One of the joys of living surrounded by bushland is the never ending variety of life that passes by, season by season. In spring, the wildflowers and birds provide spectacular flashes of colour. Here at Pilyara the soil lacks some of the richness found elsewhere, and this is the situation favoured by many ground orchids, or rather they have adapted well to such soils. Under the canopy of Messmate, small colonies of orchids can be found. Several species have begun to flower, and more will follow in the weeks to come.
Many Australian orchids depend on mimicry to attract pollinators, using pheromones similar to those given off by female wasps. These orchids generally have unspectacular flowers, although in an attempt to appear wasplike their forms can be remarkable.Those that attempt to attract pollinators using colour and perfume are more spectacular. The most showy varieties at Pilyara are the sun-orchids, so called because their flowers only open on warm sunny days.
The profusion of orchids found at Pilyara is not rare, or even uncommon. I’m still waiting to find something really unusual hiding away. But as more and more bushland disappears, the rare vanishes, the uncommon becomes rare, and the ordinary takes its place as vulnerable. What a responsibility we have as stewards of this earth!
(Photos courtesy of my brother, Rod Scoullar)