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.
After a morning at work, my 1/2 RDO arrives, so I race home to catch a bite to eat with Tim before we make our final pack of the Triton and camper. Off to Puma for diesel, then back home as we forgot the porta loo. Finally on the road by 2.30pm with our first planned stop being Overshot Hill rest area north of Ravensthorpe. However Debbie has other ideas. At 4.30pm she pulls over to our spot on Mills Road, just past Munglinup. I jump out of the Triton and immediately spy a small clump of spider orchids. They appear to be the Cream spider orchid (Caladenia horistes), which flower August to early October in a range from Fitzgerald River National Park to Balladonia.
Creamy-white, red-striped labellum
Nice clumping of orchids
Spreading to pendulous petals and lateral sepals
Up to 2 cream to creamy-yellow flowers
Relatively large labellum
Close by are our first South coast donkey orchids (Diuris sp. ‘south coast’) of the season. These are found between Denmark and Munglinup during the period, late June to August.
Up to 10 flowers per plant
Tri-lobed labellum with broad, spreading lateral lobes and a broad, flattened to convex mid lobe.
Recurved lateral sepals
Broad petals and dorsal sepal
Also found were some Western tiny blue orchids (Cyanicula aperta), which flower August to early October in a range from Dumbleyung to Mt Ragged.
Reddish-mauve prominently tri-lobed labellum
Short horizontal petals and lateral sepals
A few metres away Debbie finds some Hairy-stemmed snail orchids (Pterostylis sp. ‘inland’) and other spider orchids.
Erect lateral seapls
Common inland, extremely variable snail orchid
We then nearly step on some Zebra orchids (Caladenia cairnsiana) which flower August to early November in a range from Esperance to Lancelin. These were intermixed with more spider orchids.
Glandular apex to labellum
Red striped labellum with dense central band of calli
Short hanging petals and lateral sepals
Nearly 5pm so we make our way to our planned overnight stay at Overshot Hill rest area in the Nature Reserve of the same name. Unsure if the other spider orchids are also Cream spider orchids or other species from the Wispy complex. Feel free to comment as to the species name for the images below.
We are busy organising ourselves for our 2 week road trip, so given this is our final weekend, we take a few hours break and head out to Helm’s Arboretum (Mud Map SE35) to see what is flowering now. We make our way to the plot we usually find many snail orchids, however the first orchid found is the small Western Tiny Blue Orchid (Cyanicula aperta). These little beauties are found August to early October in a range from Dumbleyung and Mt Ragged.
50 – 150mm tall
Short horizontal spreading petals and lateral sepals
Two rows of bright yellow calli
Then we stumble across the snail orchids we had come to see. Still unable to name this species due to it not matching up with any of my reference books on location and or description. Variation in rosettes may infer they are actually 2 species.
Narrowly clubbed sepals
Not a slender snail
Standing tall with a shorter version
Sparse rosette of long stemmed leaves
Next I find the usual Esperance king spider orchids (Caladenia decora) in flower.
Size of flower compared to my hand
White red-tipped labellum
Spreading petals and lateral sepals
Whilst I take photos of the spider orchids Deb gets chatting to a fellow orchid enthusiast who shares with us her location of some Southern curly locks (Thelymitra uliginosa) within Helm’s Arboretum. We make our way to the said location and after around 15 mins of searching we find these small orchids flowering in the beautiful sunshine. The flowers themselves are only a 10c piece in size. These flower August and September in a range from Northcliffe and Mt Manypeaks with disjunct populations in Esperance and Perth.
2 erect ear like lateral lobes
Distinctive column with mid lobe and two erect ear like lobes
Up to 2, rarely 3, flowers per stem
Distinctive striped flowers
Opens in bright sunshine
Typical sun orchid- facing the sun
Spiral leaf – Narrow up to 90mm in length
Flowers 20 – 30 mm accross
100 to 300mm in height
Forward projecting mid lobe to column
Deep blue-mauve striped flowers
So happy to have found some Southern curly-locks as the one and only previously found plant we could not be located this year.
Saying our goodbyes to Kirstie and Hamish we set off for a leisurely trip home to Esperance. Usually a 7 to 8 hr drive over 725km, we however take 15hrs, as we make numerous stops to hunt for orchids. Our first destination is Mount Dale in the Helena National Park. The wind is very chilly, however we brave this on our search for some orchid colour. We are not disappointed. First colour spotted is “yellow”. A Donkey orchid is found, but which one?? I’m making the call for the Winter donkey orchid (Diuris brumalis) which flower late June to August in a range from Jurien Bay to Collie. They prefer lateritic or granitic soils and up here in the hills that is the soil types encountered. Other specimens were found throughout our search of this area.
Up to 15 flowers
Hanging lateral sepals
Short, erect, very broad dorsal sepal
Broad, elongated petals
Yet to fully open
Close to our first donkey the next colour found is “pink”. Little pink fairy orchid (Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans) is found growing in the shelter of a granite boulder. These little beauties flower July to early October in a range from Northampton to Esperance. Singles, pairs and groupings are found in our extended search.
Deb then finds the colour “green”. A small patch of snail orchids hidden in a bush so only one visible for a photo. Could not see the rosette however based on location, pointed hood with brownish tones and medium sized lateral sepals, I will be naming it as Slender snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘crinkled leaf”). These flower late June to September in a large range from Perth down to Albany. Another patch yet to fully flower was found and the rosettes appear to confirm my classification.
Often pointed hood
Pushing up through thick scrubbery
Crinkled leaf rossette
Another species of “mixed” colour is found by Deb. Once again hidden or protected near a granite boulder. It appears to be an Autumn leek orchid (Prasophyllum parvifolium) which has been fertilised.
Pinkish tones belies the species
Possible pollinator on one of the flowers
Next is a similarly “mixed” coloured orchid, which I found after pushing into the scrub for a few metres. Firstly I found a large patch of leaves and then with a slower look some orchids flowering were discovered. The genus of Cyrtostylis is known, but which species is it? By the smaller , duller flowers they must be the Midge orchid (Cyrtostylis huegelli) which is found from Kalbarri to east of Esperance during July and September.
Many leaves, only a few flowering so far
Forward facing labellum, sepals and petals.
Dull red, green, fawn flowers
Narrower labellum than the related Mosquito orchid
Well Mount Dale proved a good hunting ground with 5 species flowering, plus Jug and Bird orchids yet to flower found. Already 2.5 hrs (65kms) into our drive home, so we better move on, or we will break our 12 hr record for the drive home. Next stop planned is Williams Road (Mud Map SE6) however we detour into Westdale Road (Mud Map SE5) to see if we can find some of the species listed in the guide. First off we find the Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) which flowers August to October in a range from Geraldton and Israelite Bay.
One flower in 3 stages of bloom
Deb is off exploring further whilst I slowly finish taking phone and camera pics of the Jug orchid. Only 2 mtrs away I find the Blood spider orchid (Caladenia filifera) and call Deb back to see. On the way back she also finds other specimens less than a metre off her original walk track. They are so hard to see until you find them , then they stick out more easily as we continue searching.
Glistening in the sun
Blood red in colour
Uniformly blood red flowers
Long pendulous petals and lateral sepals
Disbursed around the area are Common donkey orchids (Diuris corymbosa) which flower August to October in a range from Gingin to Bunbury and inland to near Brookton, our actual location funnily enough.
Up to eight flowers per plant
Often crossed lateral sepals
Broad erect dorsal sepal
Another new find for the season is the Blue beard (Phelandenia deformis) which flower late May to October in a range from Murchison River to Israelite Bay. Only 3 small flowers found but still it is a new one for this season.
Short spreading petals and sepals
It is now 4 hrs since we left and we have only covered 90kms of the distance home. Better get a move on. 20kms later we arrive at Williams Road (Mud Map SE6) where we had planned to explore for at least an hour as Deb had quickly checked this out on Tuesday when she drove to Perth, when she found at least 4 species flowering. First up we locate some more Common donkey orchids before Deb calls me over to a patch of at least 3 species in close proximity.
Broad elongated petals
Short, labellum mid lobe
First up are Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) and Hairy-stemmed snail orchids (Pterostylis sp. ‘inland’).
Up to 14 stem leaves and 25 flowers per plant
Then as previously found in this location, there are Shell orchids everywhere. Many are finished as they flower from May to August. Mud Map records both Red and Brown veined shell orchids here in July so we have missed the peak flowering period it seems. From the flowering plants I believe them to be Red-veined shell orchids (Pterostylis hamiltonii) as they are darker coloured and most have the labellum protruding from the hood formed by the dorsal sepal and petals. These flower in a range from Toodyay to the Stirling Range in woodlands and Rock Sheoak thickets.
Also located close-by are some Little pink fairy orchids. So 4 species all within a 3 square metres area. Great find Deb.
Leaf tinged purple on the underside
Squat petals and lateral sepals
Labellum – Gives the common name away
Other species found during our search were Dark banded greenhood (Pterostylis sanguinea) and Jug orchid. Also found was a meeting of Banded greenhood and Shells plus a Banded greenhood with a huge inflorescence.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
It’s now after 1.15pm and we have only travelled 110km of the 725km trip. Back to the Triton and a huge patch of spent shells is found plus the very first Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) for the season. These flower from north of Geraldton to Israelite Bay during July to December.
Carpets of shell orchids
Such bright yellow
Onwards to Brookton where we grabbed a Parmi Wrap for lunch. (Parma for Farmer – raising funds for drought relief in NSW/QLD). Eating whilst driving to catch up some time our next planned stop is the Corrigin Wildflower Trail which goes around the airport and is part of the Corrigin Nature Reserve. Taking the road in from the Dog Cemetery our first find are some more Little pink fairies
Nothing else found so onwards we go at a slow pace, then I jump out to walk and find some Frog greenhoods (Pterostylis sargentii) which flower between July and October in a range from Northampton to Grasspatch. They are very small and growing underneath bushes, making photo taking a lay down on the job task. Further Frog greenhoods are found along the trail.
Cupped lateral sepals
Green to dark-brown, white banded flowers
Bright green colouring in the sunshine
Up to 6 flowers per plant
Glistening in the sunshine
Up to 10 stem leaves
Fleshy, tri-lobed, frog-like labellum
Further along the track whilst walking I spy some nice snail orchids. They are the Robust snail orchid (Pterostylis dilatata). Another grouping was found further along by Deb whilst driving slowly along.
Standing up to 150mm in height
Erect, clubbed lateral sepals
3 to 5 stem leaves
Nice group shot
A sole Jug orchid was also found just yawning like a Pelican and further along what appears to be Pterostylis arbuscular which is a Mallee form of banded greenhood. No common name yet.
Slowly opening – Pelican yawning!!
Not yet opened
Finally a donkey orchid was found. Based on location alone this must be the Western wheatbelt donkey orchid (Diuris brachyscapa) which flowers July to September between York, Tenterden and Ravensthorpe. Corrigin is slightly east of the line York to Ravensthorpe.
Pale yellow, brown marked flowers
Up to four flowers per palnt
Short, broad dorsal sepal
Narrow, hanging, often reflexed, crossed lateral sepals
Nearly 4pm, or 8hrs into our trip home and we have only completed 220km of the 725km required. Best move on to our next planned stop, Macrocarpa Trail near Kulin. Just before 5pm Deb finds our first orchid of this trail. Appears to be Hairy-stemmed snail orchids.
Standing up to 150mm in height
Side n rear views
Extremely variable species
up to 3 stem leaves
Time for a chat
Lateral sepals up to 35mm in length
Also found further Frog greenhoods, Robust snail orchids, Dark banded greenhoods and another possible Pterostlyis arbuscular.
Nice double header
Variable coloured greenhood ..Possible common name
Then as the light is fading fast we venture into the bush and finally there they are.. Spider orchids in flower. We now rush to get as many photos as possible .. They are so small and with the fading light our photos are not the best but we need to record the find. From the location and size I believe we found the Common spider orchid (Caladenia vulgata) and the Pendant spider orchid (Caladenia pendens subsp. pendens) which both flower during August. The former July to October and the latter August to early October. The Common spider orchid ranges from Kalbarri to Esperance whilst the Pendant spider orchid ranges from Wongan Hills and Walpole. The Length of the petals and lateral sepals are a distinguishing feature.
Found in a variety of habitats
Tangle of petals and sepals
creamy-white red striped labellum
Slightly less pendulous that the Common spider orchid
Latin, vulgaris means common, ordinary
Standing 150 to 300mm high
Long pendulous petals and lateral sepals
Relatively broad red-striped labellum
The sun finally sets on our orchid hunting so we make tracks via Lake Grace for Steak Burger / Fish n chips dinner. Then after 15hrs we arrive home at 11pm. Long day however very happy at finding 20 species of orchid.
Went for a quick walk around the lake at dusk, with my daughter Kirstie and we found lots of leaves for Caladenia sp. but no orchids in bloom found. As it was getting cold and late ,we gave up and went back to her home.
Beautiful sunny morning so Kirstie, Hamish, Deb and I went to check out a couple of garage sales. On the way back Deb and I pop back into the bush around Yangebup Lake and we visit the patch of leaves Kirstie and I found late yesterday afternoon. Further in the scrub Deb locates some snail orchids in flower. No phone or camera in my possession so I plan on coming back later this morning to grab some photos. After playing Mario Racing on the Nintendo Switch, I quickly pop back and grab some photos. On checking the Field Guide I believe the snail orchid to be the Murdoch snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘cauline leaves’) due to location, numerous stem leaves and short lateral sepals. These orchids range from Perth and Walpole and flower August to September.
80 – 250mm in height
4 – 10 stem leaves
This is the first orchid recorded from the Perth metropolitan area in my BLOG. Was hoping to find more but one is a start.
On a fine but windy afternoon we decide to spend a couple hours traipsing around Dempster Head (Mud Map SE34) with the hope of finding some orchids in flower. I finally find a Mosquito orchid (Cyrtostylis robusta) in flower, underneath an overhanging bush in the quite bushy area just above the steps from the gazebo. Not that we walked the steps, we came from the other direction 🙂 Mosquito orchids flower June to August in a range from Perth to Israelite Bay.
Narrow petals and sepals
Full length plant shot
Broad, elongated labellum
Back towards where the boardwalk steps down I find the wonderful little Eastern granite snail orchid (Pterostylis voigtii) which only occurs between Esperance and Israelite Bay in the months July to early September. These are the smallest of the snail orchids in WA, reaching a height of only 50mm.
Other snail orchids and mosquito orchids found. We did not find the Shell orchids from the previous year though 😦
After another wonderful brunch at the Esperance Bird and Animal Park we make our way to Helms Arboretum (Mud Map SE35 ) to see if anything has flowered since we last visited a fortnight ago.
First stop was just off the highway where we decided to jump out and check closer, even though we could see nothing from looking out the Triton windows. Deb found the first orchids of the day. The Hairy-stemmed snail orchids (Pterostylis sp. ‘inland’) were in hoods, spread over the entire area. Also found close-by were some Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata).
Erect, narrow-ended lateral sepals
Watch out behind you!!
Elongated, slightly cupped lateral sepals
Variable height, 50 to 150mm
Snail and greenhood meet
Small hood of snails
Further into the arboretum we find our first spider orchids of the season. Only two individual plants were found flowering and both are the Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora). These flower August to October in a range from Bremer Bay to Cape Arid.
White, red-tipped labellum
4 or more rows of pale to deep red calli
Single, erect, hairy leaf 90 – 120mm long. Small friend nearby
Long lateral sepals on this one
Other snail orchids are found which appear to be a different species, as they lack the hairy stem. Checking with my esteemed colleague Margaret P. it appears to be an unnamed species currently termed Pterostylis sp. ‘Helms Arboretum’
Rosette 10-15mm across, 2 stem leaves
Short, thickened lateral sepals
Beautifully formed snail orchid
I also found a new patch of what appears to be Western tiny blue orchids (Cyanicula aperta) getting ready to bloom.
Last orchid found for the day was a nice specimen of a Dark banded greenhood (Pterostylis sanguinea)