Introduction

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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.

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Cowslip Orchids (Caladenia flava subsp. flava)

01/06/2020….. Winter is here!!

Cascade, Day Trip, Nature Reserves

First day of Winter so where should we go today for our orchid hunt? Let us go north. So we head off up the Coolgardie-Norseman Hwy and get as far as Fleming Grove Road before we stop to have our first explore. Loads of Hare orchid leaves and spent flowers are found. Then Pterostylis rosettes start to appear and finally some Banded Greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) are found in flower.

Nothing else found so we head back to the Highway to continue north. However we make a last minute change and head over the Hwy into Boydell Road, heading west. Driving along we pull over to the side of the road and check out a bit of scrubland that appeared to contain some granite rock. This proved incorrect however we did find some possible King-in-his-carriage orchid (Drakaea glyptodon) leaves. Left a marker on the road in the hope of returning to find it flowering in August. Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata) leaves also found, with some spend orchids to confirm flowering had occurred. As they can flower from as early as March it was great to find some recognisable hare orchid flowers. Finally for this new location a Banded greenhood was also found and photographed.

Travelling further east on Boydell road we turn right at the Cascades Road intersection. Our planned stop is Cascade Nature Reserve which we had visited a few years back and found some shell orchids. Unfortunately it appears to be too early for the shell orchids to be flowering this year. Just found some very small rosettes with the buds just sprouting. After exploring for a time we find many spent Pygmy orchids (Corunastylis fuscoviridis) which flower during April and May. Banded greenhoods are found just before we head back to the Triton. Cascade Falls off Loop road will be our final destination of the day.

Parking above the falls we walk down along the bank to the falls, which are just flowing at this stage of the season. From here we check out the parking area , then walk back along the track to the Triton. No flowering orchids found so we head back to the South-coast Hwy via Coomalbidgup for the drive back home. Not too bad a way to kill off 4 hours or so on a public holiday Monday.

Meanderings in May

Day Trip, National Parks, Road Trip, Stokes

09/05/2020

After a sleep in we pack up the Triton and head out east to our rock location off Merivale road. We arrive just in time for lunch, so getting our priorities right, we eat first. Whilst eating, we wander around the old abandoned picnic area and find spent White bunny orchid plants, so we may be a bit late in their season.

Just as we were to head off up the slope to the granite, 2 orchids are found in flower. Based on the leaf size I believe them to be Granite bunny orchids (Eriochilus pulchellus) which as the name suggests occur at granite outcrops from Northcliffe to Balladonia. They can grow up to 150mm in height and can have up to 10 flowers per plant. Further specimens were located as were searched around and on the granite.

On the other side of the granite outcrop I thought I had come across another bunny orchid species. This one though has larger leaves so appears to be the White bunny orchid (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. dilatatus). However on closer inspection they appear to be more Granite bunny orchids. The leaves are just towards the larger size for the species which can be 5 to 15mm in length and 3 to 8 mm in width. Others were subsequently found, with one having 6 flowers and standing easily 150mm in height.

We then moved onto the other large granite outcrop, however nothing new was found just more Granite bunny orchids. Once we got back to the picnic area I went back to what I thought was a lone orchid growing in the made made embankment which channels the water flowing off the granite away from the picnic site. There turned out to be a bunch of plants with one reaching 430mm in height. Identification confusion as the bunny orchids that reach that height both grow in the south west corner not East of Esperance.

We now decide to move on and head a little further north to our Coolinup Road locations. At the small granite rock location further Granite bunny orchids are found. At our latest location we locate a newly flowering Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) and some wonderful Hare orchids (Leporella fimbriata). At the granite section of this new location I am sure some of the bunnies found are White bunny orchids (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. dilatatus) as the leaf on one of them is over 50mm in length. Took some photos with coloured card as backdrop to see if the orchid would stand out better. Please provide feedback in comments on preferences.

23/05/2020

Off to Stokes National Park today for a walk along the trail from the Day use area to the Benwenerup Campground. We collected a friend (Deb C.) in Esperance to join us on the adventure today. We arrived at the park and after grabbing a water bottle each we commenced the walk by climbing the stairs up the embankment. From here the compacted walk trail follows the embankment with 2 lookouts over the inlet before crossing over the access road for the section to the campground. Only orchids found flowering were the Banded greenhoods.

At the campground further greenhoods were found. So after a short rest we made our way back along the trail to the access road, which we followed back to the day use area. Pictures taken of the Showy Banksia (Banksia speciosa) flowers and Zamia palms (Macrozamia dyeri) which were found in good numbers along this section of the trail. After eating our lunch, we spent some time on the inlet banks, then made tracks back to Esperance. A wonderful day out in the sunny Autumn weather.

Granite outcrops bloom with orchid flowers in April

Day Trip, Dempster Head, Road Trip

04/04/2020

We head NE of Esperance today to see if we can find the elusive Hare orchid, which we did not locate in March. At our usual spot on Wittenoom Road we pull over and check around. First up we find another of the White bunny orchids. This time we have located the Crinkle-leafed bunny orchid (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. undulatus).

As the name suggests the leaf has undulated margins. This orchid is located from Northampton to east of Esperance and can grow to 250mm in height.

Further into our search the elusive Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata) turned up. So happy that we have now found the quartet of species for the start of the season in the Esperance area.

Leporella is a monotypic genus which is found from southern Victoria to Western Australia. In WA the Hare orchids are found from north of Kalbarri to Israelite Bay.




10/04/2020

Today we head to another regular location to the east of Esperance; Coolinup Road which has increased in size due to previous explorations. Today we decide to check on the location we discovered last season.

Along the track in we are eagle eyed for orchids, however none were found before we reached the granite rock clearing. In the clearing we found many white bunny orchids that had finished flowering. Luckily there were still some in bloom.

The White bunny orchid (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. dilatatus) is found growing in the moss under the protection of a hakea bush in the shallow soil on the granite rocks.

These orchids are found between Dirk Hartog Island and Israelite Bay during the months of March, April and May and can grow to 350mm in height.

#wildorchidwatch

Many other White bunny orchids are found before Deb comes across a small drove of Hare orchids. Only one of which is in flower. Each orchid may have up to 3 flowers with pairs fairly common.

#wildorchidwatch

27/04/2020

Today I visit Dempster Head which is a shire reserve that overlooks Esperance Bay and First and West beaches. (Mud Map SE 34). First up I located some White bunny orchids growing alongside the track below the water tanks.

The size and shape of their leaves attest to my identification. With a length of 40 to 100mm and width of 5 to 18mm, the leaf of the White bunny orchid is by far the largest of the bunny orchids growing in the Esperance area.

#wildorchidwatch

Later on the granite rocks above Lovers Beach another small bunny orchid is found growing in the moss and lichen.

The Granite bunny orchid (Eriochilus pulchellus) as the name suggests is found growing in shallow soil pockets on granite outcrops from Esperance to Balladonia and Northcliffe to Bremer Bay, with a disjunct population in the Darling Scarp.

The flowering season is over April and May with plants producing up to 10 flowers. It has a short stature of up to 150mm and produces a small smooth leaf only 5 to 15mm in length and 3 to 8mm in width.

Very happy to have found during the month of April, the 3 bunny orchid types, that flower in the Esperance area.

2020 – The season begins in March

Day Trip, Helms Arboretum, Nature Reserves, Red Lake Townsite, Within 20kms of Esperance

11/03/2020

So have a guess where I went on the first official orchid hunt for the 2020 season? If you guessed Mud Map Ref: SE35 you are correct. Helms Arboretum is our so called “Rabbits foot” location and I was not let down entirely. Nothing in flower however White bunny orchids were in bud.

14/03/2020

However only 3 days later they had bloomed. Deb was with me today, so we both got to see the first orchids in flower for the season. White bunny orchid (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp.dilatatus) is found from Dirk Hartog Island to Israelite Bay. Flowering period is March to May so it is one of the first orchids to flower in WA.

28/03/2020

First up we checked out Helms Arboretum (Mud Map SE35) where we were excited to find the Leafless orchid (Praecoxanthus aphyllus). This orchid is the sole species in the genus and is endemic to Western Australia, where it is found between Pinjarra and Esperance during the months of March, April and May.

Leafless orchids may grow to 400mm in height






We then move further north and find some Pygmy orchids (Corunastylis fuscoviridis) in the Redlake townsite Nature Reserve. This orchid was originally named in 1883 and placed in the Prasophyllum genus however in 2002 it was moved to the Corunastylis genus. Then in 2018 it was re-named C. fuscoviridis as it was formally named C.tepperi, which is a species found in Victoria and South Australia. This is the sole West Australian species and is located from Corrigin to Eyre. It is also found in South Australia and Victoria, hence the naming issues.

Pygmy orchids may grow to 250mm in height but they are very difficult to spot in the leaf litter.

March proved to be the month when the Orchid season began in my local area. Four species are recorded as flowering during March around the Esperance area. We were lucky enough to find three of the four, with the Hare orchid the being the elusive species.

Final hoorah of 2019 season

Helms Arboretum, Within 20kms of Esperance

27/09/2019

On my drive back in from the airport, after flying back from Melbourne via Perth, I stop in at Helms Arboretum (Mud Map SE 35) to have a quick look around. Only 2 orchids found due to the limited time available.

 

Common bee orchid

Diuris decrementa

Common mignonette orchid

Microtis media subsp. media

This lightning visit turns out to be my final orchid adventure for the 2019 season. Highlights were numerous and I will miss many, however some I remember whilst writing this final blog for the season were:

First time finds: Twisted sun orchid, Tenterden yellow spider orchid, Karri snail orchid, common bunny orchid and others.

Hybrids : Northern sandplain spider orchid (1st time find as well), Dusky fairy orchid, Spectacular spider orchid and other un-named ones.

Summer bushfire blooms : Rabbit orchids, Blue beards, Red beaks and Pink bunny orchids in Boyatup.

New Locations discovered : Narembeen shire, Westonia shire, Mukinbudin shire, Mount Marshall shire and Perenjori shire to name a few.

Successful sharing – Boyatup and more

Day Trip

22/09/2019

We are collected from our home by Eric and his father, for an orchid adventure out east of Esperance. We will be showing them our Boyatup location ( Mud Map SE 40) and in return we get chauffeured and have the chance to discuss our findings, views, information and thoughts on our beautiful terrestrial orchids. Enjoying the great outdoors by taking nothing but photographs and leaving only footprints.

Our Boyatup location had been affected by bushfire last summer, so this will be our first visit since early August. It will interesting to see which orchids are in flower later in the season after a summer bushfire.

As usual we turn off fisheries Road into the track leading to the rock and jump out once the first orchid is spied. Seen by Deb of course :). Following will be photos taken of the orchids found along this first part of the track.






Purple Enamel Orchid

Elythranthera brunonis

One of the 2 species found in Western Australia.

The Purple enamel orchid was named in 1963.

Can grow to a height of 300mm







Red beaks

Pyrorchis nigricans

One of the 2 species found in Western Australia.

Red beaks were named in 1810 and placed in the Lyperanthus genus before being moved into the Pyrorchis genus in 1994.

Can grow to a height of 300mm




Common bee orchid

Diuris decrementa

One of the 18 species in the Laxiflora complex of the Diuris genus found in Western Australia

Common bee orchid was named in 2013

Can grow to a height of 300mm

Cowslip orchid

Caladenia flava subsp. flava

One of the 4 subspecies of Cowslip orchid (caladenia flava) found in Western Australia

The Cowslip orchid was named in 1810

Can grow to a height of 250mm





Rattle beaks

Lyperanthus serratus

Is the single Western Australian species of the Lyperanthus genus

Rattle beaks were named in 1840

Can grow to a height of 500mm

We have now reached the gravel pit so drive across this to the track leading to the granite outcrop named Boyatup hill. Back in August we found loads of Pink bunny orchids and Blue beards, plus other orchids in smaller numbers. Let’s see what is now in flower. The following photos are of the orchids found in the area which was burnt by last summers bushfire.



Red beaks



Pyrorchis nigricans



Granite china orchid

Cyanicula nikulinskyae

One of the 8 species in the Gemmata complex of the Cyanicula genus found in Western Australia

Granite china orchid was named in 2000

Can grow to a height of 130mm







White mignonette orchid

Microtis alba

One of the 10 species found in Western Australia

White mignonette orchid named in 1810

Can grow to a height of 600mm




Tall leek orchid

Prasophyllum elatum

One of the 16 species in the Elatum complex of the Prasophyllum genus found in Western Australia

Tall leek orchid was named in 1810

Can grow to a height of 1200mm




Pointing spider orchid

Caladenia exstans

One of the 9 species in the Falcata complex of the Caladenia genus found in Western Australia

Pointing spider orchid was named in 2001

Can grow to a height of 450mm




Zebra orchid

Caladenia cairnsiana

One of the 2 species in the Cairnsiana complex of the Caladenia genus found in Western Australia

Zebra orchid was named in 1869

Can grow to a height of 400mm

Pink candy orchid

Caladenia hirta subsp. rosea

One of 2 subspecies in the Hirta complex of the Caladenia genus in Western Australia

Pink candy orchid was named in 2001

Can grow to a height of 250mm

Hypochromic variant






Cowslip orchid

Caladenia flava subsp. flava

Rabbit orchid

Leptoceras menziesii

Is the only member of the genus Leptoceras

Rabbit orchids were named in 1810 and placed in the Caladenia genus before being moved into the monotypic genus Leptoceras in 1840.

Can grow to a height of 300mm




Common bee orchid




Diuris decrementa




Esperance king spider orchid

Caladenia decora

One of the 22 species in the Huegelii complex of the Caladenia genus found in Western Australia

Esperance king spider orchid was named in 2001

Can grow to a height of 500mm




Dusky fairy orchid

Caladenia x erminea

Hybrid between Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava) and White fairy orchid (Caladenia marginata)

Dusky fairy orchid was named in 2001

Can grow to a height of 160mm

Beautiful donkey orchid

Diuris pulchella

One of the 26 species in the Corymbosa complex of the Diuris genus found in Western Australia

Beautiful donkey orchid was named in 1991

Can grow to a height of 500mm




Western wispy spider orchid

Caladenia microchila

One of the 43 species in the Filamentosa complex of the Caladenia genus found in Western Australia

Western wispy spider orchid was named in 2001

Can grow to a height of 250mm

Esperance white spider orchid

Caladenia longicauda subsp. crassa

One of the 14 subspecies of C. longicauda, which is one of the 14 species in the Longicauda complex of the Caladenia genus found in Western Australia

Esperance white spider orchid was named in 2001

Can grow to a height of 500mm




Heberle’s spider orchid

Caladenia heberleana

One of 22 species of the Huegelii complex in the Caladenia genus found in Western Australia

Heberle’s spider orchid was named in 2001

Can grow to a height of 450mm




White fairy orchid

Caladenia marginata

One of the 4 species in the Latifolia complex of the Calendenia genus found in Western Australia

White fairy orchid was named in 1839

Can grow to a height of 200mm




Custard orchid

Thelymitra villosa

One of the 6 species in the Antennifera complex of the Thelymitra genus found in Western Australia

Custard orchid was named in 1839

Can grow to a height of 600mm




Blue china orchid

Cyanicula gemmata

One of 8 species in the Gemmata complex of the Cyanicula genus found in Western Australia

Blue china orchid was named in 1839

Can grow to a height of 150mm




Condingup china orchid

Cyanicula sp. ‘Esperance’

One of the 8 species in the Gemmata complex of the Cyanicula genus found in Western Australia

Condingup china orchid was first collected in 1996 but is yet to be formally named

Can grow to a height of 150mm




Laughing leek orchid

Prasophyllum macrostachyum

One of 4 species in the Gracile complex of the Prasophyllum genus found in Western Australia

Laughing leek orchid was named in 1810

Can grow to a height of 300mm




Bearded bird orchid

Pterostylis turfosa

One of 13 species in the Barbata complex of the Pterostylis genus found in Western Australia

Bearded bird orchid was named in 1840

Can grow to a height of 200mm




Hybrid spider orchid

Caladenia x

Unnamed hybrid orchid. Possible parents: C. decora: C. longicauda: C. heberleana: C. hirta:




Lunch time and it’s time we move on. Eric wishes to show us a location where he has previously found the Holy Grail of orchids: Queen of Sheba orchid. He did not have to ask us twice. After having a bite to eat we head off at this new location, just off Parmango Road. Immediately we come across a new orchid, that Deb and myself had never seen. The following orchids are the ones found at this new location, which is now firmly added to our must visit sites.




Twisted sun orchid

Thelymitra flexuosa

One of the 6 species in the Antennifera complex of the Thelymitra genus found in Western Australia

Twisted sun orchid was named in 1839

Can grow to a height of 350mm




Purple enamel orchid

Elythanthera brunonis

Common bee orchid

Diuris decrementa

Cowslip orchid

Caladenia flava subsp. ?



Rattle beaks

Lyperanthus serratus

White mignonette orchid

Microtis alba



Custard orchid

Thelymitra villosa

Dancing spider orchid

Caladenia discoidea

A distinct species of the Caladenia genus endemic to Western Australia

Dancing spider orchid was named in 1839

Can grow to a height of 450mm




Lemon-scented sun orchid

Thelymitra antennifera

One of the 6 species in the Antennifera complex of the Thelymitra genus found in Western Australia

Lemon-scented sun orchid was named in 1840

Can grow to a height of 250mm




Jug orchid

Pterostylis recurva

A unique species of the Pterostylis genus endemic to Western Australia

Jug orchid was named in 1873

Can grow a height of 900mm


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What a great new location this was off Parmango Road. Time to move on, so we take Eric and his father to our original location off Coolinup road which is on the other side of Condingup. Here we first visit the gravel pit, then decide to bush bash down to our small granite location. The orchids listed below were found on that bush bash plus around the small granite location.




Esperance king spider orchid

Caladenia decora

Laughing leek orchid

Prasophyllum macrostachyum

Heberle’s spider orchid

Caladenia heberleana



Common bee orchid

Diuris decrementa

Bearded bird orchid

Pterostylis turfosa



Purple enamel orchid

Elythranthera brunonis

It proved a very successful day with Boyatup proving itself once again to be a magnificent location for orchids, with this season especially good after last summers bushfire. Thanks to Eric for sharing his Parmango Road location we finally got to see the Twisted sun orchid in bloom and Eric the custard orchid. Nearly 6 hrs spent searching for orchids in great company.

Road Trip 2019 – Ravensthorpe to Esperance

National Parks, Numerous days, Road Trip, Stokes

08/09/2019

After a wonderful night at our son’s place it is time to head off on the final day of our road trip. Leaving Ravensthorpe we make our way to Mt Desmond lookout, off Elverdton Road. Growing alongside the newly grader road to the lookout, were some small Western tiny blue orchids (Cyanicula aperta). Felt lucky to find them as the roadworks had cleared the places we had found orchids on previous visits. These little orchids are found from Dumbleyung to Mt Ragged during the period August to early-October. Also found closer to Elverdton Road was a Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) which is a common orchid, found flowering between Geraldton and Israelite Bay during August through October.

Moving further east, we visit another of our favourite spots, Mills Road near Munglinup. Deb finds the first of many orchids found in this location. The 4 orchids are hybrids of the Caladenia sp. Unable to positively ID so will just post some photos. I think Caladenia radialis or Caladenia brevisura may one of the parents. Please assist with ID if you can.

Found very close-by are some Zebra orchids (Caladenia cairnsiana). These small orchids flower from August to early-November in a southerly range from Lancelin to Esperance.

Intermixed with the Zebra orchids was a Short-sepaled spider orchid (Caladenia brevisura) which adds to the possibility that it is a parent of the hybrid orchids found earlier. These orchids are found between Ravensthorpe and Israelite Bay during the months of August and September.

After further exploration a sole green spider orchid was discovered. However many more were found after further searching. The Small mantis orchid (Caladenia attingens subsp. gracillima) is as the name suggests, smaller than the related Fringed mantis orchid, we found earlier in the road trip. Flowering season is August to early-October and the Small mantis orchid is found between Jerramungup and Israelite Bay,

Another spider orchid is found, this time from the filamentosa complex. The Cream spider orchid (Caladenia horistes) flowers from August to early-October between Fitzgerald River National Park and Balladonia. The Cream spider orchid is also listed as having rare hybrids with the short-sepaled spider orchid, so it may be another parent of the previously mentioned hybrids found at this site.

A single spider orchid from the same complex, but another species is found. This time the smaller Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila) is found. Smaller labellum, thinner sepals and whiter colouring provide me with this identification.

The final orchid found in this location is the small Western tiny blue orchid.

As it is only mid-morning we decide to visit Stokes National Park, before finally heading for home. Upon arriving at the campground we immediately spy some king spider orchids. One of them is a bit worse for wear with his labellum eaten out. Non damaged specimens found with variations in colour, from bright red to pale green so identifying these will be interesting, as both the Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora) and Heberle’s spider orchid (Caladenia heberleana) occur in this location and they are difficult to tell apart. They may also hybridise with each other, so ID will not be attempted at this time. Lots of photos below to show my dilemma.

Well we thought there were lots of king spider orchids, but there is also as many Pink fairies (Caladenia latifolia), which flower from August to early-November between Kalbarri and Israelite Bay. Here they range in size and colour, which just adds to the thrill of finding so many.

Some Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) were also found, whilst pushing into the scrub to grab photos of the Pink fairies. Moving on, we leave the campground and drive back towards the intersection to the day area,where we had previously found orchids. We were not disappointed as we find a few Lemon-scented sun orchids (Thelymitra antennifera) in flower. These are widespread sun orchids found from Shark Bay to Israelite Bay during the months July through October.

Also found at this corner is the every popular Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) which is also a widespread orchid with a long flowering period. These ones were a bit unusual as they had white tips to the petals. Usually solid yellow with markings.

Final orchid found for the day was a unique spider orchid, which we last found at Helms Arboretum a few years back. A single Grass-leafed spider orchid (Caladenia graminifolia) is found growing in the roadside drain under the protection of overhanging banksia bushes. Found between Mt Manypeaks and Israelite Bay during August and September this orchid self pollinates so is in flower for only a few days at the most,so we are very lucky to have found one in flower.

One hour from home and nearly noon so we decide to make tracks, so we can have lunch in our own home. Mixed emotions as we remember the last 2 weeks during this last hour of our 2019 Road Trip.

The first week did not go to plan however we made up for it by visiting Margaret River and tasting a few wines. Then we had a great time catching up with friends from our Rural youth days before our 2nd week, which did not include the planned visit to Charles Darwin Reserve, however we discovered some great new un-planned locations. A special catch up with my cousin Mary-lou that included meeting the eldest cousin Ian for the first time. Only took 55 years.

The major purpose of our road trip, other than having fun getting out in the great Western Australian outdoors, is the discovery of our very special terrestrial orchids, most of which are endemic to WA. On this note we located 70 species/sub species of orchids from 10 genera, with multiple hybrids and hypochromic variants. Refer this post for their details. 2019 Road Trip – Orchids Found

So privileged to witness the natural beauty of our amazing little corner of the world!!!!!!

2019 Road Trip – Orchids Found

List of Orchids Found, Numerous days, Road Trip

I have listed the orchids found in chronological order

24/08/2019

2019 Road Trip – Ravensthorpe to Nunijup Lake

25/08/2019

2019 Road Trip – Nunijup Lake to Redmond West (Mundal 4WD Track)

26/08/2019

2019 Road Trip – Redmond West to North Walpole

27/08/2019

2019 Road Trip – North Walpole to Shannon

28/08/2019

2019 Road Trip – Shannon to Sue’s Bridge

29/08/2019

2019 Road Trip – Sue’s Bridge to Margaret River

30/08/2019

2019 Road Trip – Margaret River

31/08/2019

2019 Road Trip – Margaret River to Bedfordale

02/09/2019

2019 Road Trip – Bedfordale to Caron Dam Reserve via Lake Indoon

03/09/2019

2019 Road Trip – Caron Dam Reserve to Burakin

04/09/2019

2019 Road Trip – Burakin to Beringbooding Rock

05/09/2019

2019 Road Trip – Beringbooding Rock to Narembeen

06/09/2019

2019 Road Trip – Narembeen to Flat Rock Nature Reserve

07/09/2019

2019 Road Trip – Flat Rock Nature Reserve to Ravensthorpe

08/09/2019

Road Trip 2019 – Ravensthorpe to Esperance

2019 Road Trip – Flat Rock Nature Reserve to Ravensthorpe

Lake Varley, Nature Reserves, Numerous days, Pallarup, Road Trip

07/09/2019

We wake up to a beautiful sunny spring morning. A leisurely breakfast was enjoyed as we know our destination today, so no need to rush. It’s after 9am before we finally leave Flat Rock Nature Reserve and head off in an easterly direction down the Kulin-Holt Rock Road. We reach Lake Varley and pull over on the side of the road and decide to check out the flat granite outcrop, which we later find is a part of the Lake Varley Nature Reserve.

Deb finds the first orchid growing under the scrub at the edge of the rock. The wonderful yellow donkey orchids are again flowering at the edge of the rock under the protection of the scrubs. The Western wheatbelt donkey orchid (Diuris brachyscapa) is know to grow in the region with sightings recorded in Atlas of Living Australia. Kulin shire is also one of the Local Government Areas (LGA) listed in Florabase as being a location for this orchid. Links to these resources are found via the “+” sign at the bottom of every page.

Close by some wispy spider orchids are found. Due the creamy colouring of the flowers they appear to be the Cream spider orchid (Caladenia horistes) which flowers from August to early-October over an easterly range from Fitzgerald River National Park to Balladonia, however Kulin LGA is listed in Florabase as a location for this orchid.

Another yellow orchid pops up. The wonderful Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) is such a cheerful orchid to find. Bright yellow flowers with such random markings; from spots, stripes, blotches to barely none at all. This little grouping has mainly spots. The view back to the Triton provides an indication of the habitat we are exploring.

Other orchids found were a solitary Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata) and Hairy-stemmed snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘inland’) . Both have vast inland ranges and flower during September.

Then a perfect specimen of the Drooping spider orchid (Caladenia radialis) is found in all it’s glory. Another inland orchid but only found from Northampton to Jerramungup, so not as widespread as the Sugar or Hairy stemmed Snail orchids.

Well now the Ant orchid (Caladenia roei) turns up to entertain us. They are said to resemble a crucifix due to the petals and lateral sepals.

Then came across more Sugar orchids and a grouping of Western wheatbelt donkey orchids before finally heading back to the Triton. Last small orchids found were the Little laughing leek orchid (Prasophyllum gracile) which were camouflaged well in the moss on the granite rock.

Time to move onto our next place to explore. We detour a slight bit to check out Holt Rock. We drive into the day use area of Holt Rock but chose not to go for an exploration, though it looks like a great place to check out another time. Further south we arrive at Varley and go check out a place on the map named Dempster Rock. After a little searching we find a track into the approximate area. Looking out our windows we are rewarded with orchids.

Some old favourites were the first found. Sugar orchids and Jug orchids (Pterostylis recurva) . Both are common orchids but always a pleasure to find.

Then the spider orchids start jumping out of the woodlands. They have strong yellow tonings and therefore appear to be the Chameleon spider orchid (Caladenia dimidia) which flowers July to September in the range Paynes Find to Norseman. My references refer to them being yellow, cream or pink-red in colour with either a small pale yellow or pale white red striped labellum. Whiter specimens are found close by.

Identifying the spider orchids is difficult given many overlap in locations and they have similar features. The Western wispy spider orchid and the Ironcaps spider orchid both also have smaller labellums than others plus the Ironcaps spider orchid also varies in colour from creamy-white to pale yellow. All three orchids are shown as being located in the Varley area in the Atlas of Living Australia.

Now we do find other orchids as well, so I will mention these ones now before adding more varied spider orchid photos. Hairy-stemmed snail orchids, Blue beards (Pheladenia deformis), Little laughing leek orchids, sugar orchids and Western wheatbelt donkey orchids are found.

The most amazing find though was a Midget greenhood (Pterostylis mutica). The reason for my amazement – is it’s height of 190mm. The tallest I have ever seen. These orchids are found in all the states of Australia which is quite amazing.

Now back to these other spider orchids. Firstly we found more Drooping spider orchids or are they? Possible hybrid with the c. dimidia as the labellum is very pale in colour with smooth margins. So I will leave the actual identification for now.

Then other spider orchids found. Some in clumps and some in isolation but all beautiful as ever. Some white, whilst others had reddish tones. Any help in naming these would be appreciated.

Getting peckish, so we finally leave this great new location and head back to Varley then down to Lake King for a meal at the tavern. After a great counter lunch and beer, we cruise further south to one of our favourite patches, Pallarup Rock. Located in the Pallarup Nature Reserve this location proves a fruitful orchid patch on most visits. Today is no exception. Within minutes we locate the first of many orchids. The Pink candy orchid (Caladenia hirta subsp. rosea) is found in many colour variations. This first one is very pale but others are bright pink.

Next up we find some donkey orchids. The Western wheatbelt donkey orchid has been recorded in the Lake Grace shire whilst the other possible orchid, the Green Range donkey orchid is recorded in the Ravensthorpe shire which is nearer the coast. The basal leaves observed are not that wide which is causing me some angst in trying to ID them, so I will just posts the pics.

We now move onto the track to the water tank and at the junction find some more Sugar orchids. Then on the side of this track the first orchids found are Frog greenhoods (Pterostylis sargentii) which was named in honour of Oswald Sargent in 1905. He was an early West Australian orchidologist and pharmacist from York, where the specimen used to name it was collected in 1904.

Moving along the track the first of the spider orchids appear. The first one is an excellent example of the wispy complex. As there is one lonely specimen I will not attempt to name it, as there are too many variables with these wispy spider orchids. It could be one of three known to this location or a hybrid between two of them.

Close by is another spider orchid, but from the White spider orchid compex this time. As the sepals and petals are not that pendulous I believe this to be the Rigid white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. rigidula) which is found between Ravensthorpe and Israelite bay from August to October. Florabase records Lake Grace and Dundas LGA’s as also being the location of this orchid, so 50kms north of Ravensthorpe in the Lake Grace shire seems appropriate.

EDIT: With thanks to Margaret’s assistance (refer comments) the ID has been clarified as an unnamed subspecies of Caladenia longicauda. I will provide my own common name as Pallarup Rock white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. ‘Pallarup Rocks’). Exciting to find a new subspecies.

A small blue orchid catches Deb’s eagle eye. A lone china orchid is found. This pretty blue orchid has not been found in this location on any of our numerous prior visits, so this is an exciting find. Due to the darker blue colouring, scattered calli on labellum and the location this orchid must be the Blue china orchid (Cyanicula gemmata) which has the largest range of all china orchids in WA, being from Kalbarri to Israelite Bay. Flowering period is August to early-November. The one feature that did cause me confusion with the ID was the colour of the labellum, as the mostly blue labellum conflicted with the pictures in my references, which show the labellum as being mostly white or blue striped.

EDIT: With thanks to Margaret’s assistance (refer comments) the ID has been clarified as the Granite china orchid (Cyanicula nikulinskyae) which is restricted to a range between Fitzgerald River National Park and Israelite Bay. My location is 50kms north of this coastline. Flowering period is September to early-November.

Further white spider orchids were found and their features confirm my identification as Rigid white spider orchids. Also another wispy spider orchid is found and this one appears to be the Common spider orchid (Caladenia vulgata) which as the name suggests is found over a large area, from Kalbarri to Esperance, flowering during the period July to mid-October.

Next up we come across some Ant orchids. They are also known as Clown orchid, Man orchid and Jack-in-the Box.

More yellow patches are seen growing in the Pincushion plant (Borya constricta) and Sundew (Drosera). The Lemon-scented sun orchids (Thelymitra antennifera) are another widespread orchid which flower from July to October. The latin name antennifer (antennae) refers to the little lobes on the column.

Many more spider orchids are found together with patches of Cowslips and Blue beards popping up here and there. A wonderful kaleidoscope of colours.