Where is the best place to find native orchids? Well, these flowering plants may not be as well known as their non-indigenous counterparts, but our little Aussie treasures continue to grow naturally each year regardless.
There are at least four locations where I am able to find native orchids.
The first is within Belair National Park approximately 10 kilometres south of Adelaide. More than forty different species have been seen around this park. From Gate 17, a short venture along Warri-Parri Track brought me to the parsons band orchids. They have a slender stem with small white flowers resembling a clerical collar. On the other side of the park along Lodge, Moorowie and Carawatha Tracks are the hare orchids and queen spider orchids among others.
Secondly, I found the purple cockatoos in Mount Gawler Native Forest Reserve to be rather impressive. They grow to about 25 centimetres in height and their flowers are usually not larger than 25 millimetres. However, I'm not sure why they're called "cockatoos" as I can't seem to see much resemblance between the plant and the bird.
The third location is another reserve in the same region. Little Mount Crawford Native Forest Reserve features the king spider orchids and donkey orchids along its 1.6-kilometre trail. Believe it or not, both these orchids actually do look like a spider and a donkey (with some imagination, of course). Jenkins Scrub Walking Trail can easily be accessed from Mount Road in Mount Crawford approximately 50 kilometres northeast of Adelaide.
Lastly, there are the onion orchids, leek orchids and sun orchids within the eastern end of Onkaparinga River National Park. The sun orchids only open on hot sunny days. They have distinctive star-shaped flowers with similar sepals and petals. Their colours vary and I've seen them in blue, pink and yellow. On the other hand, the leek orchids produce a spike of very small flowers. And, the onion orchids are just as small but have sharp-pointed flowers arranged in a spiral.