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Unique autumn orchids bloom in Hale Conservation Park

A unique autumn-flowering orchid is currently in full bloom at Hale Conservation Park, near Williamstown in the Adelaide Hills.

Unique autumn orchids bloom in Hale Conservation Park
The parson’s bands orchid. Photo credit: Aislinn McAleer, National Parks and Wildlife Service.

The parson’s bands orchid, also known as Eriochilus cucullatus, is currently flowering on-park with bush walkers reporting recent sightings of the flower.

National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Ranger Aislinn McAleer says the detail and colour on the flower is incredible.

“The name “parson’s bands” refers to the white lateral sepals resembling a clerical collar,” she said.

“Close up it looks very animated, like an angry little warrior trying to scare someone.

“With most orchids flowering in spring it is exciting to have this orchid present at Hale Conservation Park each autumn.”

Parson’s bands orchids emerge after the first autumn rains, sending their flower up first, with the tiny ground hugging, heart shaped leaf after.

Although common throughout the Adelaide Hills, it is the only orchid of the genus found in the area.

Other autumn flowering orchids in the area include mosquito orchids (Acianthus pusillus), fringed hare orchids (Leporella fimbriata) and common midge orchids (Corunastylis sp).

Fellow NPWS Ranger Kevin Lintern encouraged visitors to the park to stick to walking trails while also keeping an eye out for the tiny orchid.

“We’d love to hear of more locations of where the orchid is located within the park,” he said.

“However, it is a very delicate and fragile plant, so we really encourage you to make sure you keep to the paths and please make sure to let us know if you spot this unique little plant.”

To find out more visit www.parks.sa.gov.au