Dendrobium kingianum (Pink Rock Orchid)


The lithophytic pink rock orchid grows along the range, with some huge colonies (metres across) occuring on the rocky granite outcrops which appear on the ridge-tops in places. These outcrops are small areas of granite, with dry sclerophyll species growing (e.g. grass trees), the orchids lodged in cracks and crevices between and on the rocky ground. They're quite unusual places on the range, which at this altitude is covered almost exclusively by rainforest and wet sclerophyll - these islands of dry heath-like ecology are a marked contrast. The new growth consists of short canes up to about 20cm long, purplish in colour, often growing over and out of the older canes. New canes sometimes grow from the apex of other canes, shooting a new set of roots. This can fall off the parent and form a new plant. (I was once told that these offshoots - called "keikis" - fall off the parent during fire, contributing to the colony's surival; if a flame is held near the keiki then it will break away from the parent. I have tried putting a flame near them and nothing happened!)

                

The flowers in some areas of the Range are a pretty pink and during flowering the colony is quite a sight, with hundreds of flowers all poking up above the congested clumps of canes and leaves. The flowers are about 20mm across. There are many varieties of this species however (different flower colours, growth habits) and a white-flowering form also occurs in some parts of the Range.

                                  

Small native bees can sometimes be found with a pollen sack stuck to their backs after visiting a flower. (Whether they act as pollinators or whether it is merely accidental, I don't know.)



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September 2000