We have booked for 2 nights at the Westonia Caravan Park, so today we plan on checking out some nearby locations for possible orchids. The morning is very cold, in fact, ice has formed on the tonneau cover of Richard’s Triton. We again use the kitchen facilities and enjoy bacon and eggs on avo toast with hollandaise sauce. The sun is shining so we lay out all our wet belongings from yesterday to dry. We head into town first to check out with the shire if their local roads are open. They are all open, so we are able to follow our plan. We next call into a cafe to pick up takeaway lunch for later and a coffee for now, plus some gifts for the grandkids.
Leaving town, we head north to Geelakin Rock, where we find the usual large water tank which is filled by runoff from the granite rock.
In the first patch of bush, we immediately find orchids. First up we find the beautiful Drooping spider orchid (Caladenia radialis)which has a widespread distribution from Northampton to Fitgerald National Park. They are a distinct spider orchid, with usually dropping petals and sepals and a labellum with smooth edges or with a few short fringe elements.
A different species then pops into view. The bright cheerful Blue beard (Pheladenia deformis), is a common widespread orchid which ranges from Kalbarri down to Israelite Bay then eastwards into SA and beyond. It is easy to see where the common name came from, with the many labellum calli.
Amazingly only one snail orchid was found in our search of this rock. The Hairy-stemmed snail orchid (Pterostylis setulosa) is a common inland orchid. Common maybe but my one and only photo is not real good, but I had to record its discovery.
Luckily the next orchid stood out in the grasses however this does not equate to easy identification, especially with these smaller spider orchid species. However, using both Florabase and the Atlas of Living Australia as references, I will be naming theses first spider orchids the Chameleon spider orchid (Caladenia dimidia), which is a common, variable inland species.
Another small spider orchid appears to be the Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians) due to its whiter colouring and pendulous petals and sepals. As the name suggests they are a common orchid which grows between Kalbarri and Esperance.
Then one of the unique types of spider orchids is found. The small Ant orchid (Caladenia roei) is found growing next to one of the Drooping spider orchids. They can grow as high as 300mm however this specimen and others found were much shorter.
After a good 45 mins exploring this rock and surrounds, we decide to move onto our next planned stop, Warrachuppin Rock. At the intersection of the Koorda – Bullfinch Road we pull over at the Warralakin Hall for a photo as it is a rustic corrugated iron building. Warrachuppin Rock unfortunately is behind a fence so we could not reach it and after a quick search around the scrub I only located some Hairy-stemmed snail orchids.
So onwards to our final planned stop of the day, Baladjie Rock. At least this spot is set up for visitors. As expected, the first orchids found are more snail orchids. Some had shorter lateral sepals and less hairy stems, but the location leads me to name them all Hairy-stemmed snail orchids.
After 20 minutes of nothing but the occasional snail orchid I finally find another species for the day growing on the rock. The small Dainty blue orchid (Cyanicula amplexans) is growing in a sheltered nook on the eastern side of the rock. These beautiful little orchids grow between Kalbarri and Norseman during the months of August through October.
Back down on level ground I come across a couple of Ant orchids (C. roei) growing in the cleared patches of the scrub.
Then a trio of spider orchids is discovered, standing in isolation, as no others are found. I am struggling to place a definate ID to these ones. They are most likely more Chameleon spider orchid; however, any ideas would be greatly accepted.
Then another blue orchid comes into view. This lone specimen is a Blue Beard which is a monotypic species. Not great shots taken of this orchid, but I will post 2 images just for the record.
The final species found was the bright yellow donkey orchid. The species found at this location should be the Yellow Granite Donkey Orchid (Diuris hazeliae), so that is what I am identifying these ones as. These are a common inland orchid found from Paynes Find to Salmon Gums.
It’s after 3pm when we finally decide to head back to Westonia. The views from the top of the rock were amazing. This picnic area and rock are not a part of the adjacent Nature Reserve which I find interesting. We enjoy another night at the amazing Westonia Caravan Park.
So, before we get into our day of finding orchids, I need to catch-up on what’s been happening since the last post.
15/08/2022 ….. Early start as Sandy and Noel pack up and head off. A quiet morning is then enjoyed, where I go for a wander around the area near the homestead. The breakaway is amazing with its many colours. Richard then takes us for a drive up to Mt Elvire, well as high as we are game to go that is. The views are amazing. We also have fun fossicking in the black rocks of Lake Barlee.
16/08/2022 ….. I wake early for a change and go out to enjoy the sunrise. Well, that did not happen as the flies were so bad I had to wear the fly net and the sky was grey as, so no sun. It started to drizzle, then the sky grew darker. I woke up Richard and Deb so we could pack up before the rain got heavier. Fail. We pack up wet campers and head off. The track was already getting covered in water, so this will be interesting. We make it back to Evanston-Menzies Road turn west, then south down Evanston-Bullfinch Road. This road soon turned to a slippery hell ride. We could not go over 40km per hr and Richard lost control of his rig and spun 90 degrees on the track, causing damage to both camper trailer and Triton. After checking out his damage on a sealed intersection (mining roads) we take off too slowly and slide into the roadside ditch. One hr later after moving the MaxTrax many times Deb eventually gets the Triton and camper trailer back on the road. A long stressful while later the sealed road returns. Bullfinch not being much of a drawcard we head south to Southern Cross, where we are lucky enough to grab the last available room, a triple, at the Palace Hotel. Hot showers, hot meal, cold beer and warm beds are such a relief after this stressful day.
17/08/2023 ….. Waking up to a beautiful sunny, if somewhat cold day, we chuck our dirty clothes from yesterday into the washing machines, whilst we head across the highway to the local cafe for breakfast. Clothes added to the dryers Deb and I go for a walk around town, whilst Richard does some more cleaning of his rig. Check out at 10am, then we head down to do some extra cleaning as well, buy supplies from the local IGA before heading west towards Westonia.
We arrive at Westonia and grab ourselves two sites in the caravan park. Seems we needed to have booked but luckily for us the young lady who is the live-in caretaker organises for us to remain. After setting up camp we decide to go on the Woodlands & Wildflowers Heritage Walk Trail. Amazingly for us we actually start at Interpretive Sign No.1 and walk in the correct direction. We follow the trail until site 14 is reached, then due to the worsening weather we take the road back to our campers. We are lucky enough though to have stumbled across some orchids. The Hairy-stemmed snail orchid (Pterostylis setulosa)is a common inland orchid and is found growing from July to September. We find them growing singerly plus in small and large groups.
Of course, Deb gets ahead of myself and Richard as I take forever to get my photos. She calls out excitedly as she has found Rufous type greenhoods in various stages of growth, but not flowering. We quickly catchup and there are a few, so I had to grab some shots.
Again, whilst I’m taking photos Deb moves ahead and this time finds some spider orchids. From the creamy yellow colouring I believe these first orchids to be the Chameleon spider orchid (Caladenia dimidia) which flowers from July to September over an inland range, Paynes Find to Norseman.
Easier ones to identify are found next. With the Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata) being first. This is a monotypic genus, so is the only species of its type. They flower August and September over a large area, Israelite Bay to Paynes Find.
Then a different type of spider orchid is found. The unusual Ant orchid (Caladenia roei)is found a couple of times. This little guy flowers from August to October, again over a large range, Eurardy Station to Norseman.
Next up a change in colour is found. The Dainty blue orchid (Cyanicula amplexans) also flowers August to October, over an inland range, Nerren Nerren Station to Norseman. They are also found in pure white form on rare occasions.
Another bright colour is sighted. The Pink candy orchid (Caladenia hirta subsp. rosea) ranges from near white to vivid pink in colour and flowers from late June through to September. They range from Kalbarri to Israelite Bay and occur further inland than the related Candy orchid.
Many more spider orchids were found, with the identification proving difficult. Some have long thin leaves, others are short and thin, whilst others are shortish and wide. Flower colours range from white to cream to pale yellow. Labellum width and markings are also varied between flowers. Many are possibly more Chameleon spider orchids as this species has variable-coloured flowers. Then possible Ironcaps and Glistening spider orchids are found. If you can assist with identification, please make comment.
Some of the orchids were definite Glistening spider orchids (Caladenia incensum) as they have broad, squat white calli and broad leaves. These orchids flower from late June right through to September over an inland range, Hyden to Nerren Nerren Station, which is north of the Murchison River.
Before reaching the road where we decide to head back due to the persistent drizzle, we find another species of orchid. The yellow donkey orchids jump out at us from the dull green, grey foliage. I feel this could be the Mottled donkey orchid (Diuris suffusa) which flowers during August and September in the recorded range, Wongan Hills to Kellerberrin. Our location is some 90kms east of the recorded range so if this ID is incorrect, please let me know.
Walking back along the road we spy more orchids, but as the rain is getting heavier, we do not stop to take any more photos. We enjoy our first night at the Westonia Caravan Park and make use of the campers’ kitchen. Let see what tomorrow brings.
First an update on our travels. 01/08 we have an early breakfast at the Three Springs Motel then hit the road for Geraldton, where Richard needs to visit a dentist, about a tooth he broke eating a nut bar. It was a very windy day with a massive cold front bearing down on the coast. Due to this we decide to book into another hotel, this time the Abrolhos Reef Lodge. As Richard attended his dentist, Deb and I went shopping at Coles, had lunch then waited out a massive downpour before making our way to our accommodation for the night. We ate dinner across the highway at the Tarcoola Tavern which is located in the Geraldton Motor Inn complex. Doggy bag of left-over pizza and some drinks are taken back to our lodge, where we sort out where to next, as the weather is too extreme for us to think about camping at Kalbarri. Unusually we can’t agree, so decide to wing it tomorrow. .
02/08 We grab breakfast from our campers, eat, pack up and head off. First up we visit the HMAS Sydney II Memorial which we found amazing and emotional at the same time. Of course, it rained whist visiting this outside memorial. Next up we checked out the windblown beach at storm tide, which only confirms our decision not to camp at Kalbarri, which is only 120 or kms north of here, as the crow flies. Leaving Geraldton, we head north to Northampton, which still shows the scares of a cyclone a few years back. This confirms tradesmen are still in short supply all over the country.
About 15mins north of Northampton, we pull into a parking bay where I take the opportunity to look in some scrub for any orchids. To my surprise some Kalbarri cowslip orchids (Caladenia flava subsp. maculata) are found. This subspecies is said to be found from Shark Bay to Perenjori and is usually marked with distinctive spots. Spent greenhoods and yet to flower spider orchids are also discovered but no photos taken.
Time to move on as we want to get a far north as possible to escape the storm front crossing the coast. A few kms north of the Kalbarri turn-off, we pull into a picnic/camping area alongside the Murchison River. Here we enjoy a lunch of left-over pizza and sandwiches. Too early to camp up so further north we venture. At the Overlander Roadhouse I look into camping options on google as we have reception. I put it to the others that we venture a few kms towards Shark Bay and stay at Hamelin Station which is a property owned by Bush Heritage, of which I am a member. Even though I am unable to contact them to book a site we venture in with the hope they will have room. Luck is on our side, as we book in for 2 nights. We settle in and finish the day with a walk along one of their trails.
Only 1 species of orchid found today and as we are near the end of the line for Southwest orchids it will likely be many days before venture into known habitat. I will pick up the trip from our next orchid encounter with a brief narrative of our travels in between.
This year on our road trip we are heading to Mt Augustus which will take us out of orchid territory, so the days spent orchid hunting will be limited. I will only be posting about the days spent orchid hunting with the rest of the trip summarised at the beginning of the next orchid post.
6.30pm on the 29/07/2022, we head off for our next road trip adventure. We arrive a Geoff and Robyn’s place in Dwellingup around 2.30am for our overnight stay. Next day after a leisurely breakfast we head down to Mandurah to catchup with Sheena, a friend who is over from Scotland. Our old Murray Districts Rural Youth group used this event as a reunion of sorts, so we caught up with old friends and relatives from our younger days, which was awesome. After a wonderful lunch we said our goodbyes and headed up to Perth. We caught up with our daughter and got to cuddle our beautiful granddaughter again. We then moved on to the in-laws where we had dinner and stayed the night.
Sunday and it’s time to head north with our travelling companion Richard. After fuelling up we pull over at our first orchid stop for the day, Bindoon Hill TruckBay/Bus Stop. (Mud Map N 46) This was a previous stop that we camped overnight at, which looking around now, that seemed an interesting choice. We had a quick scout around the area on both sides of the highway and we actually found orchids.
The first orchids found for the trip, are the always reliable Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) which flower from April through to September. Also found growing in the weeds were brightly coloured donkey orchids. Identification is difficult with 2 species that are known to occur in the Shire of Chittering being contenders. So, they are either the Winter donkey orchid (Diuris brumalis) or the Common donkey orchid (Diuris corymbosa). I’ll let you be the judge.
Moving on further north, I use Google Maps to spy a possible new location. We miss the turnoff so do a U-turn to pull off the road. We venture into Udumung Nature Reserve for our first every search. We are not disappointed. First up are some more donkey orchids. This time I am more certain of the species due to the reflexed lateral sepals. The Common donkey orchid is noted as sometimes having reflexed and often crossed lateral sepals.
Next up in close succession three different Pterostylis species are found. First up the Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) is found, followed by the Banded greenhood and lastly the Broad-petaled snail orchid (Pterostylis platypetala). This is my first time recording this snail orchid which occurs between Kalbarri and Brookton. It flowers during the months, June through August, in woodland and on the margins of seasonally wet flats and streams.
Moving into the bush further we come across further Pterostylis orchids. First up are bird orchids then another greenhood. Using Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) as reference, the bird orchid will be listed as the Dwarf bird orchid (Pterostylis galgula), which is listed as flowering in August/September between Northampton and Munglinup. The greenhood looks like a Dark banded greenhood (Pterostylis sanguinea) and is listed on the ALA site as occurring here, however in Florabase within the Shire of Chittering a similar looking species, the Coastal banded greenhood (Pterostylis orbiculata) is listed. What are your thoughts on the ID as both flower during the months of July and August.
It is now after 1.30pm, so we decide to move on. A little further north we turn right and head into Mogumber. Not much to be seen here, so we head north up the Bindoon-Moora Road. The planned stop at the nature reserve is abandoned as it does not extend to the road, so we pull over at the intersection of Gillingarra Road, as there was some scrubland that may present a possible orchid habitat. I crossed the railway line on the north side of the road whilst Deb ventured down a track on the southside, parallel to the railway line. I only discovered orchid leaves so headed back to see how Deb faired. By the time I found her, Richard was with her, and she was successful in finding our first spider orchid of the trip. The Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians) is a white to creamy-white orchid, which flowers from July to October over a vast area, Kalbarri to Esperance.
Along with the many spiders were a few Cowslip orchids (Caladenia flava subsp. flava), Common donkey orchids and another uncertain type of banded greenhood. It’s now nearly 2.30pm, so off we head further north.
We drive through Moora and head up towards Coorow. Just south of Coorow we pull over at Marchagee Nature Reserve for a very quick check, as we are now needing to work out where we will stay the night. Only found another unknown banded greenhood orchid. A storm appears to be building, so I start checking google for somewhere to stay. I telephone up the Three Springs Motel, who luckily have room for the 3 of us. It is only donga accommodation but they serve up some mean food and it was BYO, so I enjoyed my Bundy.
Solo again as Deb is still in Perth with Ollie visiting relatives and having a ball. So, after enjoying a sleep in, I have breakfast, do some washing, then pack up and head off for an exploration northeast of Esperance. First stop is on Wittenoom Road at our usual spot. I immediately check out where the spider orchids flower and was shocked to see the area had been pushed up to increase the space. There was only one small Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila) in flower, with no others found, not even leaves.
Then I wander around the site, plus also across the road and not too much is flowering. I find some very small donkey orchids which I am not confident to name. Then of course I find the Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata)and Dark banded greenhood (Pterostylis sanguinea) growing under the scrub.
And the final orchid found at this location was the small Brittle snail orchid (Pterostylis timothyi) which was hard to photograph due to the wind. So I will post a video of it instead.
Time to move on, but only as far as Scaddan Road, where I pull into a section of reclaimed scrub to see if there is anything flowering. Only found a single greenhood growing as well as some more snail orchids. Both named previously.
Past lunch time, so I head off to Mount Burdett, which is located in the aptly named Mount Burdett Nature Reserve. I parked up halfway as the track is badly washed out, however the view was still great whilst eating my nuts and drinking my coffee. I then walk up the last of the track and first up come across some more snail orchids, but this time they are growing in lush green moss.
Then I hit the usual rock edge where we find most of the orchids on the previous visits. This time however all I find are the faithful Banded greenhoods. This is looking poor, however I push further along the base and come across what appears to be a great patch of non-flowering Pink bunny orchid leaves. Could not see anything flowering though. Just as I was about to head up the hill, I stumble across a small patch of Robust snail orchids (Pterostylis dilatata) which is one of the larger snail orchids and it does not have a rosette, which is quite unique.
Climbing up I come across the Dark banded greenhood again plus a patch of Caladenia leaves. Then found some Hare orchids (Leporella fimbriata) which were in a reasonable state given the listed flowering period is March to June.
Further towards to summit I reach the access track which is very rough and would be a test for your 4WD. At the first turnaround area I discover some further Brittle snail orchids. Then finally at the summit clearing I find a few Green-veined shell orchids (Pterostylis scabra), with only one fully formed. These are a widespread orchid, being found from Kalbarri to Esperance. After taking some pics, I have a quick search for any donkey orchids in flower, but alas none were found. So, it’s back down I head.
Nothing more really comes to my attention before making it back to the Triton. So back to Norwood Road, where I turn right. On the left side of the road, it had been burnt out, so I pull alongside the road, park up, then venture into the blackened scrub. After walking around for about 15 mins, with not an orchid in sight, I despondently jump back into the Triton and head toward Dempster Road. Just before the intersection of the roads, I pull into a layby, which is actually the boundary of the Mount Ridley Nature Reserve. Mount Ridley though is actually some 20kms to the north and is not included in a reserve, which I find bizarre. I decided to check out the reserve bush first, but didn’t get very far in, as it was fairly thick. I did however find some small greenhoods, one of which may be the Midget greenhood (Pterostylis mutica), which commences it’s flowering in July. The I checked out the other side of the road but again, no orchids found. Then just before I reach the Triton, I notice some very spent Pygmy orchid (Corunastylis fuscoviridis), so had to grab a pic for recording purposes.
Moving on, I turn left onto Dempster Road and head south toward Fisheries Road. This part of the road is another boundary of the Nature Reserve, so when another layby catches my eye, I do a U-turn and park up for my final exploration of the day. It is getting dark pretty quickly, but I notice some Dark banded greenhoods and grab some pics, then come across some small rosettes with 3 little buds growing from the bare earth in between. Due to this they are going to be some Shell orchids. I take a pic for record purposes, then make a beeline for the Triton.
Then out of nowhere, hiding under a small bush, a large patch of Dwarf shell orchids (Pterostylis brevichila) catches my eye. Now this is an awesome last find for the day. These wonderful orchids are found from Hyden to Mt Ragged, growing in eucalyptus woodlands. The rosette is listed as being compact with rounded leaves, which confirms the buds found earlier will be more of these.
Time to head home as the light is fading fast, however I pull over to grab a shot of the sunset over one of the many clay pans in the area. Amazing day with 2 species of Shell orchids being found together with other Pterostylis species, A sole Wispy spider orchid represents the Caladenia genus and spent Pygmy and Hare orchids close out the list. Winter is moving on slowly, so we can look forward to more orchids flowering in the weeks to come.
So, we awake in Yealering on the Sunday after enjoying the Regatta on the lake the previous day. We are in the local caravan park with friends Sandy, Noel and Richard. After breakfast we all pack up our respective campers and make our separate way home. For us this will be an excuse to go orchid hunting. Fancy that!!!
I do not have a record in my little black book, and I am writing this record more than 12mths after the fact, so my memory fails me. So, this record will record locations and finds only, with no commentary, which some may find refreshing.
Green spider orchid
200 – 400mm in height
Flowers – Late Aug to Oct
Location – Wongan Hills to Jerramungup
Granite sun orchid
100 – 350mm in height
Flowers – Aug to Nov
Location – Mullewa to South Australia
Small flowered donkey orchid
150 – 350mm in height
Flowers – Late July – Sept
Location – Moora to Albany
100-180mm in height
Flowers – Oct to Jan
Location – Kalbarri to Grasspatch
EIGHTY SIX GATE ROAD – UNNAMED NATURE RESERVE
Little laughing leek orchid
60 – 200mm in height
Flowers – Jul to Oct
Location – Shark Bay to Eyre
Granite sun orchid
Leaf – Narrow, 4-6mm in width
Colour – Blue, purple or pink
(Caladenia flava subsp. flava)
100 – 250mm in height
Flowers – Jul to early Dec
Location – Geraldton to Israelite Bay
Green spider orchid
Another common name – Fringed mantis orchid
Leaf – Single, erect, hairy leaf 100-200mm in length
Habitat – In the north sandy soils over sandstone, In the south soil pockets on granite
Leaf – Fleshy, green and red infused leaf, which is shriveled at time of flowering
Blue china orchid
40 – 150mm in height
Flowers – Aug to early Nov
Location – Kalbarri and Israelite Bay
Harrismith / Dudinin area
Granite sun orchid
Green spider orchid
Shy sun orchid
150 – 350mm in height
Flowers – Oct to Nov
Location – Perth to Esperance
Little laughingleek orchid
Common mignonette orchid
(Microtis media subsp. media)
Small mantis orchid
(Caladenia attingens subsp. gracillima)
170 – 350mm in height
Flowers – Aug to early Oct
Location – Jerramungup to Israelite Bay
Little laughing leek orchid
You can tell we are moving into the last few months of the Western Australian orchid season as we only located 9 species over multiple inland locations. The Southwest corner has a much longer season than both the inland and Southeastern areas.
Well, what else do you do on a RDO in spring but go Orchid Hunting. Today we head out east of Esperance in the hope of finding some different species to those found around the lakes and at Helms Arboretum last weekend.
First up we head past Condingup and head north up Parmango Road. At our usual location we slowly drive in, hanging out the windows looking for orchids, then park up and head further in on foot.
At the clearing where we park up, we are surprised to find the beautiful Custard orchid (Thelymitra villosa). This striking orchid flowers during the spring months, over a large range from Northampton to Israelite Bay. It is known to have up to 20 flowers per plant.
Located very close by is the glistening Purple enamel orchid (Elythranthera brunonis). This sun loving orchid flowers from August to early November over a similar range, Kalbarri to Israelite Bay.
Time to head off on foot as you do find more orchids this way. Backtracking toward Parmango Road first though as Deb spied a bird orchid on the drive in. Only one specimen found and appears to be the Bearded bird orchid (Pterostylis turfosa) as the species named Esperance bird orchid was included as an eastern variety of P. turfosa.
Also found here was a smaller yellow orchid. The Bee orchid (Diuris laxiflora) also flowers during the spring months, though only flowers as far northwest as Gingin from Esperance.
Finally, we head west along the track. A single, solitary Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora) is found. No others were found along this track today. The prominently clubbed sepals allowed me to ID it, as the similarly located and similarly featured Heberle’s spider orchid causes no end of confusion, when trying to ID these king type spider orchids.
Another small yellow orchid catches our eye. The tiny Twisted sun orchid (Thelymitra flexuosa), is so named due to a distinctive zig-zagged flower stem. The flowers themselves are listed as being 12 – 15mm across which is smaller than a 5c piece. We have only found this species a couple times before, so this is an exciting find.
Amazingly the next orchid is also yellow in colour. The more common Lemon-scented sun orchid (Thelymitra antennifera) which is so named due to the antennae like structures to the column. These orchids flower as far north as Shark Bay from Israelite Bay to our east.
Finally, an orchid that is not yellow in colour. The striking Common mignonette orchid (Microtis media subsp.media) can stand up to 600mm in height and can have up to 100 yellowish-green flowers per plant. Each flower is miniscule being only 2-3mm across.
The surprise find for the day was a solitary hammer orchid, which is well and truly fertilised and slowly shriveling up. The only recorded hammer orchid in the Shire of Esperance is the King-in-his-carriage (Drakaea glyptodon). The distinctly pouched labellum is not apparent, though it may have just shrivelled away.
Another single specimen found. Hiding in a bush the Shy sun orchid (Thelymitra graminea)is living up to its common name. There are four visually similar blue sun orchids flowering in the Esperance district so my identification may be incorrect, so please feel free to enlighten me.
Next up is an orchid that apparently smells bad. As they are so small and close to the ground, I have never put that to the sniff. The White fairy orchid (Caladenia marginata) is an orchid that is stimulated by fire and is usually found around granite outcrops. That is the case for our nearby Cape Le Grand rock location, however no visible granite at this location.
Another sun orchid is found in the old damp gravel pit area, however due to the deep cleft in the mid-lobe of the column I believe it to be the Slender sun orchid (Thelymitra vulgaris). They are one of the weird self-pollinating orchids, as are the Twisted sun orchids.
Next up is a mutated orchid I believe. It appears to be a Lemon-scented sun orchid however it does not have a normal looking column. I would love to have your thoughts on this unusual specimen.
Another amazing orchid is found poking up through the undergrowth. Rattle beaks (Lyperanthus serratus) in its dull green and maroon colourings is a beautiful orchid. They may have up to 10 flowers per plant and can reach heights of 500mm. They have a distinctive leaf which we regularly find prior to the flowering season but feel blessed when we find one flowering.
In the gravelly or rocky wet area, we were staggered to find the Pointing spider orchid (Caladenia exstans). We had previously found this orchid at Thomas River and Dempster Head which are in listed habitat of near coastal granite. We are around 25kms from the coast with no apparent granite so did not expect to find these orchids here. Actually, we have also found them at Boyatup which is a similar distance inland but also has granite everywhere.
Further orchids were found but not great photos taken so will record them here and put up the best photo I have of them. Zebra orchid (Caladenia cairnsiana) in a nice bright red form. Dancing spider orchid (Caladenia discoidea) in washed out colours plus the Laughing leek orchid (Prasophyllum macrostachyum) with its beautiful red lined sepals and petals.
Well, this track walked along proved a great spot with many species found. We can’t linger at one place too long so back to the Triton we trudge and onward to our next location.
We pull into Beaumont Nature Reserve which is little further north along Parmango Road. Here we again make our way on foot as the track is too tight and will scratch the crap out of the Triton. It is not long before we find our first orchid. Interestingly it is another Rattle Beaks, closely followed by more Zebra orchids and Bee orchids
Walking further along the track we find other previously found orchids. This time another Purple enamel orchid appears shining in some brief sunlight, further Common mignonette orchids stand tall and yellow Lemon-scented sun orchids are visible against the drying foliage.
Next up the blue sun orchids start to appear in numbers. From the thin leaf I believe they are further Shy sun orchids and another Slender sun orchid is found, with its deeply clefted column mid lobe. Maybe we will find something new here the further we venture in.
And guess what? We did find something new for the day. From what I can tell this spider orchid appears to be a Hybrid but could also just be a pale coloured Esperance king spider. What are your thoughts?
Another yellow orchid is found, and it is amazing it has taken this long to find the very widespread common Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava). These orchids vary greatly in the brightness of their yellow and the patterns of their markings.
The next orchid found is confusing as the location would lead the ID to be the Short sepaled spider orchid (Caladenia brevisura), however a lack of clubbing to the lateral sepals seems to indicate the Ant orchid (C. roei)may be the correct ID, but these orchids only go as far East as Ravensthorpe. However, my iNaturalist record has confirmed the first choice.
A new colour for the day appears in the undergrowth. The Pink candy orchid (Caladenia hirta subsp. rosea) is an unexpected find. They are however listed as occurring as far east as Israelite Bay, so should not be a surprise. The pink colouration is varied from very pale pink, almost white to vivid pink.
Talking about a splash of yellow. We have finally reached the granite area with a stream running through it and there is a good number of orchids flowering here. A standout is a great clump of the Elegant donkey orchid (Diuris concinna) which is bright yellow with some small brown markings. This is the best bunch I’ve ever seen.
Flowering nearby was the closely related Common bee orchid (Diuris decrementa) which is known to grow on shallow soil on granite outcrops. They were found in large numbers the more we ventured.
As pictured above with the bee orchids was the small Swamp mignonette orchid (Microtis atrata) which as the name suggests are found in seasonally wet flats and run-off areas around granite outcrops. They are only 40 to 80mm in height.
Other orchids were found growing on the shallow soil surrounding the granite, including Rabbit orchids (Leptoceras menziesii) and Lemon-scented sun orchids. Rabbit orchids have ear-like petals that provide the common name and very forward projecting lateral sepals.
Plus of course granite loving orchids are also found. The Granite sun orchid (Thelymitra petrophila) is an inland occurring orchid that flowers from August to November, however, the Coastal sun orchid (Thelymitra granitora) is also recorded as being found on inland granite outcrops northeast of Esperance and flowers during August and September. I think we have found both as the Coastal sun orchid is said to have a fleshy flower stem and the photos do seem to show one with a thicker stem.
Other orchids found in the woodlands and on the granite were more Common mignonette orchids and Shy sun orchids.
The most exciting find at this location was the hybrid of the Lemon-scented sun orchid and one of the blue sun orchids. This hybrid is a wonderful pinkish tone with bright yellow antennae. (Thelymitra x)
What a great location this has turned out to be, however, we decide to move on. Next stop is Condingup Hill. (Mud Map SE39) We had barely turned off Fisheries Road when the first orchids are seen. The common Purple enamel orchid comes in first place for this location, closely followed by the small Twisted sun orchid.
Next up a king type spider orchid is found. However, I have no idea if it is an Esperance king, Heberle’s or a hybrid. Both the aforementioned species have spreading petals/sepals and with this specimen they are hanging. They appear to be clubbed and particularly thin when compared to the large labellum. Ideas on ID welcome.
Higher up the track at the swampy flat area we find some more Swamp mignonette orchids and a Lemon-scented sun orchid.
At the corner, underneath a bush we are happy to find the Bearded bird orchid in flower. Actually, there is more than one in flower which is great.
We choose not the check out the lookout or Telstra tower area, so we drive back down and look along Fisheries Road just before the Condingup townsite sign. As expected, we locate some Esperance white spider orchids (Caladenia longicauda subsp. crassa) growing in the swampy ground.
The only other orchids found flowering here were some Purple enamel orchids. So, we grab some quick snaps then jump back into the Triton and head west.
We turn into Ridgelands Road and head north. Stopping at a patch of non-farmland we venture down into what appears to be an area leading to a swamp/lake. The ground is covered in dry leaf litter but growing here and there are some tall sun orchids. Most likely Shy sun orchids again due to location and thickness of the leaf.
Moving to the other side of the road, it is apparent the vegetation is different and straight away we find some Esperance white spider orchids.
Another, Caladenia species found which occurs between Ravensthorpe and Israelite Bay is the Short sepaled spider orchid. This small spider orchid is distinguished by its south easterly location and short sepal tips which are clubbed. At least these ones have clubs unlike the one found earlier today. There colouring varies considerably from dark red to light green.
Other orchids found include the ever-reliable Cowslip orchid, more Purple enamel orchids, a patch of Elegant donkey orchids and the Common mignonette orchid.
After 4pm, so time to make tracks home. At least 27 orchid species found with a hybrid or 2 thrown in. One last picture to post of a herd of Zebras coz I like it. No other reason!!
Well, after yesterday spending some time looking for orchids near our coastal lakes, it was inevitable that we would venture out to Helm’s Arboretum (Helm’s Forestry Reserve) to check out what is still flowering in this amazing location. (Mud Map SE35)
We do not have to venture far before we stumble across some orchid beauty. In the section near the entrance, we find the following orchids:
Common bee orchid (Diuris decrementa)
Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora)
Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp.flava)
Common mignonette orchid (Microtis media)
Shy sun orchid (Thelymitra graminea)
Time is a moving and so must we, so onwards into the Arboretum we go. At the first road to the right, we turn off and slowly drive along looking out the windows. As soon as we spy something new, we pull over for a closer inspection. Along this track we find the following different orchids:
Little pink fairies (Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans)
Un-named Hybrid orchid (Caladenia flava x C. reptans)
Pink fairies (Caladenia latifolia)
Lemon-scented sun orchid (Thelymitra antennifera)
Moving further into the Arboretum we stop at a specific spot to find the Rattle beaks and we are not disappointed. Other orchids our found across the track from the Rattle beaks.
Rattle beaks (Lyperanthus serratus)
Small mantis orchid (Caladenia attingens subsp. gracillima)
Purple enamel orchid (Elythranthera brunonis)
Heberle’s spider orchid (Caladenia heberleana)
Now to check out some further areas of this large reserve. We come across some more varied spider and sun orchids which may be different species, hybrids or just colour variants. Other orchids new for the day were also found and I will list these first.
Red beaks (Pyrorchis nigricans)
Zebra orchid (Caladenia cairnsiana)
Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians)
Esperance white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. crassa)
Now for pics of the varied spider and sun orchids found.