Dendrobium aemulum (Brush Box Orchid)

The brush box orchid is one of the most common orchids in the locality. In early spring it puts on a delicate spray of white flowers (each about 25mm across) which are short lasting, fading to pink as they age and die.

At the altitude of Mt Glorious (600m) they tend to be found on Brush Box trees, burying their roots into its spongy, moisture-retaining bark. They can form congested colonies, with scores of plants crowding the trunk of their host tree. The brush box tree itsef is a relative of the eucalypt and is perhaps the most popular host to epiphytes in the area. At lower altitudes the orchid is commonly found on Ironbark trees (and their growth habit is slightly different). This is, to my knowledge, the only example of eucalypts hosting epiphytic orchids - the tannin in their bark usually prohibits the growth of epiphytes.

This one shown above is growing on a brush box tree and exhibits the orchid's typical form on brushbox trees - with canes radiating out like spokes of a wheel.

Though common and easily taken for granted, the delicate flowers of this orchid are a delight to behold. To look up the trunk of a tree hosting a colony of these orchids when they are in flower it is as if the trunk is clothed in white feathers.

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September 2000