Alpine Garden Society

Ulster Group

Plant of the Month, December 2015
   Chiloglottis valida - Large Bird Orchid  - by Liam McCaughey
As our Northern Hemisphere flowers are resting for the winter, those in the Antipodes come out.  So, for a change ...
We have just returned from Australia, where on a walk through the bush north of Melbourne we came across this tiny terrestrial orchid. This is the Large Bird Orchid, chiloglottis valida, which belies its name by being quite small. It is about 3 cm in height, with leaves 3 cm. Just coming into flower in early spring, in October.
(Not to be confused with another bird orchid which we saw some years ago in Western Australia, and which is a member of the greenhoods)
Chiloglottis valida is pollinated by species of thynnine wasps, and indulges in sexual deception !  It produces a scent which mimics the pheromones released by the females of the pollinating wasp species.