This is Oberonia titania.  Oberonia orchids are fairy orchids, small and petite.  Species titania is the King of the fairy orchids.  Thought extinct in about 1960, we are pleased to confirm that it is alive and continuing to exhibit its delicate beauty in the Daintree Rainforest.  We first discovered this minute fairy orchid about a year after Cyclone Rona, February 1999.  Since then, new sightings have popped up, usually on rambutan trees in our orchard.

It takes a cyclone to blow these small seeds about,  spreading them around  our rare exotic tropical fruit orchard where its neglected, unpruned trees have been recipients of the extending rainforest.  The value of the orchard has increased as we discover more and more plants that would normally be hidden high in the rainforest canopy.

O.titania is also called the Soldier’s Crest Orchid, Norfolk Island Oberonia, or Pink Fan Orchid  and is found in Java, North Queensland, New South Wales, New Caledonia and Norfolk Island.  In New South Wales it is listed as a threatened species, vulnerable status.  We have been showing these tiny plants to orchid enthusiasts for many years, but this year there has been a noticeable decline in the number.  Perhaps they have a life span and of course, the seeds have to be present on the plants at the right time, during a cyclone, to be spread around.

A close relative, Oberonia muelleriana is also found in our orchard, no doubt blown out of the heights of our rainforest canopy.

This image shows the seeds.  Its flowers are yellow, so it is not as showy as titania, but there is even less written about O. mulleriana aka O. placatum, on the web.  However, a great deal has been written about Baron Von Mueller.

Baron Sir Ferdinand Jacob Heinrich von Mueller was a famous Botanist, explorer and author who contributed a great deal to Australia’s botanical knowledge.  Born in Germany in 1825, he gained a Pharmacy degree and a Ph.D. in Botany at Kiel University during 1845 to 1847 before migrating to Adelaide with his two sisters at the end of 1847 to become a naturalised Australian.

He was appointed Government Botanist of Victoria and established the National Herbarium of Victoria in 1953, and also explored country Victoria, collecting and cataloguing plant specimens from a wide range of terrains.  He was appointed director of Melbourne Botanic Gardens in 1857 and continued to explore, catalogue and contribute to a record of Australian Flora that is unsurpassed.   Made Baron by the King of Wurtemberg in 1871, and knighted by Queen Victoria in 1879, he is arguably Australia’s most prestigious Botanist, having discovered and named thousands of plants.

These special discoveries are shared family activities with the rainforest rascals being outstanding at discerning unique features and recalling where they can be found.

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