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.

Also found were the South coast donkey orchids, with many more to come. However we must push on as it is now past lunch time and we still have Munglinup Beach campground to check out.

Well first up we drive down to the Oldfield River and park up on the granite rock bank, so we can have a quick scout around. Other than one South coast donkey orchid and many leaves in bud, nothing much was found so we quickly move on.

We now venture down to the Munglinup Beach campground (Mud Map SE 33) and I go looking for the elusive helmet orchid, whilst Deb takes Lorraine and Ken down to the beach. I come across loads of leaves and then find some sprouting flowers, however they are not fully open. By this time Deb has made her way into the Agonis flexuosa grove and we both simultaneously find fully open ones in different patches. They are confirmed as being the Crystal helmet orchid (Corybas limpidus) which flowers from July to early-September in coastal locations between Walpole and Esperance. We had to lie flat on the ground to get the photos as they are only 20mm in height.

Very happy to have found these beautiful small orchids flowering as they are listed for the Mud Map reference. Also found underneath the Agonis flexuosa trees are snail orchids. They appear to be the Coastal snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘coastal snail’) which is found between Bremer Bay and Israelite Bay during the months of July and August. Distinctive features are bloated appearance and small thickened lateral sepals.

Leaving Munglinup Beach we now drive west towards Hopetoun our planned lunch stop. On the way we check out both Starvation Bay and Masons Bay campgrounds. Choosing the bakery for lunch we walk down to the foreshore and finally fill our bellies.

We now head north to Ravensthorpe where we grabbed a ginger ice-cream from Yummylicious Candy Shack. Sooooo good!! After showing Lorraine and Ken the Grain Silo’s, we head west out to Kukenarup Memorial, one of our regular orchid haunts.

Just past the Eagle Wings to the left is a wonderful little Dancing spider orchid (Caladenia discoidea) which is found between Israelite Bay and Kalbarri flowering during August, September and October.

Next up we find the Blue beard (Pheladenia deformis) which flowers over along season, May till October. They can occupy many different habitats, (woodlands, shrublands, granite outcrops and forests) over a range from Israelite Bay to the Murchison River. Many specimens are found at this location today.

On the return leg of the trail we find some donkey orchids. As mentioned in the Esperance Wildflowers blog (refer links) the Green Range and South coast donkey orchids overlap in their distribution and have very similar features which makes identifying them so much harder. I will call those found today South coast donkey orchids as the labellum mid lobe has light patches on the edges. However I am open to correction.

Final orchid for the day was the reliable Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) which occurs between Geraldton and Israelite Bay from August to October. As it is now past 5pm the light is fading fast, so the pics are not the best, however they still record the finding.

From here it is a quick dash to the lookout on Mt Desmond, east of Ravensthorpe, to catch the sunset. Another wonderful day showing Lorraine and Ken our beautiful SE coast and surrounds.

04/07/2020 ….. July Jaunt to the West

Day Trip, Lake Shaster NR, Munglinup NR, National Parks, Nature Reserves, Springdale NR, Stokes NP

Today we plan on visiting Munglinup Beach shire reserve and search for the shell orchids we have previously found there. Other than that we are going to wing it. It is a beautiful sunny winter morning when we head off. I am driving for a change as Deb has just finished night shift.

First point of call is Stokes National Park where we visit the camping area. Here we find many greenhoods. From the colouring of them, they appear to be the Dark banded greenhoods (Pterostylis sanguinea) which occur over a larger range, Mullewa to Esperance in WA as well as Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia. They may however be the newly named Mallee banded greenhood (Pterostylis arbuscula) which has a shorter stature and up to 5 flowers only per plant. These occur over a similar range, Northampton to Eyre as well as in South Australia. Both species vary in colour from dark green to brownish-green to reddish-brown.

We now move on and head further west along the South Coast Hwy. Turning south onto Torradup Road which curves west into Springdale Road. We pull over at a burnt patch of scrub, which apparently is Springdale Nature Reserve. A quick look around turns up many Thelymitra, Pyrochis and Caladenia leaves but nothing in bloom as yet.

Heading further west we turn down Munglinup Beach Road and head down to the Oldfield River. On the track in, Deb spies a flowering donkey orchid. So we both jump out to grab a photo of the South coast donkey orchid (Diuris sp. ‘south coast’) which occurs between Munglinup and Denmark. Differs to the Green Range donkey orchid in having a broad mid-lobe to the labellum.

We then drove to the river bank and parked up on the granite. After eating lunch we ventured around looking for orchids in flower. Lots of Caladenia leaves found and only one decent greenhood.

Off to the Munglinup Beach campground we go (Mud Map SE33), as this is our planned stop of the day. Heading into the stabilised dune system we immediately come across a snail orchid, which is not fully formed as yet. From the location and length of the lateral sepals I am going to name this the Ravensthorpe snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘Ravensthorpe’) which occurs between Esperance and the Stirling Ranges. Also came across lots of what appears to be Corybas leaves.

Pushing through to the base of the dunes Deb successfully discovers some shell orchids in flower. They are found all along the base of the dunes, with many more non-flowering rosettes than flowering orchids, but still flowering in good numbers. The Curled-tongue shell orchid (Pterostylis rogersii) is a coastal orchid found from Binningup to Israelite Bay during June, July and August. It varies in colour from Green to Brown, as the photos below show. There are 7 named species of shell orchids found in Western Australia.

Further snail orchids are found and many Corybas leaves, with some starting to bud. We will have to re-visit in the coming weeks to see if we can catch them in flower.

Time to move on, so Deb takes a track leading east which we assume will take us to another beach access. Whilst slowly driving along in 1st gear we are both peering out looking for any orchids that may catch our eye. Unbelievably I spy a lone little snail orchid. The Thick-sepalled snail orchid (Pterostylis meridionalis) occurs along the coast from Cape Arid to Esperance. My location is 100km west of this, however I feel its small stature, uniformly thickened lateral sepals and substantial rosette when compared to stature of orchid, confirms my ID. Please correct me if you disagree.

We have travelled into Lake Shaster Nature Reserve whilst heading east, which occurs both west and east of the Shire Reserve at Munglinup Beach. Further along the track we come across many more banded greenhoods, of varying colours and sizes.