If you ask someone to imagine an orchid, chances are pots of moth orchids lined up for sale in a hardware store will spring to mind, with their thick shiny leaves and vibrant petals.
But Australia’s orchids are greater in number and stranger in form than many people realise. Rock orchids, fairy orchids, butterfly orchids, leek orchids and even onion orchids all look more or less the same. But would you recognise a clump of grass-like roots clinging to a tree trunk as an orchid?
What about a small, pale tuber that spends its whole life underground, blooms underground and smells like vanilla? This is the underground orchid, Rhizanthella, and it’s perhaps the strangest Australian orchid of them all. MORE
Header image: The newly discovered species, Rhizanthella speciosa, found in Barrington Tops. Credit: Mark Clements, Author provided.