After a cool night, instead of packing up camp straight after breakfast, we go exploring the reserve, whilst the camper dries out. I had seen lots of orchids on my quick scout yesterday and now looked forward to having the time to explore with Debbie.
CHIRELILLUP NATURE RESERVE
As per last night the very first orchid found is the Green spider orchid (Caladenia falcata). Also commonly known as the Fringed Mantis orchid.
Then we stumble across a newly named orchid. The Little frog greenhood (Pterostylis occulta) was named in 2021 from specimens collected in 2005, west of Brookton. It is distinguished from P. sargentii by the shape and hairiness of the horn-like structures of the labellum.
Then an old favourite appears just asking us to take a photo. The Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) comes in varied shades of yellow. Then the reddish markings can be bold or pale and be dots or lines and everything in between.
Another yellow orchid is then spotted. Donkey orchids are another orchid that can be difficult to identify, as they are all so similar in appearance and overlap in their recorded locations. For this reason I will not attempt to name the ones found here.
Well I find donkey orchids hard to identify, now I need to try and identify spider orchids from the filamentosa complex. I believe some to be the Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians) whilst others may be the Joseph’s spider orchid (Caladenia polychroma) as both are recorded as being located in the Shire of Gnowangerup, and the features seem to match the reference books
An exciting find was the Purple-veined spider orchid (Caladenia doutchiae) which is found between Mullewa and Raventhorpe. The long tapers to the sepals distinguish it from other related orchids.
A common inland orchid is the Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata) however only a few were found at this location. Also found was the ever reliable Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva), again not in great numbers though.
We ran into some fellow orchid enthusiasts, Martina & Rick, who amazingly follow this blog via Facebook. They shared with us an app on their phone they use to record locations of interest. It also has the ability to overlay geology maps, that show different geology types, which they feel assists them in locating different orchid habitats. I have installed the Australian geology travel maps app and now regularly use it on our excursions.
The camper has now dried out sufficiently so we pack up camp and head off. We detour into Gnowangerup before heading east again. This time we venture into a new location which is not too great a detour off the main track. However we did have to take the Triton and camper through a bit of water to get back to the main Gnowangerup-Jerramungup Road. The water was in the middle of farmland, not the Nature Reserve though.
TOOMPUP NATURE RESERVE
Being a new location, we are excited to see what is found in Toompup Nature Reserve. We pull into an off road parking spot and immediately find some Green spider orchid (Caladenia falcata) which is also referred to as Western mantis orchid. The highly upturned lateral sepals are one of its distinguishing features.
Some small frog greenhoods are located next, however the photos we took are not clear enough to discern the species conclusively. I though, will name them the Little frog greenhood (Pterostylis occulta) due to the sharp of the horn-like structures on the labellum. Please correct me if you think I have erred in this ID.
Some yellow catches our eye. The faithful Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) is found. They certainly brighten up the dull West Australian bush.
Vying for having the most yellow in the bush are the donkey orchids, which are also found en masse. To make life difficult three species are recorded as being found in the Shire of Gnowangerup. I will take a guess that some are the Western wheatbelt donkey orchid (Diuris brachyscapa) and some other ones are the Small flowered donkey orchid (Diuris porrifolia). Florabase mentions D. brachyscapa whilst Atlas of Living Australia lists D. brachyscapa and D. porrifolia as being found in this Nature Reserve.
Well we did find some orchids as a single specimen. A flowering Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) and Dancing spider orchid (Caladenia discoidea) , a budding Purple enamel orchid (Elythranthera brunonis) and a spent Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata) were some such finds. Red beaks (Pyrorchis nigricans) and Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata) were found in low numbers.
OK so we find so many different coloured spider orchids from the filamentosa complex that being certain of their identification is proving difficult.
So, I believe most to be the Joseph’s spider orchid (Caladenia polychroma) as they are a common orchid that occurs in variable colours of white, cream, yellow, red and pink. However, the Chameleon spider orchid (Caladenia dimidia) is also a possibility given it occurs in various colours, though it is not currently recorded as occurring in the Gnowangerup LGA.
Some spiders I cannot name are shown opposite. Either the calli are not broad, the colouring seems different, or the size of the flower and labellum don’t fit in with the Joseph’s species. Any help with an ID would be appreciated.
Then to add to the confusion with identification, some hybrids are found together with a lutea or hypochromic specimen.
Parents could be the Purple-veined spider orchid and either Joseph’s or Chameleon spider orchids as both are recorded hybrids.
The lutea or hypochromic specimen appears to be a Joseph’s spider orchid due to the broad calli on the labellum.
Also found were some larger white spider orchids. Now 2 sub-species of C. longicauda are recorded as being found nearby to this location. However, I believe the one I located to be the Stark white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. eminens) due to the broad labellum with long fringe segments.
As with the smaller spider orchids, we also came across a couple that did not appear usual. They could just be variants, given the C. longicauda has 4 or more rows of calli. However, the colouring is not stark white either so if you can help with ID, again that would be appreciated.
Finally, time to move on towards Ongerup where we plan to grab a cuppa at the Malleefowl Centre. We came across some water covering the road, so I jumped out and walked through to test the depth. All good, so Deb pushes through and we arrive at the Yongergnow Malleefowl Centre.
After another amazing cuppa and icecream we make tracks east towards Jerramungup. However along the Gnowangerup-Jerramungup Road we pull over at a patch of green on the map. It turns out to be Warperup East Nature Reserve. So we jump out the Triton and go exploring this new location.
WARPERUP EAST NATURE RESERVE
First up we find the Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata), which has now been found at all 3 locations visited so far today.
Next up find some orchids of the Pterostylis genus. Most are way past their best, but I took photos just to record they are found at this location. Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva), Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) and Hairy-stemmed snail orchid (Pterostylis setulosa). These orchids all start flowering much earlier in the season.
Other green orchids are found but these belong to the Caladenia genus. First up we find the Small mantis orchid (Caladenia attingens subsp. gracillima), however later on larger flowers are found with longer fringe segments. These could be the Green spider orchid (Caladenia falcata) which occurs as far east as Jerramungup according to my references. The Small mantis orchid is stated as being located as far west as Jerramungup and as we are only 22kms west of Jerramungup both of these species could very well be located here.
Excitedly, we find a new species for the day. The Western tiny blue orchid (Cyanicula aperta) as the name suggests is only 50 – 150mm in height with flowers only 20 – 25mm across. For comparison the Stark white spider orchid is 300 – 600mm in height with flowers 80 -120mm across.
After blue comes the yellow. The reliable Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) is the next orchid to be spotted.
Another yellow orchid is also found. The Western wheatbelt donkey orchid (Diuris brachyscapa) is a common orchid found between York, Tenterden and Ravensthorpe. The lateral sepals are said to be crossed hanging, often reflexed, which my pictures confirm.
A special find for this location was the hybrid orchids found. Three in total were found and I believe they are all the named hybrid, Wheatbelt spider orchid (Caladenia x cala). This is a cross between a White spider orchid (C. longicauda) and a Green spider orchid (C. falcata). Hybrids of C. attingens X C. longicauda are also recorded though un-named.
We then move a little further east before pulling up at the location of Needilup. A quick exploration around then takes place with some familiar orchids being found.
Well, we only pull over on the side of the road and explore a few meters in. First orchid to catch our eyes was the donkey orchid. Then a lone 2 headed Jug orchid is found, plus lots of Green spider orchids. I feel these ones are definitely Green spiders and not Small mantises due to the size of the labellum.
No more stops before we reach our final destination for the day. Jerramungup is a welcome sight after a long day orchid hunting. We check into the Jerramungup Motor Hotel and enjoy a good pub feed and a comfortable bed. At least 17 different species found with a few hybrids thrown in. A very pleasing day !!!!