Pterostylis and Greenhoods

The genus Pterostylis are also more commonly known as Green hoods, Rusty Hoods or Maroon Hoods. They are all members of one of the unlikeliest flowers to be called an orchid.  According to Rex Johnson from (Still More Orchids in Victoria, 2004), there are more than 120 species in Australia, with more than 60 of them growing in Victoria and another 37 in Tasmania; although many are common to both states.

A peculiar characteristic of Pterostylis is the fused lateral sepals that rise from the base of the flower before separating to form two tails above a dorsal sepal. Together they form a hood (botanically known as a galea) above the column and lateral sepals.

Depending upon the species, the genus Pterostylis can be found in nature from sea level to alpine areas and in all types of terrain and climates. Most species have only one flower per stem but some multi-flowered species have as many as 24. The colour of the flowers may range from green to brown, whilst some species having either reddish brown or maroon flowers. Green is by far the most common colour, although it may vary from light to dark green, often with white or translucent stripes.

Flower size may vary from quite small (e.g. P. parviflora) to relatively large (e.g. P. baptistii). For more information on Pterostylis by Rex Johnson, refer to his article on the OSCOV site: Cultivating the Genus Pterostylis by Rex JohnsonAbove Image: Pterostylis  Concinna

Pterostylis is a ‘Terrestrial‘ orchid which literally means an orchid that grows in the ground. According to an article by Frankie Fraser, there are approximately 1200 native orchid species in Australia and more than half of these are terrestrials which are mostly unique to Australia. They have tubers, and few roots because they live in association with fungi, (mycorrhizal fungi), which gather nutrients for the orchid. Some of these orchids are easy to grow, while some are difficult and others are impossible because of a special symbiotic relationship that they have with the mycorrhizal fungi. More information on Pterostylis can be found in the article by Frankie Fraser”Native Terrestrial Orchids – Give Them a Go!” (from ‘Even More Orchids in Victoria‘, 2006).

For more information: Visit the Orchid Societies Council of Victoria (OSCOV) Website under the section Articles & Resources.

For photos of Pterostylis see our Pterostylis photo page.

For further information about orchid care at Southern Suburbs Orchid Society (SSOS) or membership enquiries, please do not hesitate to Contact Us.

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