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.
1st stop – Walker Street Bushland – Gibson, where we check out the burnt-out scrub. Along the edge of the north/south track we locate some greenhoods. The bright green ones must be the Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) whilst the brownish coloured ones may either be the Dark banded greenhood (Pterostylis sanguinea) or the Mallee banded greenhood (Pterostylis arbuscula). All 3 species are recorded as being found this far east, however the references state the sp.vittata is found in soil pockets on granite this far east, which does not match the habitat these ones were found in.
2nd stop – Bush block opposite Stafford Road, further north on the Esperance-Coolgardie Highway. More Banded greenhoods found as well as a good patch of Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata) leaves. The surprise find though was a large hood of Robust snail orchids (Pterostylis dilatata) growing under the protection of the shrubs. These orchids flower May to August between Northampton and Toolinna.
3rd stop – Boydell Road, even further north along the Highway. Nothing found other than more Hare orchid leaves so our final and 4th stop is our usual location on Fleming Grove Road. Further Banded greenhoods found, plus some Hare orchids still in flower. Past their best but easily recognisable.
Average day for orchids, however it was wonderful to get out under a beautiful blue winters sky. Nothing better than a Sunday drive with orchids as an added bonus.
We awake to a crisp winters’ morning at the Chicken Ranch in Varley. After a leisurely breakfast, we break camp and head straight for Dempster Rock to look for orchids. Nothing in bloom found. Disappointed, we move on and stop at a new location for us, in the Lake Hurlstone Nature Reserve.
This location may prove fruitful in later stages of the season, as it has a few different habitats to check out. We did locate some orchids this time as well, so all is good. First up appears to be the Mallee banded greenhood (Pterostylis arbuscula) due to its small size and colouring. Further specimens are found with more stem leaves, taller plants and more flowers, so some may be the Dark banded greenhood (Pterostylis sanguinea). I will post pics of all, so please assist with the identification if you can.
Also found lots of spent White bunny orchids, with a lone one still identifiable as such. This one had a crinkled edged stem leaf, so I initially thought it to be the Crinkled-leafed bunny orchid(Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. undulatus)which flowers during April and May, hence why only spent flowers were found, except for this late flowering one of course. However, using Florabase, the only listed bunny orchid found in both the Shire of Kulin and the Shire of Kondinin is the Blunt-leaved bunny orchid (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. brevifolius) which flower May and June and only have up to 3 flowers. The leaf is also crinkled-edged so I am happy with this identification. Seems subsp. undulatus has been cancelled in Florabase and the common name of Crinkled-leaved bunny orchid given to subsp. brevifolius. The name game is never ending with native orchids. Also found on the way back to the Triton was a nice specimen of the Dark banded greenhood.
Leaving this new location, we head north to Hyden, where we enjoy an amazing hamburger for lunch. As Richard is running late, we make tracks for Anderson Rocks, our planned destination for this long-weekend.
During the weekend I would climb the rock and record the sounds of the frogs in the FrogID App and then attempt to upload my recordings. I received a reply from the Frog ID App on the 20/07/22 advising they had identified 2 species, so my uploads were successful. The species found were the Bleating Froglet (Crinia pseudinsignifera)and Crawling Toadlet (Pseudophryne guentheri).
After a great long-weekend camping with Richard, Sandy and Noel at Anderson Rocks, it is time to travel home. As per usual we do not travel home in a straight line and try our best to take roads yet travelled. So, from Hyden we make our way to Allen Rocks Road, where we stop at an old rubbish dump it seems, as there is so much rubbish lying around. We found some old Gest cooldrink bottles and an old enamel pot to add to our collection. The only orchids found here were some yet to fully open shell orchids.
Next stop was on Dragon Rocks Road in the Dragon Rocks Nature Reserve. This roadside stop turned up some Dark banded greenhoods. Then further south on the Newdgate Road North at another roadside stop we only found some spent Pygmy orchids (Corunastylis fuscoviridis) which are also an early flowering orchid.
Final stop for the day other than to fuel up in Lake King and a toilet break in Munglinup. Arrived back in Esperance around 6.15pm and had dinner at our sons’ house, before heading home to unpack. A great weekend but not so great on the orchid front.
Well after all the stress of the last month or so, it was great to get out in nature again with my darling wife for a good old orchid hunt. We decided we would head out East and see if anything new has sprouted since our visit in April.
We went straight out to our Parmango Road location and found some beautiful Scented autumn leek orchids (Prasophyllum sp. ‘early’), which as the species name suggests, flower from April through to early July. Their stark white colouring stands out in the dull green greys of the surrounding foliage.
Another flowering orchid found was the Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata) which commences flowering as early as March. They can have up to 3 flowers per orchid (rarely 4) so I will post 3 of our triple headers found.
. Only spiral leaves and buds were found of Pterostylis species, so no other photos taken. Beaumont Nature Reserve is our next location; however, orchids are very light on there as well. At least the first orchids found are new for the 2022 season. The common Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) is found in isolated specimens of various sizes and stages of flowering.
The only other orchid found flowering was the Red-lipped bunny orchid (Eriochilus valens), which is also an early flowering orchid, starting in March and finishing in May, so we are lucky to find some still going. I believe this is our first recording of this species which is exciting. It was the leaf shape and petals clasping the column that allowed me to ID these. Also, the latest references now record their location as far east as Condingup whilst my older reference book has it occurring only as far east as Munglinup.
We now move back towards Esperance and pull into Condingup Peak. Snail orchid rosettes found with Sun orchid leaves growing out of the moss on the rocks. Bunny orchids are finished up here and we find a recognisable Hare orchid.
Final location for the day is Coolinup road, where we find some more orchids that are all past their prime as well. More Hare and Bunny orchids are found. The bunny orchids may be the newly named Eastern granite bunny orchid (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. ‘eastern granites’) which is listed as being located between Esperance and Balladonia during the months of April and May. Growing on granite, smooth leaf and lack of pink colouring confirm this ID. Thoughts??
Well that is our day done. With only 5 species found it was not that great, however recording 2 different species of Eriochilus was exciting as both are new to us.
Well after spending a few days with family and friends celebrating my late mothers life it was time for the long drive home to Esperance. We had an extra passenger for the drive back, our son Jace. Now this passenger would not allow us to stop along the way to check for orchids. We insisted that we cannot drive all that way without a quick stop to stretch our legs. So, he finally relented and allowed us to make a quick stop at one of our regular haunts.
Pallarup Rocks, south of Lake King, in the Pallarup Nature Reserve, usually has something in flower when we visit. This time the only orchid found flowering was the small but beautiful Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata). Now off to Esperance.
A road trip back home to Dwellingup for my beloved Mothers funeral is not something I wished to be doing, but not unexpected either. As we were driving through so-called Winter Spider orchid territory, we made a few stops along the way. First up called into Varley with no luck. Then we popped into the bush around Lake Gouter Nature Reserve, again with no luck. Our final stop of the day was at Karlgarin Nature Reserve, where we did not find any Winter spider orchids, however, were lucky to find a Pygmy orchid (Corunastylis fuscoviridis) still in flower. Spent ones were found at all 3 locations. These little orchids are similar to Leek orchids as their flowers are inverted.
Well, we finally get to go exploring on our first orchid hunt of this season. It has been a struggle finding the time, what with COVID isolation after a family centred Easter weekend, but we got there on the last day of April. Richard (our travel buddy) dropped in for the weekend, so he was seconded as driver for the day. First up of course we had a wonderful, cooked breakfast at the Esperance Bird and Animal Park.
Moving north up the Esperance Coolgardie Highway we make a stop at our Fleming Grove Road location, hoping the previously found orchids are again flowering. Deb moves ahead of us boys and confirms she has found the Leafless orchid (Praecoxanthus aphyllus). These orchids flower from March till May over a range from Pinjarra to Esperance.
Also found in the same area were many Hare orchids (Leporella fimbriata) which occur during March to June over a wide range, Kalbarri to Israelite Bay. Unlike the leafless orchid, these little guys have either one or two purple striped smooth green leaves.
There was also a solitary White bunny orchid (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. dilatatus) surrounded by Hare and Leafless orchids. However, many more were found scattered around the wider location. These orchids also flower early, March to May, over a range between Dirk Hartog Island and Israelite Bay.
We then decided to move further east and check out the scrubland near the railway line. Well, we really only checked out the edge of the track, where we found another Leafless orchid and a White bunny orchid hiding underneath a prickle bush. Video taken of the Leafless orchid but not the White bunny. We also did a recognisance of the patch of scrub diagonally opposite our usual patch and this was a nice mix of scrub and regrowth so it may warrant another visit later in the season.
Deb has to work tonight, so we make tracks for home so she can relax before her shift. We also have our son’s birthday dinner to attend at 5pm. Finding our 3 usual suspects for today made the quick trip worth it and it was nice to get out in the fresh air for a change.
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.
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
200 – 400mm in height
Flowers – Late Aug to Oct
Location – Wongan Hills to Jerramungup
Granite sun orchid
100 – 350mm in height
Flowers – Aug to Nov
Location – Mullewa to South Australia
Small flowered donkey orchid
150 – 350mm in height
Flowers – Late July – Sept
Location – Moora to Albany
100-180mm in height
Flowers – Oct to Jan
Location – Kalbarri to Grasspatch
EIGHTY SIX GATE ROAD – UNNAMED NATURE RESERVE
Little laughing leek orchid
60 – 200mm in height
Flowers – Jul to Oct
Location – Shark Bay to Eyre
Granite sun orchid
Leaf – Narrow, 4-6mm in width
Colour – Blue, purple or pink
(Caladenia flava subsp. flava)
100 – 250mm in height
Flowers – Jul to early Dec
Location – Geraldton to Israelite Bay
Green spider orchid
Another common name – Fringed mantis orchid
Leaf – Single, erect, hairy leaf 100-200mm in length
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
40 – 150mm in height
Flowers – Aug to early Nov
Location – Kalbarri and Israelite Bay
Harrismith / Dudinin area
Granite sun orchid
Green spider orchid
Shy sun orchid
150 – 350mm in height
Flowers – Oct to Nov
Location – Perth to Esperance
Little laughingleek orchid
Common mignonette orchid
(Microtis media subsp. media)
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
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.
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!!