Pterostylis – The Greenhood Orchids
With some species native to Australia, Pterostylis Orchids are also found in New Zealand and New Guinea, and are a terrestrial orchid that is of a deciduous nature. Often referred to as ‘Greenhoods’ they are a fascinating group of plants that can be grown in the garden where they will naturalize in time.
With over 200 species, not all from Australia the genus has a lit of similarities from species to species, however subtle differences in colour and flower size are distinguishing features. Most are given common names that refer to the form of the plant and flower, so P.curta is known as the Blunt Greenhood, while P. nutans is the Nodding Geeenhood.
Active growth begins in late summer, usually brought on by rains, foliage grows over autumn and winter and flowering is in spring. By early summer they are dormant again.
Often grown in containers they do make a wonderful display with the fascinating nodding heads that appear from Winter to Spring.
Pterostylis baptistii is from areas around Brisbane and is typical of the greenhoods in flower form.
- P. alpina is commonly called the Mountain Greenhood, it usually grows in smallish clumps. White flowers with green stripes, reaching around 30 cm. Flowering in early to mid spring.
- P.pedunculata is known as the Maroon Greenhood, Green and white flower with a maroon colouring on the top.
- P. melagramma is known as the Tall Greenhood, its natural habitat is close to the trunks of Eucalypts. A taller flower spike than most, a number of green and white flowers on each flower spike appear very early in spring.
Other Australian species the following are of interest:
- P. acuminata found in moist area and coastal areas.
- P. gibbosa is a very rare species found near Wollongong in NSW,
- P. despectans is also very rare.
- P.nutens are refered to as the ‘Nodding Greenhood’
- P. monticola is the ‘Large Mountain Greenhood’
- P. grandiflora is the ‘ Superb Greenhood’.
Other Australian terrestrial orchids include Spiranthes and Thelymitra.
Terrestial refers to ‘growing in the ground’ . Epiphyte refers to ‘growing in trees’