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Common Name: Onion-Leaf Orchis
Microtis unifolia is a perennial plant that can grow up to 0.50 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food.
E.Asia - from China, Indonesia and the Phillipines to southern Australia and New Zealand.
Open places such as on banks and in poor pastures in North, South, Stewart and Chatham Islands[
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[
]. No more details are given.
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.