There are more than 350 native Orchid species in South Australia. While some have distinct characteristics that make identifying them relatively easy (when flowering), others can be a lot more difficult. Below I’ve compiled some resources that should help to aid both the beginner and experienced enthusiast in identifing local Orchids.
For the beginner “The Common Native Orchids of the Adelaide Hills” is a two-page poster detailing 30 species of native Orchid commonly found in the Adelaide Hills.
If you are after a bit more detail, the 2011 Heritage Bushcare publication “Start with the Leaves: A simple guide to common orchids and lilies of the Adelaide Hills” by Robert Lawrence, provides info on 50 common native Orchids (and others that may be mistaken for Orchids). This book is also applicable to Kangaroo Island, Northern Lofty and South-East SA.
Other books that may be of use, but aren’t specific to Orchids, are “It’s Blue With 5 Petals: Wildflowers of the Adelaide Region” and “Focus on Flora: Native Plants of the Adelaide Hills and Barossa”
For the enthusiast looking to dig deeper, “Orchids of South Australia (R.J. Bates & J.Z Weber, 1990)” is a comprehensive publication covering all Orchids in SA as of 1990. However this list in now quite outdated, describing only around 140 species from the 350 or so now known. It is freely available through the Department for Environment and Water website (click the link above to download the PDF). It includes keys, species descriptions, distributions, flowering times, etc. It also includes a colour plate of each species.
More recently the Native Orchid Society of South Australia published a DVD of South Australia’s Native Orchids (R.J. Bates, 2011). The included PDF builds upon the previous version of “Orchids of South Australia”. The text doesn’t follow the format of a traditional “Flora” and is quite easy to read. It is available for purchase through “NOSSA” and can be borrowed from a public library.
For a wider perspective try A Complete Guide to Native Orchids of Australia (3rd Edition, 2020) by David L. Jones. It doesn’t get more comprehensive than this.
The primary online resource is the “Native Orchid Society of South Australia” website. The site has a blog and numerous articles on all aspects of local Orchids.
In 2017 the University of Adelaide received a sizable citizen science grant to develop the “Wild Orchid Watch” project to collect, record and share scientific information about native Orchids. A short introductory video was recently released summarising the project. The project includes the development of an app allowing citizen scientists to record and upload native Orchid sightings, planned for release in 2020. (The app will have some iNaturalist integration, but as yet I am unsure what form this will take)
Pterostylis or Linguella? Caladenia or Arachnorchis? Corybas or Corysanthes?
Attempts have been made in the past to split up some of the larger Orchid genera (i.e. Pterostylis, Caladenia and Corybas) resulting in inconsistent naming conventions. The NOSSA article “A Beginner’s Guide to South Australian Orchid Name Usage” provides some background and a list of the common synonyms. A full list of synonyms published in South Australia’s Native Orchids (R.J. Bates, 2011), can be found “HERE”. iNaturalist handles synonyms reasonably well, i.e. if you begin to ID an observation as Linguella it will adjust it to Pterostylis to match the taxon scheme in use by iNaturalist.
What Orchids can I expect to find?
Again, the NOSSA website has some valuable info. The article “When Do Orchids Flower?” shows the number of species that can be found in flower in any given month or region across SA. The associated article “Month by Month Flowering Times” provides a full list of Orchids that may be flowering in each month.
SA Orchid observations
There have been a total of 1,374 observations of Orchids uploaded in SA from 88 species. This month there has been 290 observations from 37 species. That leaves around 260 species of native Orchid that have no iNaturalist observations recorded in SA, with upwards of 235 of them flowering during October.
Just one more reason to head out and see what you can find this Spring.