27/09/2020 ….. Peak Charles Long Weekend – Day 3

National Parks, Peak Charles NP, Weekend away, Western Australian Orchids

Well after a wet night we awake to a fine, cloudy day with white fast moving clouds covering the peak of Peak Charles. An amazing sight it is!!

After breakfast we jump in the Triton and head off south towards nearby Peak Elenore, where we plan to explore for orchids. Driving along the track southwards we come across a track leading west back towards the rocks so Deb decides to check it out. We come across someone camping so nearly just turned back but luckily I noticed we could bypass a fallen tree and get closer to the rocks. Pulling up alongside we venture into the rocky slope which is quite well vegetated and is still quite green. Might be due to being on the lee side of the hill.

Almost immediately green spider orchids are found. Two subspecies of Calendenia attingens are found in this area. They are very similar orchids with the main distinguishing feature being the lateral sepals. Small mantis orchid (Caladenia attingens subsp. gracillima) has upswept lateral sepals and the Granite mantis orchid (Caladenia attingens subsp. effusa) has barely upswept lateral sepals, plus the lamina calli of the Small mantis orchid extend further onto the red apex than other species, which assists with identification, however is still proves difficult.

In the midst of so many mantis orchids a Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila) is found. These orchids flower July to early October over an easterly range from Kondinin to Madura. They can be found growing around granite outcrops. Other specimens were found later on in the search of this location.

Another spider orchid is found which is proving more difficult to identify. The labellum has very dark distinct red lines and the petals and sepals are quite narrow. I will be naming these orchids the Ironcaps spider orchid (Caladenia paradoxa) which can be found on granite outcrops and is said to intergrade with C. microchila at the eastern extent of it’s distribution (Wubin to Norseman). Please correct me if I’m wrong as the distribution listed does not include Peak Charles specifically.

A rufous greenhood type orchid is the next found. Various specimens are found scattered around and they differ in colour, lateral sepals positions and general aspect. Naming these orchids is proving very difficult. The specimens with long thin apically upcurved lateral sepals could be the Striped rufous greenhood (Pterostylis zebrina) which is recorded as being found between Mt Ridley to Merredin growing on or near granite outcrops.

There is a brown coloured greenhood with much shorter lateral sepals that are quite hairy looking and quite square at the top rather than being rounded. Based on this I’ll name this specimen the Straight-topped rufous greenhood (Pterostylis sp. “straight tops”) which is located between the Murchison River and Peak Charles, our current location. However this orchid is not listed in the latest reference book so please correct me if you believe I am incorrect.

Many other rufous greenhoods were found and naming them is just too difficult, so I’m just uploading some pictures with the hope that someone can provide some guidance.

An unexpected find was the Sigmoid spider orchid (Caladenia sigmoidea). For very small orchids they are quite distinct with red and cream colourings and of course the ‘S’ shaped apex to the labellum, from which it derives it’s name.

Moving on, we head south towards Peak Elenore. We don’t go far before a change in vegetation makes up stop to have a look around. First up is a rufous greenhood orchid just budding up. Then further along another lone orchid is found, however this one is in full flower. Due to the long thin sepals this orchid could be a Slender rufous greenhood (Pterostylis macrosceles). It is recorded as growing between Goomalling and Queen Victoria Rocks, which is someway North of our current location, however Florabase records it as being in the Esperance shire, so I am happy with my ID.

After 30mins of searching, nothing else is found, so we move on. This time we stop in a white sandy patch to see if anything different can be found. After a few minutes with nothing found we move on and get to the Salmon Gum patch, where we were originally going to camp after finding the camping ground full. So happy we are camping where we are as this place is rather dry and barren. However there are orchids here. First up is the Insect-lipped rufous greenhood (Pterostylis insectifera) which is located between Karroun Hill, Ravensthorpe and Norseman. An exerted labellum and down-curved lateral sepals are distinctive features.

Another orchid found could very well be the Elegant rufous greenhood (Pterostylis elegantissima) due to the wide-spaced flowers and laterally-splayed lateral sepals. The labellum is almost blackish, dark green. Unfortunately, one of my specimens two flowers has a green labellum, which disagrees with my ID. However the orchids occur in locations between Goomalling and Salmon Gums, which concurs with my ID. Another case of ID confusion!

As it’s now 12.30ish we decide to give Peak Elenore a miss and head back to camp to grab a bite of lunch. After lunch the 2 Deb’s have a rest so I head off looking for a way up onto the rock. It is way too steep close to camp so I follow the base for quite a while. At one point I stumble across a small spider orchid growing a the base of the granite. Struggled to get some good photos but they are posted below just for recording purposes. By the off white colouring I believe it to be a Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians) which is found from Kalbarri to Esperance flowering from July till mid-October.

Nearby other rufous greenhoods were found. I think some are more Striped rufous greenhoods and one with cupped lateral sepals I am unsure of.

Not finding much else I decide to leave the rock s and head into the surrounding woodland/scrub to see if anything different is found. First up only more rufous greenhoods are found then by chance a small patch of Shy greenhoods (Pterostylis allantoidea) are found. The little guys belong to the snail orchid complex and flower in the area bordered by Ravensthorpe, Coolgardie and Israelite Bay, during August and September.

Stumbled across the remnants of a Caladenia roei complex orchid then on the track back to camp some more rufous greenhoods are found.

Peak Elenore will have to wait for another visit as time has gotten away from us and this is our last night camping. Appears the rufous greenhood orchids are the dominant orchid complex at Peak Charles N. P. at this late time of the season. It was still a pleasure finding them and getting out into the “Great Outdoors”.

26/09/2020 ….. Peak Charles Long Weekend – Day 2

National Parks, Peak Charles NP, Weekend away, Western Australian Orchids

Waking up in the great outdoors and enjoying a hearty breakfast is such a wonderful way to start the day. As we could not find room at the established campground, we need to drive back to the adjoining day use car park for the beginning of the walk trail which heads up the peak. It is along the flat part of this trail that we find our first orchid. One Rufous greenhood (Pterostylis roensis) is found growing under the trees. This is a inland orchid found growing between Mt Jackson and Balladonia in the months of September to November. The relatively short lateral sepals are a distinctive feature.

The trail then commences a climb up the rocks with the ultimate goal of summiting Peak Charles. We however only plan on reaching the plateau between Peak Charles and the smaller mound to the east. We made it to Mushroom rock without finding another orchid which is a bit concerning however we rest for some photo opps then move on up further with hope in our hearts.

Deb locates a patch of mignonette orchids, however only one was in bloom. So I grab a few pics for record purposes and continue up to the plateau. They appear to be the Granite mignonette orchid (Microtis graniticola) due to the location, green coloured flowers and concave dorsal sepal. As the name suggests theses orchids occur on granite outcrops ranging from Mullewa to Balladonia.

Many spent donkey orchids Diuris sp. are found however none still in flower unfortunately. Once we reached the plateau we headed east with the plan to cross over to the other mount. Along the plateau it is devoid of orchids until we find another rufous greenhood in the throngs of opening up.

It is over 1 hr since we found the first orchid then excitedly we stumble across the small Sigmoid spider orchid (Caladenia sigmoidea) growing under some protective bushes. These wonderful little spider orchids are found inland between Mt Jackson to Mt Ragged. They only grow to 150mm in height and are distinguished by their S-shaped labellum apex.

Well the gully between the 2 mounts is deeper than we remember so we back track down the hill to follow the base of the rock around and then climb back up the 2nd mount.

Pushing our way onto the next mount we come across some other rufous greenhoods. Different species though this time. From my research I believe them to be the Striped rufous greenhood (Pterostylis zebrina) which occurs on granite outcrops from Merredin to Mt Ridley.

Deb is onto her spotting as usual and comes across a small patch of Shy greenhoods (Pterostylis allantoidea) which are a very distinctive orchid. Prominently extended dorsal sepal produces a pointed hood over a thick sausage like labellum. Found over a triangular range between Coolgardie, Raventhorpe and Israelite Bay.

Hidden under the same bush as the Shy greenhoods was a green coloured rufous greenhood. Solely due to the bright green colouring I am naming this one the Green spooned-lipped rufous greenhood (Pterostylis virens) as most others are green-brown or similar variations. If I had taken a photo of the labellum, this may have confirmed or otherwise my identification.

Over the remainder of the time we searched, the only orchids found were many more rufous greenhoods, of possible different species. Tough job trying to name these orchids. Assistance would be greatly received.

Nearing 1pm so we decide to head back down to the Triton and drive back to camp for some lunch and a quiet afternoon relaxing.

Very pleased to have found the Sigmoid spider orchids, however disappointed at the lack of Donkey orchids and other spider orchid species. It definitely was the day of the rufous greenhood complex orchids, which was wonderful.

25/09/2020 ….. Peak Charles Long Weekend – Day 1

Esperance, Helms Arboretum, National Parks, Nature Reserves, Peak Charles NP, Red Lake Townsite NR, Weekend away, Western Australian Orchids

It’s Friday before the Queens Birthday long weekend and I have taken another RDO, so as to make it extra long. A camping weekend at Peak Charles which is some 150kms or so NNW of Esperance is planned.

We pack up the Triton and camper trailer then head up to pick up Deb C. who rides shotgun with my darling Deb driving. We are taking Deb C. on her first ever trip North of Esperance. First point of call is the Esperance Bird and Animal Park for a takeaway coffee/hot chocolate and sweet slice. This was to give us energy for our first orchid hunting location, which just for a change is good old Helms Arboretum (Mud Map SE 35).

First orchids found alongside section 21, were the wonderful Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) , the Common bee orchid (Diuris decrementa) and the Lemon-scented sun orchid (Thelymitra anennifera) which are regular finds at this location. Oddly enough they are all yellow in colour.

Then just before hopping back in the Triton Deb spies a spider orchid in the overgrown Section 21, so we all go to investigate. We discover many beautiful large Esperance king spider orchids (Caladenia decora) in flower. The spreading petals that barely drop are a distinguishing feature when comparing them to the often co-located and similar Heberle’s spider orchid. Due to the lack of colour some may actually be hybrids with the Esperance white spider orchid.

Leaving Section 21 we head straight down to the track between Sections 1 and 2. Nothing much found along this track, however upon driving further we find the Rattle Beaks (Lyperanthus serratus) growing on the edge of Section 9. No longer right on the bull ants nest, thank goodness, but about 2 metres away. Only the one in flower though which was disappointing.

We then zigzagged our way through multiple sections and found many more Esperance king spider orchids and other possible hybrids. Could not resist posting more photos of these beautiful orchids.

We also came across some much smaller orchids. The Zebra orchid (Caladenia cairnsiana) for example has flowers that are only 15mm across whilst the Esperance king spider orchids can be up to 100mm.

We then checked out a patch in Section 83 to see if we could find the small spider orchids we had found in previous seasons. Prior to reaching the exact spot of the spider orchids some other orchids jump out at me. The Purple enamel orchids (Elythranthera brunonis) are so bright you cannot miss them.

And then the Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila) appears in it’s usual location. Only a small clump of 2 plants though is found this year. A a little further off the road are some more Lemon-scented sun orchids and Common bee orchids in flower.

Also discovered in in the reedy grass were some Elegant donkey orchids (Diuris concinna) which differ to the bee orchids in only having a small amount of brown markings at the base of the labellum. Coincidently, this species was named in 1991 from specimens collected at Helms Arboretum in 1985.

Walking back to the Triton we find more Esperance king spiders orchids and accompanying hybrids.

Moving up to Section 107 where we expect to find the magnificent Esperance white spider orchids (Caladenia longicauda subsp. crassa) flowering. We were not disappointed. These orchids can be larger the the Esperance king spider orchids and as mentioned previously the two hybridise with each other to form many varied coloured specimens.

Then on the edge of Section 109 we locate some more Zebra orchids. Some are not the usual colour and the lateral sepals are not clasping the stem, so may also be hybrids.

OMG it’s 12 o’clock and we are less than 20kms into our 150km drive, so we had better get a move on. Heading north on the Coolgardie-Esperance Hwy we make a pit-stop at the Grass Patch local store. Was an interesting reception, however Deb still purchased some locally made jam and relish, plus we all enjoyed an ice-cream.

Just north of Grass Patch we pull into Red Lake Townsite Nature Reserve and head down our track looking for the Frog greenhoods we have previously found here. No such luck this season however after eating our lunch and by a stroke of luck we found a lonely sun orchid just starting to bloom. As there seems to be only 2 species flowering north of Esperance I will be calling this one the Shy sun orchid (Thelymitra graminea). They flower during October and November, which would explain why we only found one starting to flower.

We finally reach the Kumarl – Lake King Rd turnoff and commence the unsealed road part of the drive to Peak Charles campground. We arrive to an all but, packed campground with only 1 uneven spot left. We decide to head head south around the rock, with the intention of finding the camping area in the Salmon Gums, however we find a track heading back towards the rock, so decide to investigate. It proves to be a dead end, however after a bit of manoeuvring we settle here as our camping spot.

We set up our camper and then the gazebo and camper stretcher for Deb C. Fire pit organised so I go for an explore up the rock. Way too steep for me in the fading light so grabbed a photo looking out over the woodlands, which I have selected as the Feature photo for this post. Time now to settle in for 3 nights camping under the stars.

Bliss!!

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.

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.