world of the spiders, insects and other plants that live close to the earth, ‘below knee-height’.
The Environmental Living Zone (ELZ), which incorporates the Bend of Islands, including the Co-op, is ‘orchid rich’, although it takes a lot of searching to appreciate the full extent of this richness. Most species only appear for a fleeting few weeks a year. Many reappear in the same location each year, others are much more elusive.
Finding Orchids on the Co-op
The ELZ Orchid List , with specific reference to the Co-op, has been compiled from all known previous records in the ELZ. The list is based in the taxonomy currently accepted in Victoria. The comprehensive revision of Australian orchid taxonomy presented in Jones 2006 has not been accepted in Victoria but is included in the list, to facilitate use with references that have adopted it.
The list is presented in 2 separate single-page formats for alphabetical listing of Common Names and of Scientific Names. It has the following features:
reference to the species numbers of both the Co-op Orchid Book and the HEROG
the number of times each species has been recorded in each month since 2012 to give a good indication of flowering time and rarity
set out for easy recording of monthly observations of each species throughout the year.
Intended to be up-dated at the end of each year.
Suggested identification strategy when you come across an unfamiliar Orchid
The initial challenge is to find an ‘approximate identification’ to narrow the field of likely contenders for more detailed assessment.
Take some photos to capture the main elements of the plant:
- Flower details from different angles
- Overall plant
Note plant details
- size of flower
- height of plant
- any particular features that are unusual
Record the location, to the extent that you are sure that you will be able return and find it.
Option 1 - Take photos on your smart phone and try one of the AI apps (e.g. the ‘Lens’ feature in Google Photos)
Option 2 - if you have internet access in the field:
Go to ELZ Orchid List to see all the likely contenders and usual flowering times.
- Then go to Yarra Ranges Local Plant Directory which has most of the Bend of Islands species.
- Scroll through the thumbnail photos (5 pages) until you find a match for your plant
- Open the species page and check the photos and details with the plant you have found
If you want to check more details then go to link to Flora of Victoria
- Click ‘Child’ link and select the Genus from the list
- Click ‘Select Child’ link and select the Species from the list
- Check text or click on ‘images’ link to see photos
If you do not have internet access in the field
- Double check that you have sufficient photos and location details etc.
- Go through the process above, when you have internet access
If this process does not lead to a confident identification, you may need to go to some of the more detailed references listed below. Some species, the Sun Orchids for example, require detailed keying out of fine details to obtain a confident ID.
If you are still in trouble, email the details to someone with good knowledge of orchids and hopefully they can help. They may want to see the orchid so make sure you have sufficient details to re-find it.
The Work of Dean Rouse
We are indeed lucky that Dean Rouse, in his youth, combed the Co-op and surrounding area in the 1980s with his grandmother, Hazel Rich, who was a member of the Co-op. Dean’s photographs of more than 50 species were donated to the Co-op to form the basis of the Field Guide to the Orchids of Round the Bend Conservation Co-operative, produced in 1999. Since then, a small group of local enthusiasts have been searching the area, trying to find the species listed. In doing this we have found a few others to add to the list.
In 2007 Dean produced the Hazel Easter Rich Orchid Field Guide dedicated to his grandmother Hazel Rich, who passed away in 2006. The guide is based primarily on the orchid lists for Round the Bend Conservation Co-operative compiled by Hazel and Dean, and the list for One Tree Hill Reserve compiled by Cam Beardsell. Other orchid species with highly restricted distributions within the Christmas Hills region are also listed in the guide. Dean has generously donated this guide for future use by the Co-op and BICA. All material remains the copyright of Dean Rouse.
The Co-op thanks Dean Rouse for his generous gift of this document and for sharing his knowledge of our local orchids.
In 2018 Nillumbik Shire Council established a 30 x 30 exclusion plot on the Co-op for the reintroduction of the Wine-lipped Spider-orchid Arachnorchis oenochila. The Co-op was selected for its high biodiversity habitat and Co-op members are assisting in the many tasks involved in this comprehensive project.
Get Out There!
Searching for orchids is a great excuse to explore the wonders of our beautiful area. Any time you go out, if you don’t find an orchid, you are sure to find something else to fascinate, like a wildflower, an insect that may be acting unusually, some strange fungi or whatever.
If anyone finds an unusual orchid, or needs some identification assistance, email Frank Pierce as a first step. Referral to others with better knowledge may be required!
Suggested Further References
‘A Complete Guide to Native Orchids of Australia, Including the Island Territories’ - Jones, D.L. 2006
‘Wild Orchids of Victoria’ - J Jeanes & G Backhouse – 2006
‘Spider orchids - the Genus Caladenia and its Relatives in Australia’ - 2011. A DVD by Gary Backhouse (Available from Gary by email
Here are some websites with lots of photos that are very useful to aid identification:
Flora of Victoria - good detail pages for all ELZ species
Yarra Ranges Local Plant Directory - good detail pages for most species with thumbnail summary
Retired Aussies - a very good range of photos of all species