Well I have finally decided to take the leap and record my orchid travels, discoveries and photos in a BLOG
Well I have finally decided to take the leap and record my orchid travels, discoveries and photos in a BLOG so that others may choose to join in my adventures, looking for what I feel are an amazing family of flowering plants that have so many varieties, colours, shapes and sizes that one can not help but be amazed by them. In Western Australia there are two distinct areas that native orchids are found. The South West of Western Australia and in the north starting in the Kimberley. My BLOG will focus on the South West terrestrial orchids due to the massive size of my home state of Western Australia.
Orchidaceae is the family name in scientific speak however I will be using the common name of “Orchid” in my posts. In Western Australia the South West orchid territory ranges from Shark Bay in the Midwest on a diagonal line to Kalgoorlie in the Goldfields and eastwards to Eyre on the Nullarbor plain including the entire South West, Great Southern, South Coastal and Wheatbelt regions.
In this Southern region 28 different genera and over 400 species are found with many yet to be formally named, so as you can imagine tracking down all of these will provide years of adventures for me to fill up my BLOG.
Please note I am a self-taught amateur in Orchid location, Orchid identification and Orchid photography so I would ask for your understanding if I may get it wrong, and would appreciate your feedback, notes and comments to help this little BLOG grow and develop just as my wonderful Orchids do in this great state of Western Australia.
Packed up the camper and headed off up the Coolgardie-Norseman Hwy for a long overdue weekend camping trip. We chose Peak Charles National Park as we had not visited since 2015. This years dry winter allows us to visit, as the roads are usually impassable if wet. Consequently we had never visited this early in the season before, so who knows what orchids may be in flower. Although this dry start will also impact the orchids themselves, so it is a two edged sword. Our first stop on the Hwy is Scaddan, where we find Diuris plants with leaves but no flowers as yet. So off we head further north, with next stop being Salmon Gums.
We checked out our usual spot and was lucky enough to find some Midget greenhoods (Pterostylis mutica) which are found from Wongan Hills to the SA border flowering July to October. Fewer flowers than last years visit (15/07/2017) however still happy to find some. Only other finds were spent Pygmy orchids (Corunastylis tepperi).
This little one was only 40mm tall
Only 80mm tall – Can grow up to 200mm
We pulled into the travel stop in Salmon Gums and had our lunch, before heading off for Peak Charles. On the drive in just before the Lake King – Norseman Road intersection we checked out a granite rock location and found a lone Dark banded greenhood (Pterostylis sanguinea) with an unusual light orangey-brown colouring. Nothing else found.
Upon arrival at the Peak Charles National Park camping ground we were amazed to find it empty, so we enjoyed setting up camp before heading out on a late afternoon check of the surroundings. We went to the place we had found orchids previously and after a lot of searching we finally found some in flower. Hairy-stemmed snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘inland’) is a common inland orchid found from Kalbarri to Balladonia, flowering late June to September. Also know as Pterostylis setulosa and found in SA and NSW. An extremely variable species. We explored onto the granite but due to fading light no more sightings made.
This one was over 100mm tall
This little one was only 30mm high
Back to camp for dinner, which happened to be lamb chops cooked on the little BBQ, which was a Christmas gift from Jace, Amber and Oliver.
Damage from the blaze. Paint burnt
Heat beads still glowing hot
We awoke to a beautiful sunny winters day and enjoyed a bacon and egg breakfast before heading off to explore further. Deb wanted to check out the snail orchids again to get some photos with the Olympus M5, so we headed back to the spot we found them yesterday afternoon.
Crossed lateral sepals
We then ventured onto the granite rocks and climbed up looking for anything else that may be flowering. The old faithful Resurrection plant was flowering and more snail orchids were found, however they were very few and far between with so many rosettes having only very small buds. Late season it seems.
Borya consticta – Pincushion
What?, another Pterostylis but not a snail this time. I found a lone double headed Dark Banded greenhood.
Small insect-like labellum
Only just 50mm high
Looking back towards Peak Charles itself, we decided to venture up a wooded slope which incorporated a run-off creek bed. It started out quite open and there were yellow daisies flowering however once the Sheaok trees started the daisies stopped. Deb then stumbles across a nice, small hood of snails which was exciting as the previous ones found were all very spaced apart.
We then pushed into the creek-bed which is strewn with boulders, logs and other debris and Deb yells in excitement. She has never seen so many Cyrtostylis leaves, however only a few were in bud and not yet fully blooming. Oh well we did say earlier, the season appears late at this location.
None in flower 😦
Colouring indicated Midge orchid
We spent the next 30 mins or so clambering up and over rocks, logs and between trees and bushes on a 30 degree hill slope in the vain hope of finding some in flower. Alas it was not meant to be ..Many Pterostylis rosettes were found as well.
Growing over shed bark
Back to camp for a late lunch and we now had company as 3 sites had been occupied. Later that afternoon the wind picked up so we rested and watched 4WDs, motorbikes, buggies and quads arrive for what may turn into a rowdy night. However they all disappeared to another camping spot as they numbered too many for this location. Thankyou!!!! After some soup for dinner we climbed into the camper and played cards before crashing into bed. It was a wet n windy night so not a great sleep was had.
Woke up to blue skies but the wind was still gusty. Had eggs n bacon again then slowly packed up. The camper roof was damp so used our gas heater to assist in the drying. Finally got a move on just after 11am. We quickly checked some granite outcrops on the drive back to the HWY but nothing found. Pulled into the Salmon Gums Roadhouse and grabbed a coffee and a meat pie, before making a beeline for Eldred Road. Nothing found near the HWY so we moved to the spot East of the largest lake where we found many Dark banded greenhoods, mainly at he base of the larger trees.
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Moving further south we next visit the Red Lake Townsite Nature Reserve where Pterostylis again reign supreme. More Dark banded greenhoods found with the unusual colouring like back at Peak Charles N.P. Also found were some Frog greenhoods (Pterostylis sargentii), which had formed their hood but had yet to open up the lateral sepals. Also found a lone flowering Midget greenhood.
Final stop was at Truslove Townsite Nature Reserve where we looked for something other than a Pterostylis. Thank goodness we found them. Some donkey orchids were found with others yet to flower. I will name these as Green Range donkey orchid (Diuris sp. ‘Green Range’) which flower July to early September in a range from Denmark to Esperance.
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Green Range donkey orchid
We enjoyed our camping weekend exploring North of Esperance. Pterostylis reigned supreme but we did find our first Diuris species for the season. The number of rosettes and Cyrtostylis leaves found blew our minds. We must get back one day to see if they translate into flowers.
First day of July, 2nd month of winter and it will be 21 degrees, so what better way to spend a fine, sunny, winters day than to go exploring for orchids. After a yummy Bacon n Eggs cooked breaky, we pack up some lunch, snacks and drinks together with cameras, mobile phones, Hema map and orchid books and head off on our adventure.
We make a beeline for Boyatup Hill (Mud Map SE 40) with only one stop, a burnt out patch of roadside verge, where we struck out scoreless. Oh well Boyatup will not let us down, fingers crossed. On the track prior to the gravel pit I find the only orchid in flower. Lots of leaves yet to flower or spent bunny orchids were in abundance though. New find for the season a lone Robust snail orchid (Pterostylis dilatata) which flowers May to August from Geraldton to Israelite Bay. A distinctive feature of this orchid is the flowering plants lack a rosette of leaves, which is unusual for Snail orchids.
Flowering plants lack a rosette of leaves
Clubbed lateral sepals
Deb then heads off on foot along the track and finds our first Donkey orchid of the season. Using Esperance Wildflowers as a guide I believe the orchid to be Green Range donkey orchid (Diuris littoralis) which is found Denmark to Esperance flowering from July to early September. Florabase also list Local Government Area (LGA) of Dundas which is both north and east of the Esperance LGA so extends the listed location, seemingly including my location of Boyatup.
Flattened to convex mid lobe to labellum
Broad dorsal sepal
Tri-lobed labellum with broad spreading lateral lobes
A little further along the track Deb also finds some Dark banded greenhoods (Pterostylis sanguinea). We need to lay on our bellies to get the photos as they are growing underneath a bush. Nothing more found so at the gravel pit Deb jumps back in the Triton and we make our way to the turn-around part of the track, where we grab a cuppa before heading further along the track ,both by foot, as it is rather overgrown and would scratch the Triton and be near impossible to find orchids looking out the windows.
Flattened lateral sepals , joined at the base
Numerous stem leaves – up to 12
Fleshy white banded flowers
In the area that we found many Mosquito orchids last year Deb is lucky enough to find a small group of Robust snail orchids. We did find Mosquito orchid leaves with a few mm of stem so a few weeks away yet. Also found leaves of Caladenia, Blue beards and Rattlebeaks, but no further orchids in flower. We make our way to the Triton and head off.
Grouping of 5 or 6 flowers
Using Google maps I had worked out a route to Mount Ney our next planned destination. We turned into a track we had previously been successful in finding orchids, which is in fact a named road. Bebenorin Road runs from Fisheries Road to Muntz Road, however calling this overgrown and unused track a road, is stretching the definition of Road. Only found some Hare orchids (Leporella fimbriata) well passed their best.
Also called Fringed hare orchid due to the labellum
Passed its best
At the junction of Shao Lu Road we park up and enjoy our hot Pea n Ham soup, whilst checking the surrounding scrub for orchids. Nothing found flowering which seems to be the narrative of the day. The overgrown track though has now improved to be a gravel road so onwards to Muntz Nature Reserve. Well the track into the gravel pit was very washed out so we turned around and no luck with orchids here either.
We move on down Muntz Road to Howick Road and travel westwards to Mount Ney Nature Reserve. This time we decided to take the track around to the West side of the park for the track into the rock. This is another overgrown track, with some deep wheel ruts. It actually extended onto the lower parts of the rock itself. We did not venture onto the rock in the Triton, as the environment of granite rocks is so delicate, so we reversed back to a place we could turn back and parked up. From here we headed onto the rock by foot and enjoyed our time exploring.
Moss n granite
Deb way off in the distance
Water pools on granite
Wefound so many Diuris leaves, yet to flower which ended the day with a feeling of frustration. It has been dry out this way, so the season is much later than last year. During winter last year we found many more orchid varieties in the locations visited today. Oh well that is nature for you. Unpredictable.
Headed straight out to Munglinup Beach camping area (Mud Map SE 33) to see if we could find some shell orchids as we did last season.There were so many rosettes however after searching high and low we only found one that was close to opening. We move location to the other area and it looked like we would be unsuccessful again with flowers yet to open found. Whilst taking photos of these I moved a branch to get a better shot and guess what? I found one opened. Yeah so happy.
Currently has a green colouring
Curled labellum is evident
Appears to be Curled-tongue shell orchid (Pterostylis rogersii) which are found from Binningup to Esperance flowering June to August. Quite content we now make tracks down to the Oldfield River for a spot of lunch. Nothing caught our eye on the slow drive in, so upon finishing lunch we made tracks for Skippy Rock. No orchids found here either !! The views over the beach though are magnificent.
View from area orchids found prior season
Our last stop will be the main visitors area of Stokes National Park. We park up at the Day Use area and head up the steps that begin the Stokes Inlet Heritage Walk Trail. We only plan on walking half of it today as it is already after 3pm. Very small Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) are spotted with many, many rosettes.
More prolific though were different types of fungi.
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As it is now past 4.30pm we make a move for home with a detour to the camping ground. Driving slowly around Deb yells with glee as she spots some large darker greenhoods. Out we jump to grab some photos in the dying daylight. As the lateral sepals have opened it appears these are Dark banded greenhoods (Pterostylis sanguinea) which flower June to September in a range from Mullewa and Toolinna Cove. They are also found in Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia.
Insect like labellum
Flattened lateral sepals
Dark reddish-brown to green flowers
Up to 10 fleshy flowers
Only the Pterostylis genus found today, however it was an awesome day out, getting some fresh air and sunshine.
Today we head east along Fisheries Road to turn north at Coolinup Road for our first exploration out Condingup way for this season. Our first stop at the small granite outcrop on the side of the road proved flowerless, however spent bunny orchids and leaves of orchids yet to flower were found. Maybe next visit will prove more successful. Next we check out the track (Mud Map SE 38) however the verges had recently been slashed so nothing found. We move on further north to a gravel pit to have a bite of lunch whilst walking around. Again no surprises found. Well onwards to a location that proved successful last season to see if anything can be found.
Thank goodness we find something in flower. Albeit a little past their prime. A snail orchid, species unknown and a Hare orchid seem to be all we can find so I take a photo just to show we actually found something.
Way past it’s prime
Seen better days
However, ever the optimists, we keep looking and woo hoo a new species for the season is found. Autumn leek orchid (Prasophyllum parvifolium), which flowers June to August in a range from Eneabba to Mt Ragged.
Forward facing petals and lateral sepals
Red markings to flowers
Single tubular leaf
Reinvigorated we continue our search. Next up we find some Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata)
Lateral sepals joined and hang downwards
United dorsal sepal and petals form a hood
Then we find another leek orchid, Scented autumn leek orchid (Prasophyllum sp. ‘early’) which flowers April to June in a range from Bunbury to Israelite Bay. As the name suggests these flower earlier than the related Autumn leek orchid and also do not have the red colouring.
Prominently recurved labellum
Green and white flowers
Its now after 3pm so we make tracks back to the Triton, however on our way back we find some more Banded greenhoods so just had to get some more shots.
Green and white striped flower
We pull into our abandoned picnic area on Merivale Road, grab a piece of fruit and go exploring. Nothing found until we get onto the granite outcrop to the west of the picnic site. Deb finds a small bunny orchid. Scattered specimens found which appear to be the Granite bunny orchid (Eriochilus pulchellus) as these flower April to May in a range from the Darling Range to Balladonia in 3 separate areas. Esperance to Balladonia being one of these specific locations.
Unusual upright dorsal sepal
Named in 2006
Dull green and red petals
Up to 10 colourful flowers
Flowers only 50 to 150mm high
Single smooth leaf, 5 to 15mm long by 3 to 8mm wide
It is now after 4.30pm so we make tracks back to the Triton. Deb finds a snail orchid so we attempt to get some shots in the fading light. Unable to distinguish the species of this orchid due to lack of rosette, 3 stems leaves and thin appearance.
3 stem leaves
No rosette this flower
thin flower with long lateral sepals
4 names species found so proved quite a successful day out. Tomorrow we plan to head West to see what is flowering out that way.
After another wonderful fully cooked breakfast, eaten for lunch this time, at the Esperance Bird & Animal Park, we head off to Helms Arboretum (Mud Map SE 35) to see if anything other than bunny orchids has shown up.
Well we are pleased to find some Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) flowering. These little beauties flower April to September in locations from Perth to Balladonia.
Single headed flower
Insect like labellum
Crowded flower heads
As we only have the afternoon to explore we jump back in the Triton and head north up the Coolgardie-Norseman Hwy to Fleming Grove Road where we take a left turn east to check out a previously successful location. We find evidence of bunny orchids and hare orchid leaves before stumbling across some more banded greenhoods sheltering under a bush. After a good 30mins or so we make tracks to the railway tracks for another explore. No luck here so onwards we go, further east, before turning south.
2 flowers hidden under bush
3 stages of development
We proved unsuccessful in finding any further orchids so have only added Pterostylis to our genera found this season.
Eriochilus, Leporella and Pterostylis, I wonder which genera will be next.
After our two weeks away it was nice to pop out to Helms Arboretum (Mud Map SE 35) to see what is in flower. Low and behold we find some White bunny orchids (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. dilatatus). Luckily many orchids were still flowering however many more had already had their season.
Full flower shot
Up to 7 flowers
What a stunner!!!
Narrow, smooth, flattened leaf 10 – 100mm long by 5 – 18mm wide
100 – 350mm high
However some bunnies had many more flowers than the documented “up to 7”. From a recent post in the Western Australian Native Orchids FB group it appears the Common bunny orchid (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. multiflorus) may exist locally. Flowering March to May in locations from Jurien Bay to Albany, now Esperance.
Like a watercolour
Up to 20 flowers per orchid
No other orchids found however was a pleasant few hours looking around this wonderful location.
After a busy time in Perth it is time to head back home. Saying goodbye to mum n dad we make a stop at the Spud shed for fruit and veg before heading east into the hills on the Brookton Hwy. A spur of the moment decision had us take a turn north to find Mount Dale. This proved more difficult than we anticipated as I misread our Hema Map so thought we were on Omeo Road when in fact we were on Ashendon Road. However we did finally find Mt Dale picnic area, so had a quick look around but again unsuccessful in our orchid hunt. Views over the swan coastal plain though were amazing.
Beautiful sunny day, excellent habitat but no orchids
12 seconds to strike a pose
Running short on time we make tracks, eating our lunch on the go, with Williams Road (Mud Map SE 6) our planned next stop. This area had proved successful on previous visits so we had high hopes for it again today. Yet again we came away orchid-less.
Looking down from the rocky hill
Disheartened we make tracks to see how far we could get before needing to pull over for the night. We made it to Gorge Rock Nature Reserve, east of Corrigin and make camp alongside 4 or so other caravaners. Not a great day, no orchids and not far in our travels back to Esperance. Oh well we have all day tomorrow.
After breakfast we leave the camper open for the sun to dry out the canvas whilst we go for a walk to the rock. No orchids found on the rock so we headed back, fully packed up and headed towards Kulin. Our first stop of the day was at the Kulin Road Nature Reserve. We walked around looking for around 15 minutes, however as we found nothing we soon moved on. Just west of Kulin we turned into a spot called Macrocarpa Trail. It was a circuit through a patch of Eucalyptus Macrocarpa, which we drove around, however as it was only 1.1km we could have walked it if we had more time. No orchids found but the flora was still spectacular.
Mottlecah – Common name
In Kulin we parked up to visit the toilets and discovered a great free overnight camp only metres off the main road through town. Will keep in mind for other visits. From here we head east along the Tin Horse Hwy where we make a small detour to check where Jilakin Rock was as we passed this by last year. A small parking area with some run down facilities, but as usual we are short on time, so chose to move on to Dragon Rocks Nature Reserve as a known location for orchids. At last we have been rewarded with some orchids. We find only White Bunny orchids, which appear to beCrinkle-leafed bunny orchid (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. undulatus).
Named road , not much more than a track
Sunny day, hats needed
Up to 3 flowers
100 to 250mm high
Single, undulate-margined leaf
Only formally names in 2006
From here we make tracks for Pallarup Rocks another of our fall-back locations. We are not disappointed. More Crinkle-leafed bunny orchids and finally another species. In the very spot we had previously found Hare orchids a few years back, we again locate some Hare orchids (Leporella fimbriata).
Growing in Resurrection plant, pincushion lily “Borya constricta”
Up to 3 flowers
Frequently found in groupings
Sharp points to the Resurrection plant make taking photos painful
Arrived home in the dark but it was an enjoyable 2 day trek home, after spending 2 glorious weeks visiting family and friends.
Everything must be in 2’s, as we only found 2 Orchid species, one of which had 2 subspecies as well.