In dividing the flora of the Blue Mountains into groups to facilitate identification and simplify presentation, it was natural to chose botanic families of orchids, irises and lilies that primarily belong to the Asparagales order.
It should be noted that the genus, family and order a plant belongs to is not static. As recently as 40 years ago the lily family (Liliaceae) had 300 genera and 4,500 species worldwide. It now has 15 genera and 700 species with no species indigenous to Australia.
The new families that were once in the Liliaceae family are presented below.
Including all species from the Asparagales order also introduces some strange bedfellows - like the Lomandra (mat-rushes) and Xanthorrhoea (grass trees) genera. But by and large this grouping works.
There's over 200 species of the Asparagales order in the Blue Mountains.
Orchids (Orchidaceae family)
Spotted Sun Orchid (Thelymitra ixioides)
There are about 1,000 species of Orchids (Orchidaceae family) in Australia and as many as 35,000 species worldwide - making it the world's largest flower family.
Although Orchids vary greatly in form, colour and size, their flowers are composed of 6 segments.
The outer 3 segments are the sepals; and inner three segments are the petals.
The third petal becoming a lip or labellum.
There are well over 130 species of the Orchidaceae family in the Blue Mountains across 30 genera - but it is volatile as new species and species new to the area are being discovered, and species and genera are being reclassified. Hybrids also abound.
Swamp Iris (Patersonia fragilis)
The Iris family (Iridaceae) is represented throughout the world by freesias, gladiolis and irises. Saffron (Crocus sativus) is also a member of the Iris family.
There's some 20 species in the Blue Mountains, but with the exception of six Patersonia and Libertia species, all are introduced.
Lilies(formerly the Liliaceae family)
Branching Fringe Lily (Thysanotus juncifolius)
Most of the Australian Lily species have been reclassified into a dozen or so other botanical families.
The more common families found in the Blue Mountains, and a "representative", are -
Resembling a duck in flight, with its sepals for wings, its labellum as its head and its column for a body. This small orchid's labellum snaps shut against the column trapping the visiting insect and turning it into a pollinator.
Also known as the Blue Sun Orchid, it has dark blue dots on its upper three segments. The flower is 25mm wide, but needs a sunny day to open.
It is best identified by the finger like papillae as not all Spotted Sun Orchids have spots.
Similar to the Tall Greenhood this Central Tableland's species is distinguished by its milk chocolate coloured labellum.
The Tall Greenhood's labellum is also hairy. There's no rosette.
The Leafy Greenhoods have been placed in a new genera - Bunochilus
This small orchid is barely 20mm wide and was found in the Kedumba Valley. It is also known as the Blue Caladenia as it was until recently in the Caladenia genus.
It is the only Cyanicula species in NSW.
Found in wet sheltered areas.
Distinguished from the Branching Grass-flag (L. paniculata) as that plant's leaves are longer than its scape* and its pedicels (stalks) are only 1cm long.
This is shown in the full image of the Pretty Grass-flag, and this image showing its 3cm long pedicels.
[* scape - the stem-like flowering stalk.]
This spring and summer flowering lily has a downward facing light blue flower that is 8mm wide.
It is identified by its bent filaments and double appendage at the end of its anther.
Apparently it has a chocolate scent.
Here's another image.
[The stamen consists of an anther and a filament.]
Flowering in spring and liking damp heath, it is also known as the Vanilla Lily due to its scent.
It is the only species of this genus in NSW.
Here's two more images - one showing the flower open; the other showing the many flowers in a cluster.
Spectacular large flowers in summer, it is an indestructible weed that is marching from the villages into the national park.
Its tuberous rootstock is hard to completely remove. Here's an image of its leaves.