According to The Orchids of Victoria by Gary Backhouse and Jeffrey Jeanes published MUP 1995, the orchid family [Orchidaceae] is:
… one of the largest and most diverse plant families in the world. It contains somewhere between 20,000 and 35,000 species in over 800 genera which is almost 10 per cent of the world’s flowering plants.
Australia has about 1000 species, of which over 270 are found in Victoria. This is an orchid flora of extraordinary richness, comparable with the best in the world for its range of terrestrial orchids…
We have been reluctant to plant out the many orchids we have in pots because there are so many rabbits in the Park keen to eat them! We acquired most of our orchids from a development site north of Melbourne and have been successfully propagating them in the nursery.
Acianthus pusillus – Small Mosquito Orchid
Acianthus pusillus is one of three Acianthus orchids in Victoria. They generally grow on light sandy soils in a variety of habitats including heathlands but Acianthus pusillus occurs in closed coastal scrublands, open forests, woodlands and some closed forests in a range of soil types. Dormant in summer, they appear following late summer and autumn rains and flower in the cool months of autumn, winter and spring. The flower stem grows to around 20cm. Pollination is by small gnats attracted to the flowers by nectar rewards and floral fragrances.
There are eight named species of Corybas found in Victoria, usually in the southern and eastern near coastal regions. The grow in heathlands and other damp, sheltered areas, often under dense undergrowth. They are all very small, leaf-hugging and dormant in summer with tuberoids beneath the soil. Growth commences after autumn and winter rains, flowering in winter and spring. According to The Orchids of Victoria, pollination is believed to be carried out by small fungus gnats, the flower mimicking the fruiting body of a fungus in colour, form and perhaps odour, to attract the tiny insects.
Corybas fimbiatus – Fringed Helmet Orchid
Corybas aconitiflorus – Spurred Helmet Orchid
Corybas aconitiflorus is an uncommon species but where it does occur it is found in large numbers and in eastern coastal and hinterland areas. It flowers from May to June, sometimes up until August.
The 55 species of Diuris occur only in Timor and Australia and they are widely distributed in Victoria other than the Mallee and higher parts of the Eastern Highlands in widely varied habitats and soils. Dormant in summer, growth resumes after autumn rains from fleshy underground tuberoids.
Diuris corymbosa – Wallflower or Donkey Orchid
Diuris corymbosa grows in dense colonies and is one of the most beautiful orchid species. It is pollinated by small native bees attracted to the colour and scent and flowers from September to November, prolifically after bushfire.
Diuris lanceolata – Golden Moths, Snake Orchid
Diuris lanceolata is widespread and locally common throughout much of Victoria preferring grasslands, woodlands, open forests and alpine meadows on well drained sandy loams to heavy, waterlogged peaty soils. It mainly flowers from September to October.
Microtis parviflora – Slender Onion Orchid
The Microtis genus also grows in a wide range of habitats. The tiny flowers grow spirally along a single terete leaf and flower most prolifically after fire. Microtis parviflora is very hardy, colonising lawns and nature reserves. This orchid is planted out in our heath areas but at first glance is barely recognisable as an orchid.
Pterostylis is a large genus with 60+ species in Victoria alone.
Pterostylis nutans – Nodding Greenhood
Pterostylis nutans grows in a wide range of habitats across most of the State and can be found in a few small reserves and remnant bushland close to Melbourne. The plants die back every year and mostly propagate by seed. It’s nodding flower is a very effective pollination insect trap. The labellum (hairy, red, tongue-shaped part) is triggered when a fly or mosquito lands on the surface and snaps upwards, forcing the insect to struggle out picking up pollinia on the way. Flowers July/August.
Pterostylis concinna – Trim Greenhood
Pterostylis concinna forms huge colonies in open forests in well-drained, moist soil, in full shade to full sun. It is considered vulnerable in Victoria to continued depletion. Flowers May to September.