Introduction

Western Australian orchids

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)

20/09/2020 ….. Boydell Road Bounty

Esperance, Western Australian orchids

Very windy day with some rain. Feeling a bit unwell today, so spent the morning inside. Deb went off to her work at 2pm and I fell asleep in the Lazyboy. Was woken by some really strong winds. Decided then that I can’t waste the whole day, so went out to check on the location shared by Dana S to my post of the 19/7/2020 on my Facebook Page.

Pulling up alongside the road I venture on the south side and it is not long before I stumble across some bee orchids. Over the entire location I came across many bee orchids and they appear to be two of the locally recorded species. Smaller ones with only 2 or so basal leaves seem to be the Common bee orchid (Diuris decrementa) whilst the larger ones may be the Bee orchid (Diuris laxiflora).

Found many Lemon-scented sun orchids (Thelymitra antennifera) however no decent photos obtained as they were hardly open due to the cloudy day and the wind just defeated my attempts. The best are posted for recording purposes.

The Small mantis orchid (Caladenia attingens subsp. gracillima) starts to appear all over the location. The profile photos are great in showing how up-swept the lateral sepals are plus how the tip of the labellum tucks under.

An unexpected find was a Red beak (Pyrorchis nigricans) in flower. No recent fires here so a pleasant surprise find. Also some Cowslip orchids (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) found south and north of the road.

Then near a drainage ditch on the north side of the road I find a selection of orchids in one small location. The most obvious was the Purple enamel orchid (Elythranthera brunonis) as there were 8 flowers in view. As I moved towards them I noticed a small Zebra orchid (Caladenia cairnsiana) and whilst on my knees getting a shot I noticed the Short-sepaled spider orchids (Caladenia brevisura) hiding behind the enamel orchids.

With the light fading, wind still blowing and now being past 5pm I make tracks back home, happy in the knowledge that this new location had turned up 8 and possibly 9 orchid species.

13/09/2020 ….. Ravensthorpe Wildflower Show

Cocanarup Timber Reserve, Weekend away, Western Australian orchids

After spending a wonderful weekend with good friends, Warren and Tammy in Hopetoun, we venture north to Ravensthorpe as they are having their annual Wildflower Show, which we have not been to in the 20 years we have lived in Esperance.

The display of wildflowers in the shire hall was amazing so we took a few pics of the orchids they had on display. We then sat down for a cuppa, with scones, jam and cream before making our way to the local lolly shop, Yummylicious Candy Shack for an icecream. No ginger this time though 😦 so I chose macadamia then also purchased a small bag of mixed lollies. It is here we say goodbye to our friends as they head home to Esperance, as we have orchids to find.

So where do we go first, given we are already 185km east of home. You guessed it, another 15kms east to Kukenarup Memorial. As the picnic shelter is already occupied we head straight for the walk trail and immediately find some Lemon-scented sun orchids (Thelymitra antennifera) in bloom. These are by far the most widespread of the yellow sun orchids, as they occur on a line from Shark Bay to Israelite Bay and everywhere south of that line. The dark column lobes are a distinctive feature which also alludes to the Latin name: antennae, to bear .

Very close by another bright orchid of a different colour catches our eye. The Purple enamel orchid (Elythranthera brunonis) glistens in the bright sunshine.

Deb discovers a blue orchid and initially thought it would be a Blue beard however on closer inspection it was an orchid not found at this location before, which is exciting. It is a Blue china orchid (Cyanicula gemmata) which is quite widespread, ranging from Israelite Bay to Kalbarri.

I had just finished saying to Deb how it would be nice to find the Dragon orchids that were at the Wildflower Show, when what do we spy but a Common dragon orchid (Caladenia barbarossa) swaying in the breeze.

Right next door to the lone Dragon orchid we also find a lone Small mantis orchid (Caladenia attingens susp. gracillima) which is smaller than the related Fringed mantis orchid, which can also be found around Ravensthorpe. The labellum calli extend onto the red tip of the labellum, which is another distinguishing feature when comparing the two.

Making our way back to the walk track, as we have detoured a bit towards the Hwy, we come across another type of orchid. This little one appears to be the Short-sepaled spider orchid (Caladenia brevisura) due to the shortly clubbed later sepals and south-easterly location. The only other possibility is the Purple-veined spider orchid, which is pictured earlier at the wildflower Show, and the length of the sepals is definitely a distinctive feature of both types.

Towards the end of the walk trail we discover many more Lemon-scented sun orchids growing under the protection of bushes and also out on the granite growing in the Resurrection bushes.

Right at the end of the trail some Frog greenhoods (Pterostlyis sargentii) are found growing in the Resurrection bushes as well. These are a common inland greenhood growing between Northampton and Grasspatch.

We decide to go down south of the picnic shelter to see if we can locate the Red beaks we had found on previous years. Nothing at all found other than a small spent spider orchid on the edge of a track. We decide to walk along this track which heads west, toward the Phillips River. We are expanding this location as we have never ventured along this track before.

Interestingly, the first orchid found is the common Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava sp. flava) which is unusual in that no others have been found today. One flower, 3 images.

Further along the track are some more Dragon and Purple enamel orchids.

Then on the south side of the track we stumble across some scattered Red beaks (Pyrorchis nigricans) growing in the white sand. An unusual find, given the area does not appear to have been burnt recently.

Then hiding under a bush is the smallest Blue china orchid I had ever seen. Actually looking at the labellum it appears to be a Granite china orchid (Cyanicula nikulinskyae) as it is also much paler than the typical Blue china orchid which was found earlier today.

After walking this track for about 30mins it seemed to go on forever, so we turned north to make our way back to the picnic area. Pushing up a rise we find many more Small mantis orchids as well as many Jug orchids (Petrostylis recurva), however most were finished for the season, though we took a photo just as a record.

We have now returned close to the Hwy so head west towards the picnic area. Not much found until Deb excitedly comes across a beautiful leek orchid. I believe it to be the Frilled leek orchid (Prasophyllum sargentii) which grows in sandy soils from Kalbarri to Israelite Bay during August to October.

We make it back to the picnic shelter and right there in the shade of the taller shrubs is a patch of Common dragon orchids. Photos taken but no decent ones so will not post any, however the short video seems decent enough to post.

Needing food we head off east past Ravensthorpe and onto Munglinup Roadhouse to get another burger, as they were awesome last time. Much busier today so the wait will be longer, so Deb suggests I go exploring nearby for any orchids.

Great idea my wonderful wife had. I ventured over the road to the east and immediately spied yellow flowers that looked promising. The bright and beautiful Cowslips are flowering as are the Lemon-scented sun orchids. Also a red coloured Small mantis orchid and the usual greener ones are found together with some Purple enamel orchids.

To top off this location I found three different species of white spider orchids. First up is the Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians), followed by an Esperance white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda susp. crassa) then finally a small orchid I cannot Identify. Any help with this is appreciated.

Back to the roadhouse I go and we enjoy eating the awesome burgers before we head off to our next location. We plan to visit the spot on Boydell Road where we had seen possible hammer orchid leaves on a previous visit. I am driving and we go past the spot and travel some 20 kms before realising. We turn around and locate our marker and pull into a farmers gate leeway as we are only in the Ford, so no 4WD capability to park off the road.

Whilst we start our search on the north of the road the farmer comes to check on what we are up to. They check our car, drive up and down the road a bit then obviously decide we are not a threat and leave us be. Unfortunately the leaves we planned to check out had not produced any flowers and were dying off, however we did locate some other orchids. First up was a beautiful pair of Heberle’s spider orchid (Caladenia heberleana) which occur from Augusta to Cape Arid during September and October. The long clubbed sections of the sepals and having clubbed petals are distinguishing features. Other specimens are also found upon further searching.

Other orchids were found as well. Red beaks were found, which confirms rare individuals will flower without a need for a recent bushfire. Purple enamel orchids and Dancing spider orchids (Caladenia discoidea) round off the day. A funky name however, it is derived from the Latin discoideus alluding to the rounded shape of the labellum.

It is now just after 5pm so we had better make tracks for home. As we are closer to the Cascade Road intersection than we first thought we decide to take it back down to the hwy as it is a sealed road.

A great day orchid hunting, to finish off a great weekend. Ravensthorpe Wildflower Show provided us with the nudge to explore the area and we were rewarded with at least 16 different orchid species.

August 2020 Road Trip

Western Australian orchids

I would love to commence blogging about Our Annual Orchid Road Trip, which took place over 3 weeks in August, however it is due to that trip I am falling way behind in posting details of my other adventures. I have only just completed and posted the month of July and it is already October.

I plan to complete the smaller adventures of September and those yet to happen in October, if any, before I move onto our epic road trip. Should you follow my Instagram feed you will have already had a taste of the orchids found during 3 weeks of bliss. Link below should you wish to visit my Instagram page.

https://www.instagram.com/waorchidadventures/

Stay tuned for posts about the August 2020 Road Trip later this year.

29/07/2020 ….. Dempster Head and Myrup

Dempster Head, Esperance, Myrup, Western Australian orchids

On my planned RDO I revisit Dempster Head (Mud Map SE 34), this time in the company of my dearest Deb, who only has the morning free, due to her night shift roster. We head off in the direction of the helmet orchids and like my last visit the snail orchids are first orchids found. ID again up in the air.

Then Deb finally gets to see the little Crystal helmet orchids (Corybas limpidus) in flower at Dempster Head. We visit two of my three known locations and capture some more photos of theses small orchids.

Also found were Mosquito orchids (Cyrtostylis robusta) in various locations along the track. I used a nearby rock once to assist with focusing, as the overcast day made focusing on these small orchids rather difficult.

Deb then finds some shell orchids in flower… So Happy as it has been a few years since we last found them on Dempster Head. The Curled-tongue shell orchid (Pterostylis rogerii) is a southern coastal shell orchid found between Binningup and Esperance. The rosettes of unflowering orchids are commonly found with only a few orchids flowering usually located. Oddly enough flowering shell orchids lack that same rosette.

A small patch of yellow catches our eye and we are rewarded with finding the Spectacled donkey orchid (Diuris conspicillata) which is geographically restricted to coastal granite outcrops near Esperance. The dark markings on the labellum lateral lobes are said to give the orchid the impression it is wearing spectacles.

After nearly 2 hours searching for orchids it time to head home so Deb can have a rest before her shift starts at 2pm.

To get the most out of my RDO, after Deb heads off to work, I decide to go check out another location close to town. We refer to this spot as our Myrup location. Parking up just after 3pm I am shocked to find that someone had decided to dump a large amount of household rubbish in the bush, rather than pay at the Shire refuse site. Some people make you shake your head in their total disrespect for the environment. To add to this horror the Shire has also graded the road verges and widened the road so a lot of gravel and destroyed vegetation has just been pushed onto the vegetated verge.

It is right on the edge of this devastation that I come across some beautiful Esperance king spider orchids (Caladenia decora) flowering in various colours. Some may actually be hybrids with the Esperance white spider orchids or similar.

Across the road I come across many more in flower, with more still to come, given they are recorded as flowering from mid-August to October.

In the middle of these large bright king orchids I come across some small white spider orchids. The Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians) is a widespread orchid occurring between Kalbarri and Esperance. These little guys were definitely dwarfed by the large Esperance king spider orchids.

A successful RDO spent searching for orchids now comes to an end. Work tomorrow 😦

Orchids grow in amazing places

Dempster Head, Esperance, Western Australian orchids

Amazed to find these snail orchids (Pterostylis sp.) growing in the small amount of rubble on a granite boulder over 2 metres above the surrounding ground. The 1st photo below is of the boulder. The 2nd photo is zoomed in with Circle indicating position of orchids contained in video 1 and the Arrow indicates location of the 4 orchids in video 2. The 4 orchids are also the Feature Image of this post.

26/07/2020 ….. Boyatup Bound & Beyond

Cape Arid NP, Day Trip, National Parks, Western Australian orchids

Deb arrives home from her night shift and will spend a quiet day at home, however I am taking a friend, another Deb, out East to see what our favourite locations will produce in mid Winter.

Boyatup Hill (Mud Map SE 40) is our first destination for the day. As usual we stop along the track prior to reaching the gravel pit and immediately find some spider orchids in flower. They appear to be the Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians) due to the larger labellum and less pendulous petals and sepals.

Then to confuse matters a couple of what appears to be the Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila) are located. The thinner labellum and more pendulous sepals and petals alludes to this identification.

Next up a colourful Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora) is located growing near a mound of dirt pushed up in making the gravel pit. They are one of the largest spider orchids found in Western Australia.

Another regular found out this way is the Blue beard (Pheladenia deformis) which is also commonly known as the Blue fairy orchid. The genus Pheladenia is monotypic as it contains only the one species. They come in various shades of blue and purple plus there is a white variety, which is very rare to locate.

Around the edge of the gravel pit in a damp location more spider orchids are found, of varying types and colourings.

Then growing in patches of vegetation in the gravel pit itself, donkey orchids are found in flower. Due to the colouring of the orchids found I believe them to be Green Range donkey orchids (Diuris littoralis) as they are one of only a few Diuris orchids flowering this far east.

Moving up to the track leading from the gravel pit we find the bright and colourful Reaching spider orchid (Caladenia arrecta), which is the only clubbed spider orchid found this far east. Up-swept petals are also a distinctive feature.

Moving into the burnt area, from last summer’s bush fire, we come across a couple of donkey orchids and a Blue beard.

Further along the track just past the area we used to drive up to and turn around I find some small Mosquito orchids (Cyrtostylis robusta) growing alongside the track. The large dark labellum distinguishes this orchid as Mosquito and not the related Midge.

As we plan to visit a few more locations today we make tracks back to the Triton and along the way find some clumped Blue beards and a poor Esperance king spider orchid with all his tepals nipped off.

We now move onto Thomas River in the Cape Arid National Park. After a spot of lunch at the campgrounds we head to Len Otte Nature Trail and locate some Mosquito orchids growing under the shrubs on the granite incline, which is a first for me.

As we had found no other orchids by this part of the trail I decide to head back to the Triton and move on to another location, Alexander Bay. Snail orchids are found under shrubs growing on the coastal granite. Again I will not attempt to name these. One has very short lateral sepals however they may have been nipped off or are actually that short.

I contact Deb on the phone and she directs me to area where she had found the Esperance king spider orchids. This was great as I missed these on my last visit to this spot.

The afternoon is moving along quickly so time to head off for the last planned stop. At the top of Condingup Peak (Mud Map SE 39) I park the Triton then show Deb the granite lookout where snail orchids are usually found. However first up at the edge of the track I locate a Beautiful donkey orchid (Diuris pulchella) which is very distinctive due to its mauve colouring, which is unique this far East.

Also found along the track edge were some snail orchids. They appear to be Brittle snail orchids (Pterostylis timothyi) due to the fawn colouring of the flower and length of lateral sepals. They are also found growing on the granite lookout, however in much lower numbers than found in previous years.

Moving along the ridge of the Telstra installation a small white spider orchid is found. Appears to be a beautiful specimen of the Common spider orchid.

In the moss growing on the flat granite outcrops of the ridge many snail orchids are found. They are much shorter in stature, however still have longish lateral sepals and a rosette with pointed veiny leaves, so may still be Brittle snail orchids. I will leave the identification for now.

It’s 5pm so light is running out fast and taking photos is getting more difficult so we climb back up to the Triton and head back to Esperance. A great day out and about hunting down orchids and sharing the day with our friend Deb C.

25/07/2020 ….. Winter Afternoon Wander

Dempster Head, Esperance, Western Australian orchids

After Deb heads of to her Saturday night shift I decide to go check out Dempster Head Reserve and see if I can finally locate the helmet orchids others have mentioned growing there. We had previously found leaves which we were unsure if they were Corybas or Cyrtostylis orchids. It will be great to answer the mystery.

Parking up at the Rotary Lookout, I walk off in the direction of the port as that is where we have found the mysterious leaves. First up though I am distracted by the many snail orchids popping up in the usual, plus very unusual, locations. Unsure of the exact species however finding some growing on the top of a boulder was a unique find.

In the known patch of mysterious leaves I am lucky enough to find a couple in flower to answer the question of what species they belong to. The Crystal helmet orchid (Corybas limpidus) is confirmed as that species. These are found flowering from July till early-September over south coastal locations between Walpole and Esperance. The Latin name limpidus alludes to the transparent dorsal sepal and lateral sepals which form the helmet. Further around the trail I locate flowering corybas orchids in another two locations, so I am a very happy man.

Final orchid found for the afternoon was the Mosquito orchid (Cyrtostylis robusta) which was located right alongside the walking track. A widespread orchid found between Perth and Israelite Bay during the winter months.

Moving to the West Beach side of the reserve the orchids become few and far between and as it is now after 4:30pm I take an photo overlooking a pool of water with views in the background of West Beach. A calming shot to end an enjoyable few hours on a winters’ Saturday afternoon.

22/07/2020 ….. Deb’s Day Out with L&K

Cape Arid NP, Day Trip, National Parks, Western Australian orchids

Its back to work for me, however Deb decides to take Lorraine and Ken out further east for the day. The trip takes them out to Thomas River in the Cape Arid National Park. From here they travelled back west to Alexander Bay located at Howick in the Shire of Esperance.

Deb finds and takes photos of a few orchids at Alexander Bay just to rub it in that I was not there… LOL




<<<<<<< Brittle snail orchids (Pterostylis timothyi) with their distinctive veined pointed rosette leaves. Fawn colouring is also a feature.



Coastal snail orchid (Pteostylis sp. ‘coastal snail’) grow in consolidated sand dunes from Bremer Bay to Israelite Bay. >>>>>>





<<<<<<<< Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora) are found between Bremer Bay and Cape Arid during the period August to October.




Green Range donkey orchid (Diuris littoralis) are found from Denmark to Israelite Bay during the period July to September. >>>>>>




Looks like they had a great day with beautiful sunny skies. Soooo jealous.

20/07/2020 ….. R.D.O. Ramble to Ravensthorpe

Cocanarup Timber Reserve, Day Trip, Esperance, National Parks, Nature Reserves, Pink Lake, Springdale NR, Stokes NP, Western Australian orchids

I have taken an Rostered Day Off (RDO) today so I can spend some more time with my sister Lorraine and her hubby Ken. Yesterday we went north of the South Coast Hwy and detoured back east of Esperance. Today we are going west and staying within 50kms of the coast.

Our first point of call is along the edge of our famous Pink Lake. Here we discover some Mosquito orchids (Cyrtostylis robusta) growing in the dense undergrowth. These unusual orchids flower during the winter months over an area stretching from Perth to Israelite Bay.

Nothing more found other than Pterostylis rosettes, with some in bud, so we move onwards. Next stop is the Stokes National Park camping grounds. Actually we find orchids before the campground, just growing along the roadside. First up are some wispy type spider orchids. Due to the colouring of the flowers and the larger leaf width, I believe these orchids to be the Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians). As the name suggests it is a common orchid with a large distribution, Kalbarri to Cape Arid National Park. It also has a long season, flowering from July to mid-October.

Intermixed with the spider orchids were patches of yellow. Bright yellow South coast donkey orchids (Diuris sp. ‘south coast’) are found from Denmark to Munglinup during the winter months. They were first recognised as distinct in 1999 when collected near Munglinup, which is approximately 20kms to the west of our current location.

We finally make it to the campground and it was a let down with only a Dark Banded greenhood (Pterostylis sanguinea) in flower and a Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) finished for it’s season. We did however stop and have morning tea overlooking the Stokes Inlet.

We move on further west along the South Coast Hwy, before turning south down Springdale Road. We pullover to the side of the road at Springdale Nature Reserve for a quick check. Straight away we find the Reaching spider orchid (Caladenia arrecta) which blooms from late-July till mid-October between Bindoon and Esperance. Prominently clubbed petals and sepals ,plus the dark red labellum with dark red calli are distinctive features.

Also found were the South coast donkey orchids, with many more to come. However we must push on as it is now past lunch time and we still have Munglinup Beach campground to check out.

Well first up we drive down to the Oldfield River and park up on the granite rock bank, so we can have a quick scout around. Other than one South coast donkey orchid and many leaves in bud, nothing much was found so we quickly move on.

We now venture down to the Munglinup Beach campground (Mud Map SE 33) and I go looking for the elusive helmet orchid, whilst Deb takes Lorraine and Ken down to the beach. I come across loads of leaves and then find some sprouting flowers, however they are not fully open. By this time Deb has made her way into the Agonis flexuosa grove and we both simultaneously find fully open ones in different patches. They are confirmed as being the Crystal helmet orchid (Corybas limpidus) which flowers from July to early-September in coastal locations between Walpole and Esperance. We had to lie flat on the ground to get the photos as they are only 20mm in height.

Very happy to have found these beautiful small orchids flowering as they are listed for the Mud Map reference. Also found underneath the Agonis flexuosa trees are snail orchids. They appear to be the Coastal snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘coastal snail’) which is found between Bremer Bay and Israelite Bay during the months of July and August. Distinctive features are bloated appearance and small thickened lateral sepals.

Leaving Munglinup Beach we now drive west towards Hopetoun our planned lunch stop. On the way we check out both Starvation Bay and Masons Bay campgrounds. Choosing the bakery for lunch we walk down to the foreshore and finally fill our bellies.

We now head north to Ravensthorpe where we grabbed a ginger ice-cream from Yummylicious Candy Shack. Sooooo good!! After showing Lorraine and Ken the Grain Silo’s, we head west out to Kukenarup Memorial, one of our regular orchid haunts.

Just past the Eagle Wings to the left is a wonderful little Dancing spider orchid (Caladenia discoidea) which is found between Israelite Bay and Kalbarri flowering during August, September and October.