13/09/2020 ….. Ravensthorpe Wildflower Show

Cocanarup Timber Reserve, Weekend away, Western Australian orchids

After spending a wonderful weekend with good friends, Warren and Tammy in Hopetoun, we venture north to Ravensthorpe as they are having their annual Wildflower Show, which we have not been to in the 20 years we have lived in Esperance.

The display of wildflowers in the shire hall was amazing so we took a few pics of the orchids they had on display. We then sat down for a cuppa, with scones, jam and cream before making our way to the local lolly shop, Yummylicious Candy Shack for an icecream. No ginger this time though 😦 so I chose macadamia then also purchased a small bag of mixed lollies. It is here we say goodbye to our friends as they head home to Esperance, as we have orchids to find.

So where do we go first, given we are already 185km east of home. You guessed it, another 15kms east to Kukenarup Memorial. As the picnic shelter is already occupied we head straight for the walk trail and immediately find some Lemon-scented sun orchids (Thelymitra antennifera) in bloom. These are by far the most widespread of the yellow sun orchids, as they occur on a line from Shark Bay to Israelite Bay and everywhere south of that line. The dark column lobes are a distinctive feature which also alludes to the Latin name: antennae, to bear .

Very close by another bright orchid of a different colour catches our eye. The Purple enamel orchid (Elythranthera brunonis) glistens in the bright sunshine.

Deb discovers a blue orchid and initially thought it would be a Blue beard however on closer inspection it was an orchid not found at this location before, which is exciting. It is a Blue china orchid (Cyanicula gemmata) which is quite widespread, ranging from Israelite Bay to Kalbarri.

I had just finished saying to Deb how it would be nice to find the Dragon orchids that were at the Wildflower Show, when what do we spy but a Common dragon orchid (Caladenia barbarossa) swaying in the breeze.

Right next door to the lone Dragon orchid we also find a lone Small mantis orchid (Caladenia attingens susp. gracillima) which is smaller than the related Fringed mantis orchid, which can also be found around Ravensthorpe. The labellum calli extend onto the red tip of the labellum, which is another distinguishing feature when comparing the two.

Making our way back to the walk track, as we have detoured a bit towards the Hwy, we come across another type of orchid. This little one appears to be the Short-sepaled spider orchid (Caladenia brevisura) due to the shortly clubbed later sepals and south-easterly location. The only other possibility is the Purple-veined spider orchid, which is pictured earlier at the wildflower Show, and the length of the sepals is definitely a distinctive feature of both types.

Towards the end of the walk trail we discover many more Lemon-scented sun orchids growing under the protection of bushes and also out on the granite growing in the Resurrection bushes.

Right at the end of the trail some Frog greenhoods (Pterostlyis sargentii) are found growing in the Resurrection bushes as well. These are a common inland greenhood growing between Northampton and Grasspatch.

We decide to go down south of the picnic shelter to see if we can locate the Red beaks we had found on previous years. Nothing at all found other than a small spent spider orchid on the edge of a track. We decide to walk along this track which heads west, toward the Phillips River. We are expanding this location as we have never ventured along this track before.

Interestingly, the first orchid found is the common Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava sp. flava) which is unusual in that no others have been found today. One flower, 3 images.

Further along the track are some more Dragon and Purple enamel orchids.

Then on the south side of the track we stumble across some scattered Red beaks (Pyrorchis nigricans) growing in the white sand. An unusual find, given the area does not appear to have been burnt recently.

Then hiding under a bush is the smallest Blue china orchid I had ever seen. Actually looking at the labellum it appears to be a Granite china orchid (Cyanicula nikulinskyae) as it is also much paler than the typical Blue china orchid which was found earlier today.

After walking this track for about 30mins it seemed to go on forever, so we turned north to make our way back to the picnic area. Pushing up a rise we find many more Small mantis orchids as well as many Jug orchids (Petrostylis recurva), however most were finished for the season, though we took a photo just as a record.

We have now returned close to the Hwy so head west towards the picnic area. Not much found until Deb excitedly comes across a beautiful leek orchid. I believe it to be the Frilled leek orchid (Prasophyllum sargentii) which grows in sandy soils from Kalbarri to Israelite Bay during August to October.

We make it back to the picnic shelter and right there in the shade of the taller shrubs is a patch of Common dragon orchids. Photos taken but no decent ones so will not post any, however the short video seems decent enough to post.

Needing food we head off east past Ravensthorpe and onto Munglinup Roadhouse to get another burger, as they were awesome last time. Much busier today so the wait will be longer, so Deb suggests I go exploring nearby for any orchids.

Great idea my wonderful wife had. I ventured over the road to the east and immediately spied yellow flowers that looked promising. The bright and beautiful Cowslips are flowering as are the Lemon-scented sun orchids. Also a red coloured Small mantis orchid and the usual greener ones are found together with some Purple enamel orchids.

To top off this location I found three different species of white spider orchids. First up is the Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians), followed by an Esperance white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda susp. crassa) then finally a small orchid I cannot Identify. Any help with this is appreciated.

Back to the roadhouse I go and we enjoy eating the awesome burgers before we head off to our next location. We plan to visit the spot on Boydell Road where we had seen possible hammer orchid leaves on a previous visit. I am driving and we go past the spot and travel some 20 kms before realising. We turn around and locate our marker and pull into a farmers gate leeway as we are only in the Ford, so no 4WD capability to park off the road.

Whilst we start our search on the north of the road the farmer comes to check on what we are up to. They check our car, drive up and down the road a bit then obviously decide we are not a threat and leave us be. Unfortunately the leaves we planned to check out had not produced any flowers and were dying off, however we did locate some other orchids. First up was a beautiful pair of Heberle’s spider orchid (Caladenia heberleana) which occur from Augusta to Cape Arid during September and October. The long clubbed sections of the sepals and having clubbed petals are distinguishing features. Other specimens are also found upon further searching.

Other orchids were found as well. Red beaks were found, which confirms rare individuals will flower without a need for a recent bushfire. Purple enamel orchids and Dancing spider orchids (Caladenia discoidea) round off the day. A funky name however, it is derived from the Latin discoideus alluding to the rounded shape of the labellum.

It is now just after 5pm so we had better make tracks for home. As we are closer to the Cascade Road intersection than we first thought we decide to take it back down to the hwy as it is a sealed road.

A great day orchid hunting, to finish off a great weekend. Ravensthorpe Wildflower Show provided us with the nudge to explore the area and we were rewarded with at least 16 different orchid species.

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.

19/07/2020 ….. Cascade Calling

Cascade NR, Day Trip, Western Australian orchids

My sister, Lorraine and her hubby Ken are visiting us for a few days, so today we head out west to Cascade Falls. We are joined by our son Jace and his little family. The water is flowing nicely now it’s mid winter. The grandkids enjoy playing with all the foam caused by the water cascading over the granite rocks. After exploring the shore we set up on a flat area for a picnic lunch.

The little family head home whilst us oldies head off further west on an orchid hunt. This is a first for Lorraine and Ken, so let’s hope we have a successful hunt. We visit Cascade Nature Reserve and go for a check in the scrub/woodlands. With luck I come across some Dwarf shell orchids (Pterostylis brevichila), which we had found here previously. Not as many but still very happy to find them again. Dwarf shell orchids flower during the months of July, August and September over inland areas between Hyden and Mt Ragged.

As the image above shows we also find the Midget greenhood (Pterostylis mutica) which flowers from July till October over a much larger range, Wongan Hills to the South Australian Border. If fact they are also found in all the states of Australia. Another larger specimen was found further into our hunt.

Not much else turning up so we decide to head back to the Triton and stumble across one nice Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) growing on the edge of the utilities track we are following.

Leaving Cascade Nature Reserve we head back east and stop along Boydell Road. In the road side scrub we locate some donkey orchids. They appear to be the Green Range donkey orchid (Diuris littoralis) which occurs in coastal and near coastal locations between Denmark and Esperance. They flower from July to early September and were only formally named in 2016 from specimens collected in 1995.

Not much else found so we head across the Coolgardie – Esperance Hwy and head into Neridup. Here we visit our favourite blue metal dump site and as we arrive I jump out to walk along the track in to see what I can find. The others drive in ,park up and get out stuff for afternoon tea. I discover some Brittle snail orchids (Pterostylis timothyi) growing in the gravelly mounds pushed up to create the blue metal dump. These awesome little orchids flower from July to September over an eastern range of Lake Cronin to Esperance. The prominently veined , pointed leaves of the rosette is a distinctive feature of these orchids.

Also on the edge of the cleared area in a slight depression, the spider orchids we found last year were again located. The Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila) flowers from July to early October and has an eastern distribution from Kondinin to Madura.

After enjoying afternoon tea we spread out and immediately find some more donkey orchids. They appear to be more Green Range donkey orchids, as the only similarly coloured donkey orchid found this far east is the Yellow granite donkey orchid. However we are not near any granite.

We now cross over Wittenoom Road and come across some Green-veined shell orchids (Pterostylis scabra) near a small, currently dry, road run-off trench. These orchids flower from May to August over a large mostly inland area from Kalbarri to Esperance. Unlike the Dwarf shell orchid found at Cascade this shell orchid has it’s labellum visible. A little like poking out their tongues.

Getting late in the afternoon and the sun sets early in winter, so we start to make our way back to the Trition. Along the way we find another colourful Donkey orchid, some more Brittle snail orchids and a small speck of blue. Blue beards (Pheladenia deformis) in bud but not yet open are found. So as the season moves on, so must we as we have a date around the fire pit at home will all our travelling companions from today.

A great family picnic followed by a successful orchid hunt. Not too bad for a Sunday in mid winter.

12/07/2020 ….. Helms in July

Esperance, Helms Arboretum, Western Australian orchids

What better way to spend an hour or so on a Sunday that to check out Helms Arboretum (Mud Map SE 35) for any orchids that may be flowering. Before the search though we stock up on energy by having a cooked breakfast at the Esperance Bird and Animal Park.

The first orchid found was the ever reliable Banded Greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) which occurs over a lengthy period (April to Sept) over a wide distribution (Perth to Balladonia). Fairly coastal east of Albany, whilst further inland it is replaced by either the Dark Banded Greenhood or recently named Mallee Banded Greenhood. In fact the distributions of these orchids overlap in places, as confirmed by finding a small Mallee Banded Greenhood (Pterostylis arbuscula) at Helms. These orchids are recorded as growing between Northampton and Eyre during the season June to September, over mainly inland locations.

Moving on to another section of the Arboretum we come across Snail orchids in varying stages of flowering. Naming Snail orchids is always difficult especially when some found in previous years at Helms have remained un-named. The pictures below I feel are of two different species. One is the common Hairy-stemmed snail orchid (Pterostylis setulosa) which flowers from June to September over a large range between Kalbarri and Balladonia. The other smaller snail orchid has, shorter lateral sepals, only 2 stem leaves, a rosette of quite rounded leaves plus does not have a hairy stem. It will remain un-named again this year.

Well not much happening at Helms this time. I trust we will visit again sometime this season and I look forward to a greater variety of orchids. Until next time!!!

11/07/2020 ….. Quick check at Dempster Head

Dempster Head, Esperance

Time to visit one of our regular haunts. Dempster Head, sometimes referred to as Rotary Lookout, which is an Esperance Shire Reserve that aims to protect a granite headland. As you can imagine the views from the lookout provide a 360 degree view of the Esperance town, bay and beaches.

We however check out some of the areas off the beaten track, so to speak, and are usually rewarded with orchids. Today proves no exception. We head to where we have found Corybas leaves in previous years. We hope they are flowering as their recorded season is July to early September. We find the leaves as expected and they are in bud, which is exciting, however none in flower were found. A return visit later in the season will be required.

Next up we head back to the walk trail as we have previously found Mosquito orchids. It appears we may be too early for these as well, due to the first location only having orchids in bud as well. However at another spot on the track we find a lone orchid in flower, with 2 flowers fully developed. Mosquito orchids (Cyrtostylis robusta) flower June to August in locations between Perth and Israelite Bay and can have up to 8 flowers per orchid.

Further around the track we come across a Banded Greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) with numerous flowers. These are common orchids found from Perth to Balladonia, which flower from April to September. Also found are some Snail orchids which have yet to fully form so I will not attempt to name them at this stage.

Not a lot flowering yet, so we will need to return at a later date to see if we are more successful. Until next time !!

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.

Just before we reached the coastline another patch of snail orchids was found. These appear to be further Ravensthorpe snail orchids by their thinner lateral sepals. The bays we found on the coast were beautiful as always. It is now after 3pm so we had better make tracks home.

Backtracking the way we had come, we make a decision to head north up Fuss Road, so as to reach the Hwy sooner. Well that was the plan.

Just shy of the Hwy is the Munglinup Nature Reserve, where we find an access track that just beckoned us to stop. So parking up in an abandoned sand pit, we go on a little exploration down the track on foot. So glad we did as there on the edge of the track is a little spider orchid in bloom. The first one for the 2020 season. 🙂 The Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians) occurs between Kalbarri and Esperance, with flowering starting in July and progressing until mid-October. This was the only spider orchid found on todays adventure.

Further along the track we come across more banded greenhoods, which seem to be the orchid of the day. Again the variations make it difficult to decide if they are Dark banded, Mallee banded or just Banded.

The day however ended with discovering many donkey orchids in flower, in what appeared to be an abandoned gravel pit, that our track lead to. From the varying width of the mid lobe of their labellum we may have found two species. The South coast donkey orchid as previously found earlier today has a wide mid lobe, whilst the Green Range donkey orchid (Diuris littoralis) has a thinner mid lobe. Both species occur in coastal/near coastal locations from Denmark to Munglinup and Esperance respectively. Flowering times also overlap during the months of July and August.

Light is fading fast now, so we walk back to the Triton, enjoy a hot cuppa, then head home. The moon is already in the sky as we return to Fuss Road. Turning right onto the Hwy we head east as far as Young river where we check out a possible spot for orchids. Here we catch an amazing sunset over the river. What a great way to end a wonderful day trip searching for orchids. We are blessed.

24/06/2020 ….. Winter Wednesday Wander

Cape Arid NP, Day Trip, National Parks

I have taken an RDO today so that we can spend the day with my youngest son’s grandparents-in-law. Deb and I will be introducing them to our wonderful Western Australian orchids.

Heading out East to the farm near Condingup, we enjoy a cuppa before heading off for our day in the great outdoors. We make our way to Boyatup Hill (Mud Map SE 40) which we trust will ensure we have a variety of orchids to share with our guests.

On the track into the hill we stop at our usual first location and straight up Deb finds a spent orchid which appears to be the Scented autumn leek orchid (Prasophyllum sp. ‘early’) which flower April to June all the way East to Israelite Bay. On the other side of the track I come across a Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata) also way past it’s best. These also flower till June and extend to Israelite Bay.

Also found on the same side of the track to the Hare orchids were some Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) which are a common winter orchid flowering over a southerly range, from Perth to Balladonia. Dark variants were also found which may actually be the Mallee banded greenhood (Pterostylis arbuscula), a recently named species which occurs from Northampton to Eyre. This new species is a few flowered short statured orchid with variably coloured flowers. The lateral sepals of the Banded greenhood are not as fleshy as other greenhoods.

Deb as usual, finds the first new orchid species of the the day. The Robust snail orchid (Pterostylis dilatata) is quite unique amongst the snail orchids, as flowering plants lack a rosette of leaves. Other features include clubbed lateral sepals and an early flowering period, being May to August. They are found between Geraldton and Israelite Bay and can attain a height of 150mm.

Further afield we find another spent Leek orchid and leaves of the Thelymitra genus. Making our way into the abandon gravel pit I stumble across a speck of yellow. Excited to find the first flowering donkey orchid of the season.

I am aware of only 2 donkey orchids that flower east of Esperance. The Beautiful donkey orchid and the Green Range donkey orchid. The Beautiful donkey orchid has distinctive mauve markings and usually grows on granite outcrops so the orchid found must be the Green Range donkey orchid (Diuris littoralis). This orchid flowers from July to early September , so they must be an early risers. They are found West to Denmark in a coastal, near coastal range.

Further into the search we find some Mosquito orchids in bud, Spider orchids in bud and more donkey, leek, greenhood and robust snail orchids, in varying stages of flowering.