Nature Profiles

Flora of the Adelaide Hills & Mount Lofty Ranges - smaller plants

 

Xanthorrhoea quadrangulata (Mount Lofty Grass-tree)

As its common name suggests, this species is endemic to South Australia, occuring in a roughly north-south line from the northern Flinders Ranges to the Gulf St.Vincent coast on the Fleurieu Peninsula.  The Latin name refers to the four-sided leaves, which distinguish this species from X.semiplana, which has leaves that are semicircular in cross-section.

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Black Hill CP, Adelaide Hills

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Flower spike, Scott Creek CP, Adelaide Hills

Orchids

Arachnorchis tentaculata (Eastern Mantis Orchid)

A walk in spring through native eucalypt woodland in the Adelaide Hills will often allow you to see this common but beautiful orchid.  The flowers can be up to 10cm across and held aloft on 50cm stems, making it a truly spectacular wildflower.  Like the other Spider Orchids in Australia, this species was recently transferred from the large genus Caladenia.

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Wasp pollinator visiting flower, Sandy Creek CP, Adelaide Hills

Arachnorchis leptochila ssp.leptochila (Narrow-lipped Spider Orchid)

Less showy than A.tentaculata, this species is also less common, and is endemic to the Mount Lofty Ranges (a separate subspecies is endemic to the Flinders Ranges).   The narrow lip is also smooth-margined, unlike the 'toothed' lip of the above species.

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Black Hill CP, Adelaide Hills

{Pterostylis nana (Dwarf Greenhood)}

The genus Pterostylis was recently split into several smaller genera.  This species is very common, and is a welcome sight in late winter when few other plants (apart from the Acacias) have begun flowering.

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Morialta CP, Adelaide Hills

Pterostylis pedunculata (Maroonhood)

Seemingly less common in the Adelaide Hills than {P.nana}, this distinctive orchid can easily be overlooked amongst the shade and leaf litter of a eucalypt woodland.  I found these in Montacute CP.

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Urochilus sanguineus (Red-banded Greenhood)

Formerly known as Pterostylis sanguinea, this orchid is endemic to south-eastern Australia, and relatively common and widespread within its range.  The rusty-coloured drooping flowerheads and reddish-brown labellum are sufficient to distinguish this species in the Adelaide Hills.

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Black Hill CP, Adelaide Hills

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Anstey Hill

Plumatichilos plumosum (Bearded Greenhood)

The unusual bearded lip makes this little orchid unmistakeable, although, like other greenhoods, it can be hard to spot.  This species is found in all south-eastern states of Australia, including Tasmania, and is also present in New Zealand.


Sandy Creek CP, Adelaide Hills

Pheladenia deformis (Blue Fairies)

Formerly included in Caladenia,  this attractive little orchid is commonly seen adorning open woodland in early spring, flowering before most other species.  It occurs across all of southern Australia, and in the Adelaide Hills, cannot be confused with any other species.

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Anstey Hill CP, Adelaide Hills

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Black Hill CP, Adelaide Hills

Petalochilus prolatus (Long-leaf Fingers)

I came across this little orchid on one of my favourite routes around Black Hill CP.  It's not mentioned on the Park's flora list, but it's certainly a correct ID, so maybe I made a new discovery!

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Black Hill CP, Adelaide Hills

Acianthus pusillus (Small Mosquito Orchid)

Acianthus is a small genus (less than 10 species) of autumn-flowering orchids (hence these plants were only showing seed pods in spring), and are easily recognised by their single heart-shaped leaves, from which the flower spike arises.  A.pusillus is a widespread species of south-eastern Australia, and is the only member of the genus found in South Australia.

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Black Hill CP, Adelaide Hills

Diuris pardina (Leopard Orchid)

This attractive plant is the commonest of the Donkey-orchids in the Adelaide Hills.  Despite its striking appearance, it can be difficult to spot amongst the woodland vegetation.

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Angove CP, Adelaide Hills

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Anstey Hill CP, Adelaide Hils

Diuris behrii (Golden Cowslips / Orange Moths)

To find these orchids I went to Charleston Conservation Park.  They were fairly abundant, along with some other Diuris species.  D.behrii has pure yellow flowers with dark internal streaks, unlike many other Diuris flowers which have spotted or blotched petals.  It is the only Adelaide Hills species which belongs to a group of Diuris which have wide, drooping flowers and lack the 'donkey ears' of species like D.pardina.  This species is uncommon in South Australia, and more abundant in the south-eastern mainland states.

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Diuris x palachila (Broad-lip Doubletail)

This plant is a natural hybrid between D.behrii and D.pardinaDiuris orchids often hybridise, and this particular one is known from SA and Victoria.  It retains the flower-form of D.behrii, but has blotched marking similar to D.pardina.

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Charleston CP, Adelaide Hills

Diuris orientis (Wallflower Orchid)

The washed-out purplish colours on this orchid give it a unique appearance among South Australian orchids, and make it easy to identify.  It is a south-eastern Australian species, which reaches its north-western limit in the Mount Lofty Ranges, like many other members of the South Australian flora.  In common with other Diuris species, flowering is stimulated by bush fires.


Mt Billy CP, Fleurieu Peninsula - CHECK!

Corysanthes dilatata (Veined Helmet Orchid)

Corysanthes (formerly known as Corybas) orchids are tiny plants, and easily overlooked.  The flowers stand only 1 or 2 cm tall, and the best way to spot them in their shady habitat is to look for the distinctive single round leaves lying flat on the ground.  Most Corysanthes species are found in the eastern states where rainfall is higher.

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Warren CP, Adelaide Hills

Glossodia major (Waxlip Orchid)

There are only two Glossodia species, major and minor, and this is the only one to occur in SA.  It can be very common in open eucalypt woodland in spring, and as the photos below show, exists in blue and white-flowering forms.

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Sandy Creek CP, Adelaide Hills

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White-flowered form, Scott CP, Fleurieu Peninsula

Thelymitra antennifera (Rabbit Ears Orchid)

This is probably my favourite South Australian orchid (so far!).  Despite their diminutive stature compared to some other Thelymitra species, these beautiful yellow orchids are always a happy find in spring.   Like other Thelymitra orchids, the flowers only open in sunny weather.  These plants were all photographed at Sandy Creek CP in the Adelaide Hills.

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Thelymitra sp

Both T.pauciflora and T.nuda exist in occasional white-flowered forms, and both species are superficially very similar, although the flowers of T.pauciflora are smaller, with structural differences in the centre of the flower (difficult to see in this photo).  If anyone can decide either way on this plant's identity I'd be very grateful in hearing from you!

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Black Hill CP, Adelaide Hills

Thelymitra nuda (Scented Sun-orchid) (or canaliculata?)

A common but beautiful late spring-flowering orchid, this species can be found across south-eastern Australia.  These plants at Cox Scrub were very robust, and made a spectacular sight as they towered above the low heathy vegetation.

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Cox Scrub CP, Adelaide Hills

Thelymitra luteocilium (Fringed Sun-orchid)

This common species is very similar to T.rubra, but can be recognised by the yellow hair-tufts in the centre of the flower.  Nationally it is found in SA and Victoria.

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Sandy Creek CP, Adelaide Hills

Thelymitra rubra (Salmon Sun Orchid)

A common and attractive sun orchid, this species can be found in eucalypt woodland throughout south-eastern Australia, and is one of the more widespread Thelymitra species.  It is very similar to T.luteocilium but lacks the conspicuous tuft of yellow hairs on the column apex.

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Black Hill CP, Adelaide Hills

Pyrorchis nigricans (Red Fire Orchid)

There are only two Pyrorchis species, both endemic to Australia.  P.forrestii is found in WA, and P.nigricans is found across southern Australia.  Both species flower poorly unless prompted by summer bushfires.

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Mt Billy CP, Fleurieu Peninsula

 

Other little plants!

Sundews

Half a dozen or so different sundews occur in the Adelaide Hills, and are among the first flowers to bloom each spring.

Drosera auriculata (Tall Sundew)

Growing up to 70cm tall, this plant looks odd to a native of Europe, where sundews are mat forming, diminutive plants!  It is a very common species of south-eastern Australia, and is also found in New Zealand.  D.auriculata is very similar to D.peltata (see below), but lacks a hairy calyx.  During my time in Adelaide, I found D.peltata to be the more common species in the Hills, but I must admit I didn't make a systematic search for either plant!

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Angove CP, Adelaide Hills

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Drosera peltata (Pale Sundew)

In early spring the white flowers of this beautiful plant adorn the understory of eucalypt woodland in the Adelaide Hills.  The hairy calyx, which distinguishes this plant from D.auriculata, can be seen in several parts of this photo.

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Mylor CP, Adelaide Hills

Drosera whittakeri ssp.whittakeri (Scented Sundew)

Unlike the two previous species, Scented Sundew is a prostrate, rosette-forming plant.  The large flowers almost obscure the sticky leaves in spring, and instantly draw attention to these little plants.  Within Australia, this sundew is restricted to the Mount Lofty Ranges, Kangaroo Island and Victoria.

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Black Hill CP, Adelaide Hills

Drosera glanduligera (Scarlet Sundew)

This tiny annual plant is easily recognised on account of its size, and the orange-red flowers.  The only other South Australian sundew to have similarly coloured flowers is D.macrantha, the Climbing Sundew, but that plant has a completely different growth habit.  Scarlet Sundew is one of Australia's commonest sundews, being found in all states except NT and Qld.

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Morialta CP, Adelaide Hills

Argentipallium obtusifolium (Blunt-leaved Everlasting)

This attractive everlasting is a plant of the southern Mount Lofty Ranges, and is rare in the northern Adelaide Hills.  The broad 'petals' (actually bracts) are not pointed like many other everlastings, and the centre of each 'flower' (actually the tiny flowers making up the composite flowerhead) are pinkish red, rather than yellow or orange.  Nationally this species is found in all south-eastern states, including Tasmania.

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Cox Scrub CP

Goodenia geniculata (Bent Goodenia)

Some Goodenias are little herbs rather than small shrubs.  G.geniculata has typical Goodenia flowers held above a rosette of glossy, dark green spoon-shaped, toothed leaves.  The species can be found from the Eyre Peninsula south-east through Victoria to Tasmania.

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Warren CP, Adelaide Hills

Chamaescilla corymbosa (Blue Squill)

This diminutive species forms little patches amongst the leaf litter in open woodlands in spring.  It can be found in suitable habitat across all of southern Australia, including Tasmania.

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Warren CP, Adelaide Hills

Arthropodium strictum (Chocolate Lily)

The common name for this family of plants derives from the scent of the flowers, although this can be difficult to detect!  A.strictum is a common species, not just in the Mount Lofty Ranges, but in Australia as a whole, and the species is absent only from Western Australia.  Two Arthropodium species are found in the Adelaide Hills, both with similar-looking flowers.  A.strictum has only one flower from each bract, while A.fimbriatum has several flowers from each bract.  Arthropodium is a non-endemic genus in Australia - you can see a New Zealand species, A.candidum here.

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Sandy Creek CP, Adelaide Hills

Chrysocephalum baxteri (Fringed Everlasting)

Many everlastings are annual plants, but Fringed Everlasting is a handsome perennial herb, with yellow-centred white flowers.  It is native to all south-eastern states, including Tasmania.

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Scott Creek CP, Adelaide Hills

Bulbine bulbosa (Native Leek)

Found throughout temperate Australia, this handsome spring-flowering bulb is common in the Adelaide Hills.  Plants can grow up to 50cm tall, with flowers appearing alternately on a tall spike.  Individual flowers last only one day, but each spike bears many buds and lasts much longer.  A similar species, B.semibarbata, also occurs in the Hills, but this annual plant has smaller, less hairy flowers little more than 1cm across.

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Black Hill CP, Adelaide Hills

Calostemma purpureum (Purple Bells)

Unlike many plants in the Mount Lofty Ranges, these bulbs flower in the summer and autumn.  This species is the only native member of the Amaryllidaceae found in the Mount Lofty Ranges.

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Morialta CP, Adelaide Hills

Burchardia umbellata (Milkmaids)

This charming little spring bulb is found across the southern half of Australia.

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Anstey Hill CP, Adelaide Hills

Wurmbea dioica (Early Nancy)

As the Latin name suggests, this species has separate male and female flowers.  Those pictured here are male.

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Morialta CP, Adelaide Hills

Thysanotus patersonii (Twining Fringe-lily)

The common name of Fringe-lilies for this family is very apt, and makes Thysanotus an instantly recognisable genus of plants.  Individual species, however, can be more tricky to distinguish.  Thankfully only three species are found in the Adelaide Hills, T.patersonii, T.baueri and T.juncifolius.  The first two are non-climbing plants, easily distinguished by the presence or lack of leaves at flowering, and T.patersonii is a climbing plant with twining stems (visible to the left of the flower in this photo).  It is a widespread species, absent only from the Northern Territory in Australia.

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Morialta CP, Adelaide Hills

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Sandy Creek CP, Adelaide Hills

Glycine clandestina var. sericea (Twining Glycine)

A widespread twining plant of many temperate areas of Australia, this species can be recognised by its small-flowered vine-like habit.  It could perhaps be confused with Hardenbergia violacea (see above), but that species has large ovate leaves, rather than the lobed leaves of G.clandestina (visible below the flowers in this photo).

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Morialta CP, Adelaide Hills

Kennedia prostrata (Scarlet Postman)

Kennedias are scrambling, twining plants of woodland regions throughout Australia.  Thankfully for Adelaide Hills botanists there are only two species present - K.prostrata and the introduced K.nigricans, which has black rather than red flowers.  Despite there being several other red-flowered legumes in the Hills, this species is simple to recognise with its scrambling habit and large 'mouth-shaped' flowers, which lack the lateral spreading flower-form of families like Dillwynia.  Nationally K.prostrata is a widespread plant, absent only from the Northern Territory.

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Warren CP, Adelaide Hills

Stackhousia monogyna / aspericocca (Creamy Candles)

Stackhousias are elegant bush plants and make an enchanting sight when clumps of them flower in spring.  Although they are easily identified as a genus, separating individual species requires close examination of the flowers.  Two species are found in the Adelaide Hills, the first more abundant: S.aspericocca, which has a conspicuous bract on each side of the flower base, and S.monogyna, which has a swollen bract base.  Nationally S.monogyna is widespread, whereas S.aspericocca is restricted to mild, wetter areas of SA and Victoria.  Both species are variable in colour, from pure white to yellow, although S.aspericocca can be a deeper yellow and grow to a larger size.

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Black Hill CP, Adelaide Hills

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Para Wirra RP, Adelaide Hills

Patersonia fragilis (Swamp Iris)

This attractive spring-flowering species is not very common in the Mount Lofty Ranges, although it is widespread nationally in temperate areas.  It is easily distinguished from the more common P.occidentalis by its grooved cylindrical leaves.

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Mt Billy CP, Fleurieu Peninsula

Dampiera dysantha

The flowers of all Dampieras, like those of their cousins the Goodenias, are a highly distinctive shape, with five long, often crinkled petals.  D.dysantha is is a widespread species of south-eastern Australia and can be recognised by its thin, short leaves which are unlike the two other memebers of the genus in the Adelaide Hills, D.lanceolata and D.rosmarinifolia.

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Scott CP