Helmet-orchids

Pretty good semaphore!

Helmet-orchids are popping out of the ground in our Boho South, Manna Gum-Peppermint-Blue Gum forest in exceptional numbers this year. Even in the last few dry years we’ve usually found a few, but this year there seem to be plenty.

This species has a single, shiny, flat leaf up to 20mm diam. and the helmeted flower shines like a light advertising a runway. The helmet has toothed lower margins. There are several similar species of Helmet-orchid that are all very similar and several new species have been recently described. This species used to be in the genus Corybas, but is now Corysanthes (as far as I can tell). Its similar to both Corysanthes diemenica and C. dilatatus.

But like so many orchids, they’re small and easily overlooked; they often occur as colonies. Orchids are very special plants.

A colony of Helmet-orchids

Did you know that…

  • Orchid seed germination & growth relies on ‘infection’ by mycorrhizal fungi Some orchid species have even lost the ability to photosynthesize, being completely dependent on their fungi for energy.
  • Most orchids have specialised relationships with pollinating animals, with many species each only pollinated by a single species.
  • Deceptive pollination systems are common among orchids, the most common form of deceit being food mimicry. At least six lineages of Australian orchids have independently evolved sexual deception. In this syndrome, a flower mimics the female of the pollinating insect species. Male insects are attracted to the flower and attempt to mate with it, and pollinate it in the process.
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