Local orchid hunt (1 of 2)
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  #1  
Old 04-25-2019, 11:05 PM
ArronOB ArronOB is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Central Coast, NSW
Posts: 145
Local orchid hunt (1 of 2) Male
Default Local orchid hunt (1 of 2)

A friend and I decided to go spend the day hunting for epiphitic orchids.

There are apparently about 250 epiphytic and lithophytic orchids in Australia, but most of them must be clustered in North Queensland because thereís very few to be found near where I live. We decided to go about 20 km inland and look in the Watagan Mountains.

The Watagans are a small range of mountains with a road following the very narrow ridgeline along the top. We followed this. Mountains is a relative term, in this case are only about 400 metres high.

The first place we stopped at looked promising. There was a creek in a small ravine which was quite humid and shaded and had good airflow. It looked perfect for orchids but there were none, aside from a few Cymbidium suave.

The next stop was randomly chosen along the narrow ridgeline. We look really hard on the eastern side and found no orchids at all. Then we looked at the Western side and found one small Tangle Orchid (Plectorrhiza) and one tiny Dendrobium (Thelychiton) speciosum growing on the mossy sandstone outcrops.
Then we found this.

Iíve never seen anything like this before. Usually, when you see these in the wild a big one is maybe 2 foot square and usually they are pretty worn looking with a lot of damage from pests and the weather. This one is about 7foot x5foot and as you can see itís very healthy with lots of new undamaged green growth. I think itís all the one individual too.

I always think that there is no better way to learn how to grow epiphytic orchids then to see them growing in the wild. When I come across one, I usually stop for a while and try to work out what the conditions are that is allowing it to prosper. The question I always come back to is why do we so often see a cluster of orchids growing well in one spot when 100 m away in what appears to be an identical set of conditions there are none. In this case it remains a mystery because we could not find any other speciosums along the ridgeline, or any other orchids in fact. To the human eye all the habitat looked the same.

I can only think that to get a foothold and to grow well a wild orchid requires a remarkably narrow band of factors such as temperature, light, air movement, humidity, microzyrrhial fungus etc. Varying any one of these will not necessarily stop the orchid growing but the others must be varied in sync, to come up to a whole that is again suitable for the orchid to prosper.

Iíll do the next stop as another post.
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