Road Trip 2019 – Ravensthorpe to Esperance

National Parks, Numerous days, Road Trip, Stokes NP

08/09/2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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