After a fun night sharing Father’s Day with my brother in Dwellingup, we awake to a fine sunny day. Then after breakfast, we make tracks for the coastal plain. The first orchid stop for the day is at an unnamed Nature Reserve on Burnside Road in Meelon. First up we find the old faithful Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava)which comes in varying shades of yellow and with varied markings. Unlike last year, this is the only orchid species found.
Slightly disappointed, we move on to Manea Park (Mud Map SW5) near Bunbury. After parking up, we immediately hit the walking trail, however, it takes a little while to find our first orchid. We spend just over and hour walking the loop path and we find many orchids. Donkey orchids are found and I believe some of them to be the Kemerton donkey orchid (Diuris cruenta)which flowers late August to October in a restricted range from Capel to Lake Clifton. A distinguishing feature listed in my reference book, is the lateral lobes to the labellum are yellow at their base and reddish at the tip. Other donkey orchids are found that may be a different species, as on a previous visit, I named 3 species found in the Bunbury area.
Another orchid found throughout the park was the snail orchid. From what i can tell they mostly resemble the Red sepaled snail orchid (Pterostylis erubescens) due to the colouring of the flower, the numerous stem leaves and long lateral sepals.
Then some stunning spider orchids are found. The large white spider orchid appear to be the Coastal white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. calcigena) due the location only, as the features of the subspecies are all similar in C. longicauda. However others seem to match the Sandplain white spider orchid (Caladenia speciosa) which has long messy labellum fringe segments and may also be found in this location. As per usual any input in identification would be welcomed.
As usual the good olde Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) shows up, as does the common Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva). Even though they are common orchids, it is still nice to come across some in this location.
A first for this location is also found, which is exciting. The Purple enamel orchid (Elythranthera brunonis) is one of two species in this Western Australian endemic genus. This particular orchid was being watched over by a local Bobtail (Tiliqua rugosa subsp. rugosa).
Other common orchids found along the walk include the Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) and the small Mosquito orchid (Cyrtostylis robusta)which was found growing around the base of a large tree.
Another small patch of snail orchids is found. From the hairy stem , to the pointed hood, it all leads to me believe they are more Red sepaled snail orchids. A very darkly marked donkey orchid is also found. Could possibly be the Purple pansy orchid (Diuris longifolia) or just a darker version of the Kemerton donkey orchid. Again, let me know your thoughts.
Had to grab a pic of how tall the donkey orchids were, before we leave Manea Park. We then made our way into Bunbury to the Farmers Market to have lunch and buy some supplies. On the highway welcoming people into Bunbury was a large billboard featuring the wonderful Cowslip orchids. Had to grab a pic of that as well. From here we make our way into the hills to check out the Wellington Dam mural. What an amazing sight, so of course it made it as the feature picture for this post. Finding a camping site took a while but we set ourselves up for the night and enjoyed another night under the stars in the great outdoors.
After leaving Mokine Nature Reserve we make our way south down Wambyn Road to St Ronans Nature Reserve(Mud Map E 7). We park up at the NW boundary of the park and go exploring. My first orchid found is the Little pink fairy (Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans) which is a rather common orchid flowering between Northampton and Esperance. They are always a pleasure to find though and range from pale to vivid pink in colour.
Also found is a lone Green spider orchid (Caladenia falcata), which is referred to as a common wheatbelt orchid, given its distribution from Wongan Hills to Jerramungup. This specimen stands a good 300mm in height and they are recorded as growing to 400mm in height.
Next up a patch of yellow is seen. Getting closer it is confirmed to be a donkey orchid and appears to be a Small flowered donkey orchid (Diuris porrifolia) which can have up to 7 flowers per orchid. Florabase confirms they are located in the Northam and York shires so the location is covered. The other possibility is the common donkey orchid which is similar though larger in size. Thoughts??
Finally we come across a new orchid for the day. The bright white Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata) is found as two scattered individuals, which is light on when compared to the dozens we have found growing elsewhere in previous seasons. Ericksonella is a another monotypic genus endemic to Western Australia.
The final orchid for this location is another yellow orchid. The reliable Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) is found with markings similar to the Brookton Highway cowslip orchid, though this orchid flowers from late September and is located further south. I have read that the boundaries are quite unpredictable with the subspecies but I’m happy to call it the plain cowslip.
We can’t spend an hour at each site, so we move onto Mount Observation in the Wandoo National Park to show Richard what we found here last year. Let’s hope they are flowering this season. On the drive in we spy a nice white spider orchid. I believe it to be the White Spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. longicauda) which is known to grow in the area and does occur in gravelly ground.
We then make our way up to the picnic area and park up, to go exploring. Not much around here but we did come across a couple of Blue beards (Pheladenia deformis) which is another monotypic genus, however this time is located along the whole of southern Australia including Tasmania. The most distinctive feature which alludes to the common name, is the dense mass of calli and short fringe segments to the upright labellum.
Walking back to the Tritons, Deb and I come across some Green spider orchids. Then a rocky incline, above the parking area, I find some more Small flowered donkey orchids.
Hidden by a log right where we parked is a couple of Jug orchids (Pterostylis recurva)which are a unique shaped orchid from the Pterostylis genus. They have also been referred to as the Recurved shell orchid, Antelope orchid and Bull orchid.
We now move on and stop at an area we have found other orchids before. The Clubbed spider orchid (Caladenia longiclavata)is again found growing on the verges. As the common names alludes both the sepals and petals are clubbed, with the former being long, thick, grooved clubs and the later small, thin clubs.
However some seem to be the often co-located Big clubbed spider orchid (Caladenia magniclavata) which is distinguished by having down-swept petals and lateral sepals and the clubs to the lateral sepals being approx 50% of the length. The Clubbed spider orchids clubbing is around 30% of the length in comparison.
More Little pink fairies were located as were some awesome Bird orchids (Pterostylis barbata) which are the most widespread of the bird orchids, ranging from Bindoon and Albany. I am amazed at the structure of these orchids with their beak, bloated body and feather duster like labellum.
Also found mixed in with the Clubbed spiders, Big clubbed spiders, Pink fairies and Bird orchids were more Blue beards and Jug orchids.
Finally we move on and close to the end of the track, near the Great Southern Highway we find some more donkey orchids and a Sugar orchid.
Turning south at Mundaring we travel along Mundaring Weir Road and make an on the spot decision to stop at Gungin Gully in the Beelu National Park for our last exploration of the day. We hit the bush and first orchid found is another Jug orchid quickly followed by a Bird orchid. In fact we find so many bird orchids, it is mind blowing.
Another Pterostylis sp. is found amongst the flock of Bird orchids. A small snail orchid is found, however I will not endeavour to name it based on one specimen. If you have any ideas on the ID please contact me.
Another Small flowered donkey orchid is found together with a very finished Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata). I took photos of both just to record their location.
The highlight of today was finding numerous Silky blue orchids (Cyanicula sericea)which is a common orchid in the western part of its distribution whilst becoming rarer in the eastern parts. Distribution is Jurien Bay to Condingup. The black spotted labellum is a distinctive feature of this orchid.
It’s 3pm so time to make our way to Sandy and Noel’s place in Bedfordale, where we will crash the night. Over the next couple days I train down to Mandurah to visit my mum and sister Maxine, then catch up with the in-laws for a Father’s Day breakfast near the Swan River, then pop up to my brothers place in Dwellingup, where we grab another bed for the night.
Another great day with at least 17 species of orchid found.
After a nice, dry, warm sleep we awake to another beautiful spring morning. Leaving Northam we head south down Spencers Brook Road to near Mokine, where we turn into Mokine Road. Next we turn at Leaver Road and find Mokine Nature Reserve, our first stop for the day. The first orchid found for the day is the Green spider orchid or Fringed mantis orchid (Caladenia falcata) which is the most widespread of the falcata complex orchids. The prominently clubbed lateral sepals emit pheromone-like odours to attract male thynnine wasps who pollinate the flowers.
Well the next orchid is the bright yellow Common donkey orchid (Diuris corymbosa)which flowers from August to October and is distributed between Gingin and Bunbury, then inland to Brookton. Donkey orchids are also called Pansy orchids by some, and the shape of the flower matches both common names to a tee.
Next up is the ever faithful Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava) which is arguably the most widespread species of terrestrial orchid in Western Australia. The location we find ourselves in, leads me to believe the orchids growing here are the subspecies “flava”, which is also the most widespread of the 4 named subspecies. These orchids can be found in their hundreds, however we only find scattered individuals and clumps.
Next up we find some Dark banded greenhoods (Pterostylis sanguinea) in both their green and brown forms. These orchids are nearing the end of their season as they are noted as flowering from June to September.
Another related orchid is also located. The distinctive Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) which is found from Geraldton to Israelite Bay, is another orchid that is regularly found on our treks. This orchid ranges in colour during it’s lifecycle from green to light brown, with the 3 pictured showing this feature.
Then another bright colour catches our eye. A dual-flowered Little pink fairy (Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans) is found growing on the road verge. The purple underside to the leaf is a feature to help distinguish it from the other pink fairies.
Further into the reserve I go to try and find anything else and as luck has it I come across a lone Dancing spider orchid (Caladenia discoidea), standing tall in the open. In fact they can be up to 450mm in height, however this specimen was around 270mm in height. The short, horizontal petals and lateral sepals are a distinctive feature of this small orchid. And just to record the sighting we did also find a still recognisable Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata), which flower March to June.
What a great little spot this turned out to be. We have spent just over 1hr here and have found 8 orchid species. Next time we will need to explore further into the reserve as we were only a few metres in from the road this time. As it is now after 11am we make tracks for our next exploration site.
After enjoying a very basic continental breakfast at the Koorda hotel we make our way along the Dowerin – Koorda Road, as we have not recorded driving this way before. We love breaking new ground so to speak, as this opens up our search area for orchids. With this in mind our first location visited is the Booralaming Sports Centre, a random piece of uncleared land chosen from Google Maps, whilst driving along. After checking out the old play equipment and abandoned tennis pavilion we get stuck into looking for orchids.
First orchid found was a lone Hairy-stemmed snail orchid (Pterostylis setulosa), which is not a great specimen. Photo taken just to record the finding. Next up we find another orchid in better numbers. The Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata) is a common inland orchid which is a monotypic genus, endemic to WA.
A donkey orchid is then found with a huge clump found later on back near the pavilion. From the location and the following features: reflexed lateral sepals, broad rounded petals, and broad dorsal sepal, I am calling these Mottled donkey orchids (Diuris suffusa).
Next up is a wonderful trio of Ant orchids (Caladenia roei) which have a broad smooth labellum with a central band of calli. The more south the location the longer the band of calli. Refer the post from the 01/09/2021 for an image of a northern form.
Then a nice surprise, some spider orchids are found. The yellow coloured ones I believe to be the Primrose spider orchid (Caladenia xantha) which flower until early September which explains the spent specimen found. The colouring ranges from pale to vivid yellow, which includes the labellum. EDIT: hugo_innes suggested an ID in iNaturalist Australia that they may be Chameleon spider orchid (Caladenia dimidia) due to the north/east location.
White coloured spider orchids also present and I thought they are probably the Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians), however after posting to a Facebook page a knowledgeable person advised they thought they were the Pendant spider orchid (Caladenia pendens subsp. pendens), due to the broad labellum, which is usually small in most other white wispy styled orchids.
We did get distracted with a large rubbish dump which gave us reason to scavenge, however we finally made our way back to the Triton’s and moved on westwards. Our next stop was at Moonijin Nature Reserve. We parked up near a creek depression and went exploring. First orchid found was the small Little laughing leek orchid (Prasophyllum gracile)which is by far the most widespread of these little orchids of the P. gracile complex.
Next up a beautiful spider orchid is found. A single specimen firstly, then an amazing clump of flowers. The Chameleon spider orchid (Caladenia dimidia) can be either yellow, cream or pink-red in colour so they can easily be confused with other similar species from the C. filamentosa complex.
After finding the clump of spider orchids, it was nice to find some Pink candy orchids (Caladenia hirta subsp. rosea)which range from very pale pink to vivid pink in colour. They always have bright pink calli on the labellum, unless you are lucky enough to find a lutea form. The white form found could actually be the related Candy orchid (Caladenia hirta subsp. hirta) as they do overlap in distribution, but maybe not this far inland.
Then another colour grabs our eyes. A donkey orchid is found which is probably the Dainty donkey orchid (Diuris refracta)due to the broad, reflexed dorsal sepal, reflexed lateral sepals and of course the location.
Also found were more Ant orchids, so after taking some more photos we move onwards to our next stop.
We stop off in Dowerin and grab some lunch at the Dowerin Bakery, before moving on to an unnamed Nature Reserve on Berring-Nambling Road, south-west of town. First up we find more Pink candy orchids and other ones that seem to be Candy orchids, as they are larger and white in colour.
Woohoo, another new orchid for the day. The Drooping spider orchid (Caladenia radialis)has a distinctive look, which the common name suggests. Even the dorsal sepal in usually drooping. A clumping spider orchid, we are lucky to find some great clumps as well. These orchids are a common inland species found from Northampton to Jerramungup, during the months August through October.
Then some bright yellow catches our eye. The cheerful Cowslip orchid is found and from the markings it appears to be the Brookton Highway cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. “late red“) which is also identified by the leaf being regularly longer than the flower scape. However we are around 80kms north of the recorded distribution and they flower from late September, so these may just be the standard cowslip (C. flava subsp. flava) which vary greatly in size and colouring.
It’s now past 2pm so we had better keep moving. We pass through Goomalling and head toward Northam. We make one last stop at Cartamulligan Well Nature Reserve which has Southern Brook running through the middle. We turn off Watson road into a gravelled area and go exploring. It is quite weedy so unsure how successful we will be with finding many orchids.
Surprisingly, the first orchid discovered is the Candy orchid or maybe its the Pink candy orchid. As mentioned previously their distributions overlap and subsp. rosea can be very pale pink in colour, even appearing white, so identification can be difficult. Let me know your thoughts on the ID for these ones.
Definite Pink candy orchids are found later on and these are pics of some of them.
Excitedly we find a new species for the day. This orchid is common but we still get excited when something new is found on any given day. The Blue beard or Blue fairy orchid (Pheladenia deformis)is the only species in the genus Pheladenia. Given it’s common name, it is interesting to note that they do come in a white variety, though these are rare.
The last orchid to be recorded for today is also the first one found, back at the Booralaming Sports Centre. You guessed it, the Hairy-stemmed snail orchid, which again is a common orchid, although restricted to inland areas. Unlike this morning though, they are found in numbers at this location.
Just before 4pm we make tracks for Northam, our planned overnight stop. We are being soft tonight and book a motel room at the Dukes Inn. Here we enjoy a beautiful meal and comfy beds. At least 13 species found today, which is awesome.
We awaken to an overcast morning, so have breakfast before packing up just as it starts to drizzle. It is decided to check out the surroundings a bit further before heading off. We again find and take photos of the Dainty donkey orchid (Diuris refracta) and the Dainty blue orchid (Cyanicula amplexans) which were previously found yesterday afternoon.
Heading back toward the Mullewa – Wubin Road we pull over on the verge of Offszanka Road at a spot that had been taped off. Here we found a Mallee fowl mound and some nice wildflowers, but no orchids.
Hitting the road again we head south to Morawa where we enjoy a great coffee at a popup stall, before grabbing a bite to eat at the bakery. Deb even gets in a spot of shopping with items purchased as Christmas presents. Moving on we pull over at Bowgada and looked around, including venturing into the Bowgada Nature Reserve. First up we find some more Dainty blue orchids before stumbling across some Ant orchids (Caladenia roei). These orchids occur over a large area and there are differences between southern and northern populations. These northern orchids have fewer calli on their labellum.
Just as we were about to move, on a lone Hairy-stemmed snail orchid (Pterostylis setulosa) was located standing tall, with nearby Dainty blue orchids. These are the most common inland snail orchid and they flower from late June right through to September.
Finally on the road again. 2 hours further south we turnoff at Kondut and pull over at a road side verge to stretch our legs. On our wander we discover some donkey orchids. Due to location, colouring and reflexed lateral sepals I believe they are Dainty donkey orchids (Diuris refracta).
Also found, which is very exciting were some spider orchids. Over the area numerous plants were found with differing colours, however the erect petals lead me to name then the Ironcaps spider orchid (Caladenia paradoxa). It is named the Mystery spider orchid in the Spider Orchids eBook 2018, which matches the scientific name better as this alludes to the difficulty in resolving it as a distinct species.
However a very yellow coloured spider orchid must be a different species. Upon checking my references I feel it could be the Yellow spider orchid (Caladenia denticulata subsp denitculata). The features that help with this ID are the yellowish-green colour of the flower and the petals and sepals arching out before drooping.
Then another spider orchid with a large broad labellum is found, whilst the Ironcaps spider orchid has a small labellum. The orchid is white in colour so is not the Yellow spider orchid either, It may be the Common spider orchid but again this has a small labellum, so I will not attempt to name it this time. As with all my ID’s any assistance provided would be appreciated.
We still have around an hour of driving before reaching Koorda, where we have booked a room at the hotel for the night, so we had to move on. Not a bad jag with this roadside stop. Possibly three or more species of spider orchids, though they could all be one. ID is so hard with the wispy type of spider orchids.
Well after 17 days without seeing any orchids, today should be the day we find some as we are now inland as far south as Kalbarri. Together with Richard, we have been following “The Wool Wagon Pathway” since leaving the others at the North West Coastal Hwy near Barradale. As usual we are travelling the pathway in reverse. Our first stop today is at Marker 3 – Yuin Station, which was apparently one of the first in the district. Nothing to see now, not even ruins. Prior to reaching Marker 2 we pull over at a creek crossing as the extra moisture in the surrounding scrub may now include orchids.
As is usual Deb finds the first orchid. The little Dainty blue orchid (Cyanicula amplexans) is an excellent find to start us off on our obsession. These orchids are found inland from north of Kalbarri to Norseman, flowering from August to early October.
Whilst I cross the road to get a photo of the Dainty blue orchid Deb also discovers a Hairy-stemmed snail orchid (Pterostylis setulosa), which is found over a larger inland range than the Dainty blue orchid.
We move onto Marker 2 which is “The Crossroads at Bumbinyoo Flats”. This was as the name suggests an intersection in the roads/pathways at which an inn and store was constructed close to a nearby spring. It only lasted a few years as it was abandoned once the Yalgoo railway line opened up. Again, there was nothing left to see.
Further south we ran into a tourist Mecca. The Wreath flowers (Lechenaultia macrantha) north of Pindar attract so many people that the shire has constructed a branch in the main road, to keep all the traffic off the road itself. Even though they are not an orchid, we had to get some photos and I have posted a couple as they are so beautiful and unique.
Moving on we arrive at Pindar, which is the starting point of the Wool Wagon Pathway, however for us it is the end. We had planned lunch here, but their is nothing now in the town, other than interpretive signage and one beautiful stone building. So onwards we go, west to Mullewa where we enjoyed an amazing meal at Inspirations Mullewa.
Overnight at Canna decided upon, so off we go, heading south. We are lucky enough to find room at the Canna hall/church site, which has hot water showers available. After setting up camp we go exploring the walk trails. Oh it so nice to be back in Orchid territory. First up we find some more Dainty blue orchids flowering singerly or in small clumps.
Not a huge number of orchids found however there are some donkey orchids flowering as well. From the prominently reflexed lateral sepals I believe them to be the Dainty donkey orchid (Diuris fefracta) which flowers during July to September over an inland range from Bindoon to Northampton.
Near the granite rock outcrop at the end of the major walk trail we also come across the Lemon-scented sun orchid (Thelymitra antennifera) which flowers from July to October over a large range from Shark Bay to Israelite Bay.
Hiding underneath a shrub we were lucky enough to find a hybrid orchid flowering, but not lucky enough for it to be open. The parents would be the Lemon-scented sun orchid and a Blue sun orchid, which produce a beautiful pink coloured sun orchid.
Next up we find the small Little laughing leek orchids ( Prasophyllum gracile) in flower. These are another widespread orchid which flower from July to October.
Then we finally find the ever popular Cowslip orchid, however these ones appear to be the subspecies called the Kalbarri cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. maculata), which is found in the northern parts of the listed cowslip orchid range. The usual distinguishing feature is the markings are usually spots, however the number of marginal teeth on the labellum, verify the ID. The Kalbarri cowslip has 4 to 8 teeth, whilst the other 3 subspecies have only 2 or 3 teeth.
Amazingly we only find one spider orchid in flower. A distinguishing feature that helped name this orchid was the broad, squat, glossy-white calli. The Glistening spider orchid (Caladenia insensum) flowers from June to September over a range between Hyden and Nerren Nerren Station, growing on granite outcrops and nearby drainage lines.
Time to head back to camp, have a hot shower, cook dinner then grab some ZZZZ’s. Seven orchid species found, plus one hybrid, so it has been a good first day back in orchid territory.
Waking up to the sound of nature is an amazing experience. After breakfast we break camp and head straight to Kulin, to fuel up. Then we make our way to the Macrocarpa Wildflower Trail just out of town on the Corrigin Road. As usual we drive around the trail stopping as we spot an orchid and then one of us is usually walking it as well. The first orchid for the day is the ever reliable Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva)which starts it’s season in August.
Next up some bright colours grab our attention. The Little pink fairy (Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans) stand out in the grey green colours of the surrounding scrub. Further specimens are found further around the trail, though I will record photos of each type only once, to minimise the size of this post.
Further along the small spider orchids start to appear. They do appear to be various species so will attempt to group them into separate lots. The first ones I’ll name are the Chameleon spider orchid (Caladenia dimidia)which is a variable coloured wispy type of spider orchid. The ones found and posted below are a creamy white, yellowish in colour with drooping sepals
Next up though is the Green spider orchid (Caladenia falcata) which was previously named the Fringed mantis orchid. These orchids are found between Wongan Hills and Jerramungup and have distinctive upswept narrowly clubbed lateral sepals.
Another small spider orchid, this time possibly the Joseph’s spider orchid (Caladenia polychroma) is found. As both the Chameleon and Joseph’s spider orchids are variably coloured I used the broader labellum to identify these ones as Joseph’s spider orchids.
In the middle of all these spider orchids we do find some small Hairy-stemmed snail orchids (Pterostylis setulosa). These little guys are the most common, inland, snail orchid being found between Kalbarri and Balladonia.
Also discovered was the Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata) which is another common inland orchid. This orchid is a monotypic genus endemic to Western Australia. This means it is the only species in the genus Ericksonella.
Final orchid of the location was the small Frog greenhood (Pterostylis sargentii), which has recently been split into two species. The distinctive labellum is actually different between the two types. Some of the ones found have spikes to their appearance which I have not seen before.
I will post photos of Wispy style spider orchids found but I cannot name them with any certainty. So much variation in appearance with these little spider orchids makes it very difficult to ID them.
It is now after 12 so we had better keep moving as we still have a long way to travel today. Unfortunately, Deb starts to feel unwell so we end up driving directly to Minnivale, our planned destination for today, with no further stops for orchid searches. After reaching Minnivale and with the help of our friends Bob and Jan we set up camp. I then take a late afternoon stroll into the Minnivale Nature Reserve to see if I could find anything.
I come across some Frog greenhoods hiding in the undergrowth as well as some Hairy-stemmed snail orchids. Then after some 20 mins I finally found a new orchid for the day. From the lateral sepals being prominently reflexed I believe I have found the Dainty donkey orchid (Diuris refracta). It is recorded as being in the Dowerin local government area by Florabase.
Time to end the day in the company of good friends. Other friends arrive later, including Richard, our regular travelling companion. We hit the sack after a long day traveling with the knowledge we have got so much more to come.
Planned family picnic cancelled, so we took the opportunity to go for a Sunday drive. Time to check the local area to see if we could find anything special. We headed west first, with a roadside stop producing only Caladenia leaves. We then pulled over for another roadside stop on the Gibson-Dalyup road, which proved more successful.
A donkey orchid catches my eye, then Deb notices I had walked past 2 plants to get to my find. Typical of me to miss ones that Deb then finds. Oh well, a find is a find. The orchid appears to be the Green Range donkey orchid (Diuris littoralis) which occurs between Denmark and Esperance and flowers from July to September. Leaves of other species located but nothing yet in flower or already past their time.
We now move on to Gibson to see it we find anything new. Once we reach the track off Walker Road we chug along in 1st whilst hanging out the window looking for anything. I spy a nice big Caladenia leaf so pull over to go for an explore. Before that though I make coffees from the thermos. Deb finds a couple of Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) which we found here on a previous visit, however took some photos to record it nevertheless. Another Pterostylis orchid found however not fully open. The Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) will be a common sight soon enough.
Slightly disappointed with our luck so far today, so we move on to our Crawford Road location. Again we appear to be too early as we find many orchid leaves, with some in bud. So where to go now? Helms Arboretum (Mud Map SE 35) of course. Surely we will find something in flower there.
We decide to mix it up and turn down a track in the arboretum we had not checked out before. This lead us nowhere that seemed likely to produce orchids so we found our way back to known territory. First up though, we head to a sunny spot to have lunch. Curried egg sandwiches eaten whilst checking out nearby spots. Deb finds so many budding spider orchids in a spot we had not really checked before, so we now know where to check out later in the season.
Moving on we head to the location where we have previously found Western tiny blue orchids. Deb drops me off to walk through the plot, whilst she drives around the boundary. I find some what I believe to be Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) however one of them is quite dark so am not so sure. Could be Dark banded greenhoods or Mallee Banded greenhoods. Thoughts welcome on the ID. No tiny blues found as they are listed as flowering from August, so again we must be too early. EDIT: I have been advised by a knowledgeable person the green orchid is a Dark banded greenhood (Pterostylis sanguinea) (green form) due to opaque lateral sepals without stripes, compared to the earlier greenhood found. Also confirms Mallee banded greenhood (Pterostylis arbuscula)for the darker greenhood. Thanks MP
Back on the main road into the arboretum Deb spies a small flowering spider orchid blowing in the strong winds. Very difficult conditions to try and get a good photo to assist with identification. I will provide two options. Either Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila)or Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians) as both flower early in July and extend into the Esperance area. What are your thoughts? EDIT:C. microchila has been identified by a knowledgeable person. Thanks MP.
Then it was time to check out the plot where we find our king spider orchids. Deb as usual finds the first one in flower. The Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora) as the name suggests is found around Esperance. It actually ranges between Bremer Bay and Cape Arid and inland to Scaddan. It is said to flower from August to October so the few orchids we found today must be some early bloomers.
We then move on to the plot where we find snail orchids in most years. This time is no exception. The snail orchids grow from quite a large rosette of leaves, have 2 or 3 stem leaves on a smooth stem and uniformly thick lateral sepals. I have been advised by a knowledgeable person from the WA Native Orchid Facebook group that they are most likely the yet unnamed Helms snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘Helms’). Also found some spider orchids in bud.
It’s now 2 pm so we make tracks for home as Deb commences her shift at 4 pm. Was not expecting to find 2 species of Spider orchids in flower so it turned out to be a great Sunday exploration.
On a cold winters day, what better to do than go exploring for orchids!! We must be mad. With grey clouds and the possibility of rain, we head north to check out the northern boundary of Helms Arboretum (Mud Map SE 35). We wish to see how far the Southern Curly Locks (Thelymitra uliginosa) have progressed. We locate some of the spiral leaves but not in the same numbers as previous years, which is disappointing considering the great start to the season, weather wise. Another orchid found was a spent Scented autumn leek orchid (Prasophyllum Sp. ‘early’) which flower April to June, hence this orchid being finished for the season.
Nothing else found so we move eastwards to Dempster Road via Gibson Road then turn into Wittenoom Road. Rather than check out the blue metal dump which is one of our regular haunts we move further north and check out the old gravel pit near Scaddan Road. First up growing in the pushed back road verge we find some banded greenhoods. As they vary in colour they may be different species. Other specimens are found further afield so I am confident the larger greenish ones are the Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) whilst the smaller brownish ones are the Mallee banded greenhood (Pterostylis arbuscula). Both flower during July and are shown as appearing in the Esperance region.
Then a wonderful patch of snail orchids being watched by a large fungi is found. From the rosettes and colouring of the snail orchids I believe they are Brittle snail orchids (Pterostylis timothyi). These small guys flower from July to September over an easterly distribution including Esperance.
We now move on further north and venture up a track that leads into Mount Burdett Nature Reserve. Further Brittle snail orchids are found or are they the similar Fawn snail orchids (Pterostylis parva) which are of smaller stature with shorter lateral sepals but fatter appearance.
Whilst we are taking photos of the snail orchids another 5 cars drive past on the track, so we decide to turn around and head to Mt Burdett (Mud Map SE36) for a detailed search. We reach our parking spot at the base of the granite rock an immediately find some greenhoods. From the height of the plants and the number of dark coloured flowers I believe they are Dark banded greenhoods (Pterostylis sanguinea) which flower June to September over a large range from Mullewa to Toolinna Cove.
Nearby found a lone Banded greenhood and then looking around some large snail orchids come into view. They are the Robust snail orchid (Pterostylis dilatata) which are distinctive, in that when flowering they lack a rosette.
I think the next snail orchid found is definitely a Fawn snail orchid as it is short statured , has bloated flowers and the rosettes have blue-green pointed leaves. The snail orchids are sharing the bright green moss with another small orchid as well. The Pink bunny orchid (Eriochilus scaber subsp. scaber)flowers early July, so these are on time as they are just starting to open. These little orchids are unique in that their flowering and non-flowering leaves differ in appearance.
Moving further up the rocky mount, we come across a patch of Mallee banded greenhoods which are similar to the Dark banded greenhoods but have less flowers and are shorter in stature.
We finally make it up to the summit, so to speak. We are excited to find a nice patch of shell orchids in flower. The Green-veined shell orchid (Pterostylis scabra)are a common inland shell orchid flowering over a huge range, Kalbarri to Esperance, during the months of May to August. They grow in varied habitats of woodlands and shrublands to shallow soil pockets on granite outcrops. The later describes our location.
Moving down the mount back to the Triton we come across more Fawn snail orchids. Nothing more so we move on in a south easterly direction this time.
So driving down Greens Road we notice a track leading into the Burdett South Nature Reserve. Quick check of Google Maps and we decide to check it out. It is quite overgrown so we end up walking mostly. Lucky find of a recognisable Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata) as they finish their season in June.
We come to a salt lake that provides a great backdrop for our obligatory “Selfie”, however the only other orchids found in flower where the good old Banded greenhood, plus a snail orchid with its hood eaten off. Rosette of stalked pointed leaves, leads me to name it the Brittle snail orchid.
Well it’s now 3.45pm so we decide to walk back to the Triton for the drive home. It was a very cold day however we found some great orchids and enjoyed the fresh air.