Herbs & Plants

Microtis unifolia

Botanical Name : Microtis unifolia
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Orchidoideae
Genus: Microtis
Species: M. unifolia
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asparagales

Synonyms : M. porrifolia. R.Br.

Common Name : Onion-Leaf Orchis

Habitat: Microtis unifolia is native to E.Asia to Australasia from China, Indonesia and the Phillipines to Australia and New Zealand. It grows in open places such as on banks and in poor pastures in North, South, Stewart and Chatham Islands.

Microtis unifolia is a perennial terrestrial tuberous orchid plant, growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in). The plant is often robust, the stem up to 10mm thick at the base. Flower stem 10 to 40cm (sometimes to a metre) high when in flower. It has single tubular leaf. The flower stem emerging from within the leaf about one third to half way up the leaf. there are 5 – 40 flowers per raceme. Numerous and closely spaced. Each 3-5mm in length. Green to yellow-green in colour. Dorsal sepal hooded with a pointed tip. Lateral sepals curled backwards. Labellum irregular oblong with a very coarse edge, narrowest at its mid-length. Stigma not wider than the column....CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES
It is in flower from Oct to January. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.
We have very little information on this species. It is a terrestrial orchid that can tolerate light frosts and so could possibly be grown outdoors in the mildest parts of Britain, but its late autumn flowering habit might make it more suited to the greenhouse. The flowers have a powerful if sickly scent. Orchids are, in general, shallow-rooting plants of well-drained low-fertility soils. Their symbiotic relationship with a fungus in the soil allows them to obtain sufficient nutrients and be able to compete successfully with other plants. They are very sensitive to the addition of fertilizers or fungicides since these can harm the symbiotic fungus and thus kill the orchid.
Propagation :
Seed – surface sow, preferably as soon as it is ripe, in the greenhouse and do not allow the compost to dry out. The seed of this species is extremely simple, it has a minute embryo surrounded by a single layer of protective cells. It contains very little food reserves and depends upon a symbiotic relationship with a species of soil-dwelling fungus. The fungal hyphae invade the seed and enter the cells of the embryo. The orchid soon begins to digest the fungal tissue and this acts as a food supply for the plant until it is able to obtain nutrients from decaying material in the soil. It is best to use some of the soil that is growing around established plants in order to introduce the fungus, or to sow the seed around a plant of the same species and allow the seedlings to grow on until they are large enough to move.

Edible Uses: The root

Medicinal Uses:  Not  known


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