Visit the tropical rainforest of Barron Gorge National Park with Skyrail and you’ll be treated to a beautiful display of various orchids that are currently in flower.
The orchid family (Orchidacea) is considered one of the most diverse of all plant families with approximately 28,000 species. They can be found on every continent except Antarctica.
Orchids will typically grow on other plants (epiphytic) or on rocks (lithophytic), while a few will grow more traditionally in the ground.
All orchid flowers are bilaterally symmetrical and many species have evolved highly complex petal shapes.
An orchid’s leaf structure is dependent on its habitat. Epiphytic and lithophytic orchids will have thick leaves with a waxy feel to them. This is to help them retain water when their host tree branch or rock face eventually dries out.
Skyrail’s Smithfield terminal in Cairns is home to a variety of epiphytic orchids, some great examples of which can be seen in the front garden that borders the entry ramp into our ticketing lobby.
At Red Peak Station, if you look up you may notice the impressive King Orchid (Thelychiton speciosus) located on a branch over the boardwalk – between the large Kauri tree and the lookout. The King Orchid is a large species with a native range from Victoria to Cape York. Although it is still quite common in most areas, certain populations of this species have suffered the effects of illegal poaching.
Orchids have long been used for food and perfumes but one group in particular still finds its way into dishes worldwide – the Vanilla Orchids. First cultivated in Central and Southern America by the Aztecs and other Mesoamerican peoples, the orchid and its flavourful seed pods were first introduced to Europeans back in the 16th century.
Tropical rainforest information and Images supplied by Skyrail Environmental Ranger & Wildlife photographer Tim Hackwood
Categories: Nature Diary