Most people with even a mild interest in the natural world will have a list of indicator species. Some of us don’t like to declare the arrival of spring until we have heard the first Oriole calling, while we all recognize winter has arrived when we see that first brilliant red flash of a Scarlet Robin.
Photos and words by ‘Gouldiae’.
Others know autumn is upon us when they hear the siren starting the first football game of the season!
A favourite harbinger of autumn of mine is the appearance of the Parson’s Bands Orchid. This common but often missed terrestrial orchid is tiny (see image below) and frequently appears covered by understory scrub.
Victoria is blessed with a remarkably rich list of flora, with more than 360 recognised species. The state only covers about three per cent of Australia’s land mass but the diversity of our habitats and climate ensures we have nearly 30 per cent of the nation’s orchid species.
The common name of Eriochilis cucullatus is derived from its similar appearance to the Geneva bands of the vestments worn by the clerics in Regency times.
Particular terrestrial orchid species have a specialised symbiotic relationship with particular fungi and sometimes require very particular pollinating insects. These relationships can be very complex and susceptible to breakdown by human and other forms of interference.
There are eight members of the Eriochilus family endemic to Australia but the Parson’s Bands is the only one to appear in Victoria. It grows in a variety of habitats and flowers from late summer to early autumn.
For more from the author, click here to visit ‘Gouldiae’s Blog’.
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