Dipodium punctatum, the Hyacinth Orchid, is an interesting plant, which occurs naturally at Yallaroo. It is a leafless terrestrial orchid and appears in large numbers in summer. One or two spikes carry up to 50 flowers in crowded heads. The flowers are deep purplish red and are certainly hyacinth-like in appearance. The Hyacinth Orchid is saprophytic. In other words the plants derives its nourishment from dead organic material. This means that the orchid is virtually impossible to bring into cultivation. Perhaps we should ensure the survival of this species by protecting the native grasslands where this unique plant occurs.
A saprotroph (or saprobe) is an organism that obtains its nutrients from non-living organic matter, usually dead and decaying plant or animal matter, by absorbing soluble organic compounds. Since saprotrophs consume external food sources rather than make their own food, they are considered a type of heterotroph.
Many species of fungi, bacteria, and protista are saprotrophs. Animal scavengers, such as dung beetles and vultures, are also sometimes referred to as saprotrophs, but are more commonly called saprophages. In food webs, saprotrophs generally play the role of decomposers. Saprotrophs are often eaten by consumers and therefore commonly play important roles as recyclers in ecosystem energy flow and biogeochemical cycles.
Saprophyte is an older term that is now considered obsolete. The suffix -phyte means "plant". However, there are no truly saprotrophic organisms that are embryophytes, and fungi and bacteria are no longer placed in the Plant Kingdom. Plants that were once considered saprophytes, such as non-photosynthetic orchids and monotropes, are now known to be parasites on fungi. These species are termed myco-heterotrophs.
Those orchids occupying the highest canopies of the emergent trees are xerophytic and tolerate long periods of high intensity of light that provides steady state for their growth. However between crown canopy and crown base in the understorey where rapid fluctuation of sun and shade often predominate, maximum numbers of orchids are found growing (Sciophytes).
The third category of orchids is truly shade tolerant and occupies the tree trunk or stump portions of the understorey mesophytes. The terrestrial orchids forming the fourth ecological group are differentiated in their growth on soil either as an autophyte or saphrophyte
The fungal flora of Australia is not well characterised; Australia is estimated to have about 250,000 fungal species of which roughly 5% have been described. Knowledge of distribution, substrates and habitats is poor for most species, with the exception of common plant pathogens.
dippi wrote:I was fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to salvage some native potato while monitoring some remnant vege being destroyed for housing sub-division in mooruduc, Vic, and was told I would never grow them with out fungus. Since they were going to be dead without my intervention, I took them back to my place in werribee and planted them amongst my lilies and myrnong. I was pleasantly surprised to find them growing and then flowering about a year later. Insects gave them a hammering though. I find that sometimes you just got to give things a go. By the way there are a lot bigger indig yams around than the ones mentioned. Sorry for late response, just found this forum.
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