Tall spikes of Pink Hyacinth Orchid (Dipodium roseum) are blooming all over Pilyara’s shady messmate gullies at this time of year. It is by far the most spectacular and abundant ground orchid on the property. As a Saprophyte, it has no leaves or green colour at all, hence no way to photosynthesise. Each stout reddish brown stem bears a spike of up to fifty delicate pink flowers, that resemble Hyacinths.
The Hyacinth Orchid relies on mycorrhizal fungi growing in association with eucalyptus tree roots to provide it with all the nutrients it needs. The plant reverts to dormancy as an underground tuber in late summer, when its life-cycle is complete. Seed capsules are sometimes produced and can be seen for several more months.
I am always fascinated by these sorts of symbiotic relationships. They demonstrate the vital, but often invisible interconnectedness of living things in our world. Any foolish person who tried to grow this showy orchid in their home garden would inevitably fail. It can only live in association with its specific fungus, and therefore cannot be cultivated.