Corybas Website

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Corybas dilatatus

Common helmet orchid

Corybas is a small genus of rather insignificant terrestial orchids, found mainly in southern Australia and New Zealand. The leaf is typically circular, ~ 25 mm in diameter, and flat to the ground. The flower is a small purplish black helmet, perhaps 10 mm in diameter, and held above the leaf by a very short stalk. Because of the typical shape of the flower they are commonly known as helmet orchids.

Helmet orchids are quite common in Southern Victoria, but as they grew among the litter on the ground, often under bracken, they are often overlooked. However, when I was looking for a name for this website I chose Corybas because of its similarity to Cybec, the name I had chosen for my electronics business many years before.

When I was at primary school at Mount Dandenong in the early 40's I became interested in the native ferns and orchids, and I would have liked to have made my career in botany, but I knew Jim Willis, the Assistant Government Botanist, and knew the conditions under which he worked. So I studied Electrical Engineering instead, but I always retained my interest in the native plants, and this led me to name this website after this insignificant little plant.

Although Jim's title was, I think, 'Assistant Government Botanist' there was no provision made for him to do any fieldwork, and he never drove, so if he wanted to look at plants in the bush he had to do it in his own time, and to persuade a friend to drive him.
After his death his widow, Mavis, told me that she hated hving to ring him at work, as the only phone was in the Directors office upstairs, so a messenger had to be sent downstairs to fetch him up, and he would then have to talk to her in front of the Director. Amateur botanist Winifred Waddell was so disgusted when she heard this that she personally paid to have a second line installed to the Herbarium.
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 © Roger Riordan 2004-2017