An Australian native ground orchid

Brigitte, who lives about 20 minutes’ drive from me at Barker’s Vale,, was kind enough to let me have these photos she took of Epipogium roseum, a native Australian ground orchid, on her property.

Brigitte says there are only three species of Epipogium in the world; Australia has one native one and this is it. Eight came out in the leaf litter at her place. The flowers stayed about one week. They have a short flowering period of about a week and they look a little like fungus from a distance. The measurement guide is 10 cm from start of plant, so gives you an idea of size.

Epipogium roseum 1 Lilifield

Epipogium roseum in leaf litter; photo by Brigitte Stievermann

The next photo shows how the individual flowers are bunched up and uncurl as the orchid grows. It was just one big bunch.

Epipogium roseum 2 Lilifield

The uncurling flowers; photo by Brigitte Stievermann

Epipogium roseum 3 Lilifield

Epipogium roseum, ground orchid, Barker's Vale; photo by Brigitte Stievermann

It has no roots, is sympodial and just comes up from a horizontal fleshy tuber …

Epipogium roseum 4 Lilifield

Photo by Brigitte Stievermann

Many thanks to Brigitte for these photos and for the information.

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8 Responses to An Australian native ground orchid

  1. Heather says:

    These are amazing photos and orchids. I think we have one here too occasionally, but my rather poor memory thought they were pink, so obviously not the same at all, I also thought they lasted less time again. My wandering and taking note of orchids needs brushing up on.

    • Brigitte says:

      Lachlan, who did his PhD on Orchidaceae family, also was surprised that they were still flowering a week after I had alerted him to the fact they were “doing it”. He also had been led to believe that “here one day, gone the next” was the norm. and yes Heather, they can be pinkish, whitish or even dull yellow, according to Harden. As we only have one Epipogium species they would be the same species, as we only have one in Oz. Nan and Hugh found an outbreak out near New Italy about a few days after Lachlan came here, but his soul was satisfied, having taken about 100 hundred pictures which he had been waiting for over a decade to get! In THAT case, what was 5 hours drive?!
      Keep looking, you never know what is underfoot, heather! Love to Alyssia and Glen!

  2. Joy Window says:

    Never go anywhere without your camera, Heather! Especially if you can give the resulting photos to me 🙂 Brigitte says a bloke from the Botany Department of the University of New England at Armidale drove 5 hours to get photos of this one.

  3. Denis Wilson says:

    That’s a new one on me.
    Similar lifestyle to the Gastrodia (Potato Orchids).
    PlantNET says: “The flowering cycle is very short with seed dispersal completed only a few days.after the inflorescence has emerged from the ground.”
    That’s unusual.
    Dipodiums (your Hyacinth Orchid from a few days ago) and Gastrodia (both also leafless saprophytes) are not that fast in seed dispersal.

  4. Cath Clark says:

    In the temperate forests of western Oregon/Northern CA/Washington State there is a similar plant, called “Indian Pipe.”

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