The Species Orchid Society of Western Australia (Inc)

Thelmitra (Sun Orchids)
Photographs by Ron Heberle

(except p.7 & p.188 by Viv Holly)


Thelymitra's are a terrestrial orchid genus found in Australia, (50 odd species) New Zealand, (about a dozen species) New Caledonia, (2) and the odd one in Timor, Java, and The Philippines.
The Thelymitra's on the following pages, all come from the south west of Western Australia, specifically, the area around Albany, which is known for it's unusual flora. Thelymitra's are known as 'Sun Orchids' because of their tendency to only open on sunny days, closing at night and during cold and cloudy weather.
Unlike most orchids, the lip, or what passes for a lip, is usually the same shape as the petals. There are, however, a few species in which the lip tends to be modified slightly, and appears to be shaped like a 'normal' orchid lip.
One of the most outstanding features of Thelymitra's, is the huge colour range, which can include white, yellow, pink, red, orange, blue, purple and all sorts of combinations of the above, which can produce orchids that are quite stunning, as Ron Heberle's photographs will show. The blue Thelymitra's can be quite unbelievable when one comes across them in the bush, as true blue orchids are so rare in nature. The number of flowers carried on Thelymitra's, varies between one and 20 to 25, sometimes more.

Flower size is between 1 - 6cm.

Tony Watkinson

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