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)

31/10/2021 ….. Spring Sunday of sun orchids

Western Australian Orchids, Esperance, Helms Arboretum

Getting towards the end of the orchid season in the Esperance district, so we decide to go check out the reliable Helms Arboretum (Mud Map SE 35). Prior to this though we have our usual cooked breakfast at the Esperance Bird and Animal Park.

Moving onto the arboretum we first stop along side Plot 23(E) and find some blue sun orchids. Now the tricky bit is naming them as 4 different species flower in the Esperance district. I’m leaning toward the Shy sun orchid (Thelymitra graminea), which grows in woodlands and forests between Perth and Esperance during the months of October and November. They grow up to 350mm in height and have up to 8 flowers in their inflorescences. The colour ranges from dark blue to purple or mauve.

We now move down to the arboretum proper where we hope to find some Leopard orchids in flower. Driving along Boundary X we first come across bee orchids before Deb spies a Leopard orchid (Thelymitra benthamiana) which grows in seasonally moist flats between Northampton and Israelite Bay during the spring months of September through November. Further plants were found flowering along Boundary Z.

The bee orchids also took our attention and we grabbed some photos. From their markings they appear to be the Elegant donkey orchid (Diuris concinna) which grows in moist sites amongst low shrubs between Cape Arid and Fitzgerald River National Park. So a local orchid, which flowers from September to early December.

Moving along we drive down between Plots 85 & 86 as some mignonette orchids were visible from Brockman Road. The Common mignonette orchids (Microtis media subsp. media) grow in scrublands, woodlands and forests between Shark Bay and Eyre. Flowering occurs from September to January with plants growing up to 600mm in height.

We now explore further and locate more of the same, however the sun orchids are larger, with longer inflorescences and more varied in their colour. So I believe they are the Scented sun orchids (Thelymitra macrophylla) which grow in forests and open wandoo woodlands between Perth and Albany, however Florabase shows the Esperance Shire as being a location for this orchid. They flower from August to October and can reach a height of 1000mm with more than 15 flowers per orchid.

It has been a beautiful sunny spring Sunday, so getting out and exploring for orchids was a wonderful way to fill up the morning. However, as Deb starts her shift at 2pm it is time to head home and grab some lunch. Five species found today, with the sun orchids stealing the show, with 2 species from the Blue sun orchid complex and the Leopard orchid, the sole member from the Sienna sun orchid complex. Only 1 month left of spring so we may get to explore for orchids this season, only time will tell.

The orchid below I have not named as the flowers are small, refer blowfly for size comparison, and the stems are reddish coloured and quite thick. Leaves have all been eaten off so no help from them. If anyone can assist with the ID that would be appreciated.

10/10/2021 ….. Yealering to Newdegate

Malyalling NR, Nature Reserves, Weekend away, Western Australian Orchids

So, we awake in Yealering on the Sunday after enjoying the Regatta on the lake the previous day. We are in the local caravan park with friends Sandy, Noel and Richard. After breakfast we all pack up our respective campers and make our separate way home. For us this will be an excuse to go orchid hunting. Fancy that!!!

I do not have a record in my little black book, and I am writing this record more than 12mths after the fact, so my memory fails me. So, this record will record locations and finds only, with no commentary, which some may find refreshing.


Green spider orchid

(Caladenia falcata)

200 – 400mm in height

Flowers – Late Aug to Oct

Location – Wongan Hills to Jerramungup

Granite sun orchid

(Thelymitra petrophila)

100 – 350mm in height

Flowers – Aug to Nov

Location – Mullewa to South Australia

Small flowered donkey orchid

(Diuris porrifolia)

150 – 350mm in height

Flowers – Late July – Sept

Location – Moora to Albany

Elbow orchid

(Spiculaea ciliata)

100-180mm in height

Flowers – Oct to Jan

Location – Kalbarri to Grasspatch

EIGHTY SIX GATE ROAD – UNNAMED NATURE RESERVE

Little laughing leek orchid

(Prasophyllum gracile)

60 – 200mm in height

Flowers – Jul to Oct

Location – Shark Bay to Eyre

Granite sun orchid

(Thelymitra petrophila)

Leaf – Narrow, 4-6mm in width

Colour – Blue, purple or pink

Cowslip orchid

(Caladenia flava subsp. flava)

100 – 250mm in height

Flowers – Jul to early Dec

Location – Geraldton to Israelite Bay

Green spider orchid

(Caladenia falcata)

Another common name – Fringed mantis orchid

Leaf – Single, erect, hairy leaf 100-200mm in length

Elbow orchid

(Spiculatea ciliata)

Habitat – In the north sandy soils over sandstone, In the south soil pockets on granite

Leaf – Fleshy, green and red infused leaf, which is shriveled at time of flowering

Blue china orchid

(Cyanicula gemmata)

40 – 150mm in height

Flowers – Aug to early Nov

Location – Kalbarri and Israelite Bay

Harrismith / Dudinin area

Granite sun orchid

(Thelymitra petrophila)

Neendaling

Green spider orchid

(Caladenia falcata)

Shy sun orchid

(Thelymitra graminea)

150 – 350mm in height

Flowers – Oct to Nov

Location – Perth to Esperance

Little laughing leek orchid

(Prasophyllum gracile)

Common mignonette orchid

(Microtis media subsp. media)

Newdegate

Small mantis orchid

(Caladenia attingens subsp. gracillima)

170 – 350mm in height

Flowers – Aug to early Oct

Location – Jerramungup to Israelite Bay

Little laughing leek orchid

(Prasophyllum gracile)

You can tell we are moving into the last few months of the Western Australian orchid season as we only located 9 species over multiple inland locations. The Southwest corner has a much longer season than both the inland and Southeastern areas.

30/09/2021 ….. RDO romp out East

Beaumont NR, Day Trip, Nature Reserves, Western Australian Orchids

Well, what else do you do on a RDO in spring but go Orchid Hunting. Today we head out east of Esperance in the hope of finding some different species to those found around the lakes and at Helms Arboretum last weekend.

First up we head past Condingup and head north up Parmango Road. At our usual location we slowly drive in, hanging out the windows looking for orchids, then park up and head further in on foot.

At the clearing where we park up, we are surprised to find the beautiful Custard orchid (Thelymitra villosa). This striking orchid flowers during the spring months, over a large range from Northampton to Israelite Bay. It is known to have up to 20 flowers per plant.

Located very close by is the glistening Purple enamel orchid (Elythranthera brunonis). This sun loving orchid flowers from August to early November over a similar range, Kalbarri to Israelite Bay.

Time to head off on foot as you do find more orchids this way. Backtracking toward Parmango Road first though as Deb spied a bird orchid on the drive in. Only one specimen found and appears to be the Bearded bird orchid (Pterostylis turfosa) as the species named Esperance bird orchid was included as an eastern variety of P. turfosa.

Also found here was a smaller yellow orchid. The Bee orchid (Diuris laxiflora) also flowers during the spring months, though only flowers as far northwest as Gingin from Esperance.

Finally, we head west along the track. A single, solitary Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora) is found. No others were found along this track today. The prominently clubbed sepals allowed me to ID it, as the similarly located and similarly featured Heberle’s spider orchid causes no end of confusion, when trying to ID these king type spider orchids.

Another small yellow orchid catches our eye. The tiny Twisted sun orchid (Thelymitra flexuosa), is so named due to a distinctive zig-zagged flower stem. The flowers themselves are listed as being 12 – 15mm across which is smaller than a 5c piece. We have only found this species a couple times before, so this is an exciting find.

Amazingly the next orchid is also yellow in colour. The more common Lemon-scented sun orchid (Thelymitra antennifera) which is so named due to the antennae like structures to the column. These orchids flower as far north as Shark Bay from Israelite Bay to our east.

Finally, an orchid that is not yellow in colour. The striking Common mignonette orchid (Microtis media subsp.media) can stand up to 600mm in height and can have up to 100 yellowish-green flowers per plant. Each flower is miniscule being only 2-3mm across.

The surprise find for the day was a solitary hammer orchid, which is well and truly fertilised and slowly shriveling up. The only recorded hammer orchid in the Shire of Esperance is the King-in-his-carriage (Drakaea glyptodon). The distinctly pouched labellum is not apparent, though it may have just shrivelled away.

Another single specimen found. Hiding in a bush the Shy sun orchid (Thelymitra graminea) is living up to its common name. There are four visually similar blue sun orchids flowering in the Esperance district so my identification may be incorrect, so please feel free to enlighten me.

Next up is an orchid that apparently smells bad. As they are so small and close to the ground, I have never put that to the sniff. The White fairy orchid (Caladenia marginata) is an orchid that is stimulated by fire and is usually found around granite outcrops. That is the case for our nearby Cape Le Grand rock location, however no visible granite at this location.

Another sun orchid is found in the old damp gravel pit area, however due to the deep cleft in the mid-lobe of the column I believe it to be the Slender sun orchid (Thelymitra vulgaris). They are one of the weird self-pollinating orchids, as are the Twisted sun orchids.

Next up is a mutated orchid I believe. It appears to be a Lemon-scented sun orchid however it does not have a normal looking column. I would love to have your thoughts on this unusual specimen.

Another amazing orchid is found poking up through the undergrowth. Rattle beaks (Lyperanthus serratus) in its dull green and maroon colourings is a beautiful orchid. They may have up to 10 flowers per plant and can reach heights of 500mm. They have a distinctive leaf which we regularly find prior to the flowering season but feel blessed when we find one flowering.

In the gravelly or rocky wet area, we were staggered to find the Pointing spider orchid (Caladenia exstans). We had previously found this orchid at Thomas River and Dempster Head which are in listed habitat of near coastal granite. We are around 25kms from the coast with no apparent granite so did not expect to find these orchids here. Actually, we have also found them at Boyatup which is a similar distance inland but also has granite everywhere.

Further orchids were found but not great photos taken so will record them here and put up the best photo I have of them. Zebra orchid (Caladenia cairnsiana) in a nice bright red form. Dancing spider orchid (Caladenia discoidea) in washed out colours plus the Laughing leek orchid (Prasophyllum macrostachyum) with its beautiful red lined sepals and petals.

Well, this track walked along proved a great spot with many species found. We can’t linger at one place too long so back to the Triton we trudge and onward to our next location.

We pull into Beaumont Nature Reserve which is little further north along Parmango Road. Here we again make our way on foot as the track is too tight and will scratch the crap out of the Triton. It is not long before we find our first orchid. Interestingly it is another Rattle Beaks, closely followed by more Zebra orchids and Bee orchids

Walking further along the track we find other previously found orchids. This time another Purple enamel orchid appears shining in some brief sunlight, further Common mignonette orchids stand tall and yellow Lemon-scented sun orchids are visible against the drying foliage.

Next up the blue sun orchids start to appear in numbers. From the thin leaf I believe they are further Shy sun orchids and another Slender sun orchid is found, with its deeply clefted column mid lobe. Maybe we will find something new here the further we venture in.

And guess what? We did find something new for the day. From what I can tell this spider orchid appears to be a Hybrid but could also just be a pale coloured Esperance king spider. What are your thoughts?

Another yellow orchid is found, and it is amazing it has taken this long to find the very widespread common Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava). These orchids vary greatly in the brightness of their yellow and the patterns of their markings.

The next orchid found is confusing as the location would lead the ID to be the Short sepaled spider orchid (Caladenia brevisura), however a lack of clubbing to the lateral sepals seems to indicate the Ant orchid (C. roei) may be the correct ID, but these orchids only go as far East as Ravensthorpe. However, my iNaturalist record has confirmed the first choice.

A new colour for the day appears in the undergrowth. The Pink candy orchid (Caladenia hirta subsp. rosea) is an unexpected find. They are however listed as occurring as far east as Israelite Bay, so should not be a surprise. The pink colouration is varied from very pale pink, almost white to vivid pink.

Talking about a splash of yellow. We have finally reached the granite area with a stream running through it and there is a good number of orchids flowering here. A standout is a great clump of the Elegant donkey orchid (Diuris concinna) which is bright yellow with some small brown markings. This is the best bunch I’ve ever seen.

Flowering nearby was the closely related Common bee orchid (Diuris decrementa) which is known to grow on shallow soil on granite outcrops. They were found in large numbers the more we ventured.

As pictured above with the bee orchids was the small Swamp mignonette orchid (Microtis atrata) which as the name suggests are found in seasonally wet flats and run-off areas around granite outcrops. They are only 40 to 80mm in height.

Other orchids were found growing on the shallow soil surrounding the granite, including Rabbit orchids (Leptoceras menziesii) and Lemon-scented sun orchids. Rabbit orchids have ear-like petals that provide the common name and very forward projecting lateral sepals.

Plus of course granite loving orchids are also found. The Granite sun orchid (Thelymitra petrophila) is an inland occurring orchid that flowers from August to November, however, the Coastal sun orchid (Thelymitra granitora) is also recorded as being found on inland granite outcrops northeast of Esperance and flowers during August and September. I think we have found both as the Coastal sun orchid is said to have a fleshy flower stem and the photos do seem to show one with a thicker stem.

Other orchids found in the woodlands and on the granite were more Common mignonette orchids and Shy sun orchids.

The most exciting find at this location was the hybrid of the Lemon-scented sun orchid and one of the blue sun orchids. This hybrid is a wonderful pinkish tone with bright yellow antennae. (Thelymitra x)

What a great location this has turned out to be, however, we decide to move on. Next stop is Condingup Hill. (Mud Map SE39) We had barely turned off Fisheries Road when the first orchids are seen. The common Purple enamel orchid comes in first place for this location, closely followed by the small Twisted sun orchid.

Next up a king type spider orchid is found. However, I have no idea if it is an Esperance king, Heberle’s or a hybrid. Both the aforementioned species have spreading petals/sepals and with this specimen they are hanging. They appear to be clubbed and particularly thin when compared to the large labellum. Ideas on ID welcome.

Higher up the track at the swampy flat area we find some more Swamp mignonette orchids and a Lemon-scented sun orchid.

At the corner, underneath a bush we are happy to find the Bearded bird orchid in flower. Actually, there is more than one in flower which is great.

We choose not the check out the lookout or Telstra tower area, so we drive back down and look along Fisheries Road just before the Condingup townsite sign. As expected, we locate some Esperance white spider orchids (Caladenia longicauda subsp. crassa) growing in the swampy ground.

The only other orchids found flowering here were some Purple enamel orchids. So, we grab some quick snaps then jump back into the Triton and head west.

We turn into Ridgelands Road and head north. Stopping at a patch of non-farmland we venture down into what appears to be an area leading to a swamp/lake. The ground is covered in dry leaf litter but growing here and there are some tall sun orchids. Most likely Shy sun orchids again due to location and thickness of the leaf.

Moving to the other side of the road, it is apparent the vegetation is different and straight away we find some Esperance white spider orchids.

Another, Caladenia species found which occurs between Ravensthorpe and Israelite Bay is the Short sepaled spider orchid. This small spider orchid is distinguished by its south easterly location and short sepal tips which are clubbed. At least these ones have clubs unlike the one found earlier today. There colouring varies considerably from dark red to light green.

Other orchids found include the ever-reliable Cowslip orchid, more Purple enamel orchids, a patch of Elegant donkey orchids and the Common mignonette orchid.

After 4pm, so time to make tracks home. At least 27 orchid species found with a hybrid or 2 thrown in. One last picture to post of a herd of Zebras coz I like it. No other reason!!

26/09/2021 ….. Hunting @ Helms

Day Trip, Esperance, Helms Arboretum, Western Australian Orchids

Well, after yesterday spending some time looking for orchids near our coastal lakes, it was inevitable that we would venture out to Helm’s Arboretum (Helm’s Forestry Reserve) to check out what is still flowering in this amazing location. (Mud Map SE35)

We do not have to venture far before we stumble across some orchid beauty. In the section near the entrance, we find the following orchids:

Common bee orchid (Diuris decrementa)

Common bee orchid (Diuris decrementa)

Common bee orchid (Diuris decrementa)
Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora)

Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora)

Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora)
Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava)

Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp.flava)

Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava)
Common mignonette orchid (Microtis media)

Common mignonette orchid (Microtis media)

Common mignonette orchid (Microtis media)
Shy sun orchid (Thelymitra graminea)

Shy sun orchid (Thelymitra graminea)

Shy sun orchid (Thelymitra graminea)

Time is a moving and so must we, so onwards into the Arboretum we go. At the first road to the right, we turn off and slowly drive along looking out the windows. As soon as we spy something new, we pull over for a closer inspection. Along this track we find the following different orchids:

Little pink fairies (caladenia reptans subsp. reptans

Little pink fairies (Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans)

Little pink fairies (caladenia reptans subsp. reptans
Un-named hybrid orchid (Caladenia flava x C. reptans)

Un-named Hybrid orchid (Caladenia flava x C. reptans)

Un-named hybrid orchid (Caladenia flava x C. reptans)
Pink fairies (caladenia latifolia)

Pink fairies (Caladenia latifolia)

Pink fairies (caladenia latifolia)
Lemon-scented sun orchid (Thelymitra antennifera)

Lemon-scented sun orchid (Thelymitra antennifera)

Lemon-scented sun orchid (Thelymitra antennifera)

Moving further into the Arboretum we stop at a specific spot to find the Rattle beaks and we are not disappointed. Other orchids our found across the track from the Rattle beaks.

Rattle beaks (Lyperanthus serratus)

Rattle beaks (Lyperanthus serratus)

Rattle beaks (Lyperanthus serratus)
Small mantis orchid (Caladenia attingens subsp. gracillima)

Small mantis orchid (Caladenia attingens subsp. gracillima)

Small mantis orchid (Caladenia attingens subsp. gracillima)
Purple enamel orchid (Elythranthera brunonis)

Purple enamel orchid (Elythranthera brunonis)

Purple enamel orchid (Elythranthera brunonis)
Heberle’s spider orchid (Caladenia heberleana)

Heberle’s spider orchid (Caladenia heberleana)

Heberle’s spider orchid (Caladenia heberleana)

Now to check out some further areas of this large reserve. We come across some more varied spider and sun orchids which may be different species, hybrids or just colour variants. Other orchids new for the day were also found and I will list these first.

Red beaks (Pyrorchis nigricans)

Red beaks (Pyrorchis nigricans)

Red beaks (Pyrorchis nigricans)
Zebra orchid (Caladenia cairnsiana)

Zebra orchid (Caladenia cairnsiana)

Zebra orchid (Caladenia cairnsiana)
Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians)

Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians)

Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians)
Esperance white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. crassa)

Esperance white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. crassa)

Esperance white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. crassa)

Now for pics of the varied spider and sun orchids found.

Helms Arboretum rarely disappoints.

25/09/2021 ….. Kepwari Walk Trail

Esperance, Nature Reserves, Western Australian Orchids, Woody Lake NR

After a weekend off to recover from our road trip we had to get out to see what was still flowering around Esperance. Today we decided to check out the Kepwari Walk Trail which meanders between Woody and Wheatfield Lakes.

First orchid found is the locally abundant Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora), which comes in many shades of red, yellow and green. Size is also a variant; in that they can range from 250mm to 500mm in height and the flowers can be between 50 to 100mm across.

Then you come across spider orchids that don’t seem to fit the usual image of the Esperance king spider orchid however they are beautiful in their own right. I feel one is a hybrid between the Esperance king and Esperance white spider orchids, but this would need someone to clarify for me. Others maybe just unusual specimens.

Other spider orchids found include the Esperance white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. crassa) and the Pointing spider orchid (Caladenia exstans) which are also locally occurring species.

Final couple of orchids found are both yellow in colour but belong to completely different genera. First up is the common Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) which is found between Israelite Bay and Geraldton. The Elegant donkey orchid (Diuris concinna) on the other hand is restricted more locally between Cape Arid to Fitgerald River National Park.

At least 5 species found during a pleasant walk. Not too bad a way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Flooded dead trees on lake shore

12/09/2021 ….. Jerramungup to Munglinup

East Naernup NR, Koornong NR, Nature Reserves, Numerous days, Road Trip, Western Australian Orchids

After an early breakfast we head out to our first location to continue our orchid hunt. Some of the first orchids found are still covered in dew, which exposes the cobwebs as well.

JERRAMUNGUP CEMETERY

Well, I glad we persevered at this location given we found nothing in the first 5 minutes. The hybrid found was our first with a Dragon orchid and the numbers of white spiders was amazing.

However, we must keep moving but we only make it some way up the SouthCoast Highway before pulling into Jacup Highway Park, a rest stop near to the Fitzgerald River crossing. Seems a bit overrun with weeds, but we make the effort and are rewarded big time.

JACUP HIGHWAY PARK

After some amazing finds, we jump back into the Triton and head east. We decide to check out another new location and pull over at Koornong Nature Reserve. Some of our finds may be outside the Nature Reserve boundary as the scrubland extends further along the roadside than we were originally aware of.

Koornong Nature Reserve

Four species found, so not too bad a spot. Worthy of a re-visit another time. Next stop is further along the highway. Here we pull into an old bitumen dump and venture into the surrounding scrub. Orchids found 🙂

East Naernup Nature Reserve

It is now way past lunch time, so we head to Munglinup Roadhouse for their amazing burger. Near the roadhouse I find a nice spider orchid and take a photo, which ends up being the last taken for the day.

Our 2021 orchid hunting road trip has come to an end as we head home from Munglinup. As usual it has been amazing to find so many beautiful orchids in the wonderful West Australian bush and woodlands. Many old favourites found as well as some new species, which is always very exciting. Quite a few hybrids found this time as well as a few lutea or polychromic variants.

11/09/2021 ….. Chirelillup Nature Reserve to Jerramungup

Chirelillup NR, Nature Reserves, Numerous days, Road Trip, Toompup NR, Warperup East NR, Western Australian Orchids

After a cool night, instead of packing up camp straight after breakfast, we go exploring the reserve, whilst the camper dries out. I had seen lots of orchids on my quick scout yesterday and now looked forward to having the time to explore with Debbie.

CHIRELILLUP NATURE RESERVE

As per last night the very first orchid found is the Green spider orchid (Caladenia falcata). Also commonly known as the Fringed Mantis orchid.

Then we stumble across a newly named orchid. The Little frog greenhood (Pterostylis occulta) was named in 2021 from specimens collected in 2005, west of Brookton. It is distinguished from P. sargentii by the shape and hairiness of the horn-like structures of the labellum.

Then an old favourite appears just asking us to take a photo. The Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) comes in varied shades of yellow. Then the reddish markings can be bold or pale and be dots or lines and everything in between.

Another yellow orchid is then spotted. Donkey orchids are another orchid that can be difficult to identify, as they are all so similar in appearance and overlap in their recorded locations. For this reason I will not attempt to name the ones found here.

Well I find donkey orchids hard to identify, now I need to try and identify spider orchids from the filamentosa complex. I believe some to be the Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians) whilst others may be the Joseph’s spider orchid (Caladenia polychroma) as both are recorded as being located in the Shire of Gnowangerup, and the features seem to match the reference books

An exciting find was the Purple-veined spider orchid (Caladenia doutchiae) which is found between Mullewa and Raventhorpe. The long tapers to the sepals distinguish it from other related orchids.

A common inland orchid is the Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata) however only a few were found at this location. Also found was the ever reliable Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva), again not in great numbers though.

We ran into some fellow orchid enthusiasts, Martina & Rick, who amazingly follow this blog via Facebook. They shared with us an app on their phone they use to record locations of interest. It also has the ability to overlay geology maps, that show different geology types, which they feel assists them in locating different orchid habitats. I have installed the Australian geology travel maps app and now regularly use it on our excursions.

The camper has now dried out sufficiently so we pack up camp and head off. We detour into Gnowangerup before heading east again. This time we venture into a new location which is not too great a detour off the main track. However we did have to take the Triton and camper through a bit of water to get back to the main Gnowangerup-Jerramungup Road. The water was in the middle of farmland, not the Nature Reserve though.

TOOMPUP NATURE RESERVE

Being a new location, we are excited to see what is found in Toompup Nature Reserve. We pull into an off road parking spot and immediately find some Green spider orchid (Caladenia falcata) which is also referred to as Western mantis orchid. The highly upturned lateral sepals are one of its distinguishing features.

Some small frog greenhoods are located next, however the photos we took are not clear enough to discern the species conclusively. I though, will name them the Little frog greenhood (Pterostylis occulta) due to the sharp of the horn-like structures on the labellum. Please correct me if you think I have erred in this ID.

Some yellow catches our eye. The faithful Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) is found. They certainly brighten up the dull West Australian bush.

Vying for having the most yellow in the bush are the donkey orchids, which are also found en masse. To make life difficult three species are recorded as being found in the Shire of Gnowangerup. I will take a guess that some are the Western wheatbelt donkey orchid (Diuris brachyscapa) and some other ones are the Small flowered donkey orchid (Diuris porrifolia). Florabase mentions D. brachyscapa whilst Atlas of Living Australia lists D. brachyscapa and D. porrifolia as being found in this Nature Reserve.

Well we did find some orchids as a single specimen. A flowering Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) and Dancing spider orchid (Caladenia discoidea) , a budding Purple enamel orchid (Elythranthera brunonis) and a spent Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata) were some such finds. Red beaks (Pyrorchis nigricans) and Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata) were found in low numbers.

OK so we find so many different coloured spider orchids from the filamentosa complex that being certain of their identification is proving difficult.

So, I believe most to be the Joseph’s spider orchid (Caladenia polychroma) as they are a common orchid that occurs in variable colours of white, cream, yellow, red and pink. However, the Chameleon spider orchid (Caladenia dimidia) is also a possibility given it occurs in various colours, though it is not currently recorded as occurring in the Gnowangerup LGA.

Some spiders I cannot name are shown opposite. Either the calli are not broad, the colouring seems different, or the size of the flower and labellum don’t fit in with the Joseph’s species. Any help with an ID would be appreciated.

Then to add to the confusion with identification, some hybrids are found together with a lutea or hypochromic specimen.

Parents could be the Purple-veined spider orchid and either Joseph’s or Chameleon spider orchids as both are recorded hybrids.

The lutea or hypochromic specimen appears to be a Joseph’s spider orchid due to the broad calli on the labellum.

Also found were some larger white spider orchids. Now 2 sub-species of C. longicauda are recorded as being found nearby to this location. However, I believe the one I located to be the Stark white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. eminens) due to the broad labellum with long fringe segments.

As with the smaller spider orchids, we also came across a couple that did not appear usual. They could just be variants, given the C. longicauda has 4 or more rows of calli. However, the colouring is not stark white either so if you can help with ID, again that would be appreciated.

Finally, time to move on towards Ongerup where we plan to grab a cuppa at the Malleefowl Centre. We came across some water covering the road, so I jumped out and walked through to test the depth. All good, so Deb pushes through and we arrive at the Yongergnow Malleefowl Centre.

Water covers Cleveland Road, so I jumped out and walked through to test the depth. All good, so Deb pushes through in the mighty Triton.

After another amazing cuppa and icecream we make tracks east towards Jerramungup. However along the Gnowangerup-Jerramungup Road we pull over at a patch of green on the map. It turns out to be Warperup East Nature Reserve. So we jump out the Triton and go exploring this new location.

WARPERUP EAST NATURE RESERVE

First up we find the Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata), which has now been found at all 3 locations visited so far today.

Next up find some orchids of the Pterostylis genus. Most are way past their best, but I took photos just to record they are found at this location. Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva), Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) and Hairy-stemmed snail orchid (Pterostylis setulosa). These orchids all start flowering much earlier in the season.

Other green orchids are found but these belong to the Caladenia genus. First up we find the Small mantis orchid (Caladenia attingens subsp. gracillima), however later on larger flowers are found with longer fringe segments. These could be the Green spider orchid (Caladenia falcata) which occurs as far east as Jerramungup according to my references. The Small mantis orchid is stated as being located as far west as Jerramungup and as we are only 22kms west of Jerramungup both of these species could very well be located here.

Excitedly, we find a new species for the day. The Western tiny blue orchid (Cyanicula aperta) as the name suggests is only 50 – 150mm in height with flowers only 20 – 25mm across. For comparison the Stark white spider orchid is 300 – 600mm in height with flowers 80 -120mm across.

After blue comes the yellow. The reliable Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) is the next orchid to be spotted.

Another yellow orchid is also found. The Western wheatbelt donkey orchid (Diuris brachyscapa) is a common orchid found between York, Tenterden and Ravensthorpe. The lateral sepals are said to be crossed hanging, often reflexed, which my pictures confirm.

A special find for this location was the hybrid orchids found. Three in total were found and I believe they are all the named hybrid, Wheatbelt spider orchid (Caladenia x cala). This is a cross between a White spider orchid (C. longicauda) and a Green spider orchid (C. falcata). Hybrids of C. attingens X C. longicauda are also recorded though un-named.

We then move a little further east before pulling up at the location of Needilup. A quick exploration around then takes place with some familiar orchids being found.

NEEDILUP

Well, we only pull over on the side of the road and explore a few meters in. First orchid to catch our eyes was the donkey orchid. Then a lone 2 headed Jug orchid is found, plus lots of Green spider orchids. I feel these ones are definitely Green spiders and not Small mantises due to the size of the labellum.

No more stops before we reach our final destination for the day. Jerramungup is a welcome sight after a long day orchid hunting. We check into the Jerramungup Motor Hotel and enjoy a good pub feed and a comfortable bed. At least 17 different species found with a few hybrids thrown in. A very pleasing day !!!!