19/08/2020 ….. Wandoo National Park to Quajabin Peak (Road Trip 2020)

National Parks, Road Trip, Wandoo NP, Western Australian Orchids

After our departure from Perth late yesterday afternoon, we awake to a beautiful morning in Wandoo National Park. After enjoying breakfast we go exploring the surrounding woodland for orchids, whilst allowing the camper to dry out from a damp evening.

Wandoo National Park

Common donkey orchid

(Diuris corymbosa)

Blue beard, blue fairy orchid

(Pheladenia deformis)

Little pink fairy, dwarf pink fairy

(Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans)

Primrose spider orchid

(Caladenia xantha)

Sugar orchid

(Ericksonella saccharata)

Murdoch snail orchid

(Pterostylis ectypha)

Clubbed snail orchid

(Pterostylis glebosa)

Cowslip orchid

(Caladenia flava subsp. flava)

Jug orchid

(Pterostylis recurva)

Banded greenhood

(Pterostylis vittata)

We then pack up our dry camper and move back to the highway to travel east. We don’t get far before another location to check out appears on the right. We take the track in and first stop along the drive in, then park up at the picnic area, before stopping along the track back to the highway. This proved a great spur of the moment stop.

Mount Observation

Little pink fairy

(Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans)

Frog greenhood

(Pterostylis sargentii)

Jug orchid

(Pterostylis recurva)

Small flowered donkey orchid

(Diuris porrifolia)

Blue beard

(Pheladenia deformis)

Common spider orchid

(Caladenia varians)

Clubbed spider orchid. Long-clubbed spider orchid

(Caladenia longiclavata)

Big clubbed spider orchid

(caladenia magniclavata)

Bird Orchid

(Pterostylis barbata)

Silky blue orchid

(Cyanicula sericea)

It is now past 1pm so we make tracks to York. Here we have a wonderful pub lunch before heading south. Just before reaching Beverley we check out St Paul’s church at Edwards Crossing. A beautiful old church in the middle of nowhere it seems. Next we pass through Beverley without stopping and turn east a Mount Kokeby. Another amazing historic build is found in Bally Bally. The old town hall was an impressive sight.We had chosen Quajabin Peak as a possible overnight stay. Not much on offer but we set up camp anyway, before I climb the Peak for a birds eye view of the surrounding farmland. Unfortunatley the peak is ravaged by erosion. At the top of the peak I found a Rufous greenhood type orchid in bud. Nothing else located.

It was a great day checking out the Wandoo National park. Finding 17 orchid species was a bonus.

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.