25/09/2020 ….. Peak Charles Long Weekend – Day 1

Esperance, Helms Arboretum, National Parks, Nature Reserves, Peak Charles NP, Red Lake Townsite NR, Weekend away, Western Australian orchids

It’s Friday before the Queens Birthday long weekend and I have taken another RDO, so as to make it extra long. A camping weekend at Peak Charles which is some 150kms or so NNW of Esperance is planned.

We pack up the Triton and camper trailer then head up to pick up Deb C. who rides shotgun with my darling Deb driving. We are taking Deb C. on her first ever trip North of Esperance. First point of call is the Esperance Bird and Animal Park for a takeaway coffee/hot chocolate and sweet slice. This was to give us energy for our first orchid hunting location, which just for a change is good old Helms Arboretum (Mud Map SE 35).

First orchids found alongside section 21, were the wonderful Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) , the Common bee orchid (Diuris decrementa) and the Lemon-scented sun orchid (Thelymitra anennifera) which are regular finds at this location. Oddly enough they are all yellow in colour.

Then just before hopping back in the Triton Deb spies a spider orchid in the overgrown Section 21, so we all go to investigate. We discover many beautiful large Esperance king spider orchids (Caladenia decora) in flower. The spreading petals that barely drop are a distinguishing feature when comparing them to the often co-located and similar Heberle’s spider orchid. Due to the lack of colour some may actually be hybrids with the Esperance white spider orchid.

Leaving Section 21 we head straight down to the track between Sections 1 and 2. Nothing much found along this track, however upon driving further we find the Rattle Beaks (Lyperanthus serratus) growing on the edge of Section 9. No longer right on the bull ants nest, thank goodness, but about 2 metres away. Only the one in flower though which was disappointing.

We then zigzagged our way through multiple sections and found many more Esperance king spider orchids and other possible hybrids. Could not resist posting more photos of these beautiful orchids.

We also came across some much smaller orchids. The Zebra orchid (Caladenia cairnsiana) for example has flowers that are only 15mm across whilst the Esperance king spider orchids can be up to 100mm.

We then checked out a patch in Section 83 to see if we could find the small spider orchids we had found in previous seasons. Prior to reaching the exact spot of the spider orchids some other orchids jump out at me. The Purple enamel orchids (Elythranthera brunonis) are so bright you cannot miss them.

And then the Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila) appears in it’s usual location. Only a small clump of 2 plants though is found this year. A a little further off the road are some more Lemon-scented sun orchids and Common bee orchids in flower.

Also discovered in in the reedy grass were some Elegant donkey orchids (Diuris concinna) which differ to the bee orchids in only having a small amount of brown markings at the base of the labellum. Coincidently, this species was named in 1991 from specimens collected at Helms Arboretum in 1985.

Walking back to the Triton we find more Esperance king spiders orchids and accompanying hybrids.

Moving up to Section 107 where we expect to find the magnificent Esperance white spider orchids (Caladenia longicauda subsp. crassa) flowering. We were not disappointed. These orchids can be larger the the Esperance king spider orchids and as mentioned previously the two hybridise with each other to form many varied coloured specimens.

Then on the edge of Section 109 we locate some more Zebra orchids. Some are not the usual colour and the lateral sepals are not clasping the stem, so may also be hybrids.

OMG it’s 12 o’clock and we are less than 20kms into our 150km drive, so we had better get a move on. Heading north on the Coolgardie-Esperance Hwy we make a pit-stop at the Grass Patch local store. Was an interesting reception, however Deb still purchased some locally made jam and relish, plus we all enjoyed an ice-cream.

Just north of Grass Patch we pull into Red Lake Townsite Nature Reserve and head down our track looking for the Frog greenhoods we have previously found here. No such luck this season however after eating our lunch and by a stroke of luck we found a lonely sun orchid just starting to bloom. As there seems to be only 2 species flowering north of Esperance I will be calling this one the Shy sun orchid (Thelymitra graminea). They flower during October and November, which would explain why we only found one starting to flower.

We finally reach the Kumarl – Lake King Rd turnoff and commence the unsealed road part of the drive to Peak Charles campground. We arrive to an all but, packed campground with only 1 uneven spot left. We decide to head head south around the rock, with the intention of finding the camping area in the Salmon Gums, however we find a track heading back towards the rock, so decide to investigate. It proves to be a dead end, however after a bit of manoeuvring we settle here as our camping spot.

We set up our camper and then the gazebo and camper stretcher for Deb C. Fire pit organised so I go for an explore up the rock. Way too steep for me in the fading light so grabbed a photo looking out over the woodlands, which I have selected as the Feature photo for this post. Time now to settle in for 3 nights camping under the stars.

Bliss!!

29/07/2020 ….. Dempster Head and Myrup

Dempster Head, Esperance, Myrup, Western Australian orchids

On my planned RDO I revisit Dempster Head (Mud Map SE 34), this time in the company of my dearest Deb, who only has the morning free, due to her night shift roster. We head off in the direction of the helmet orchids and like my last visit the snail orchids are first orchids found. ID again up in the air.

Then Deb finally gets to see the little Crystal helmet orchids (Corybas limpidus) in flower at Dempster Head. We visit two of my three known locations and capture some more photos of theses small orchids.

Also found were Mosquito orchids (Cyrtostylis robusta) in various locations along the track. I used a nearby rock once to assist with focusing, as the overcast day made focusing on these small orchids rather difficult.

Deb then finds some shell orchids in flower… So Happy as it has been a few years since we last found them on Dempster Head. The Curled-tongue shell orchid (Pterostylis rogerii) is a southern coastal shell orchid found between Binningup and Esperance. The rosettes of unflowering orchids are commonly found with only a few orchids flowering usually located. Oddly enough flowering shell orchids lack that same rosette.

A small patch of yellow catches our eye and we are rewarded with finding the Spectacled donkey orchid (Diuris conspicillata) which is geographically restricted to coastal granite outcrops near Esperance. The dark markings on the labellum lateral lobes are said to give the orchid the impression it is wearing spectacles.

After nearly 2 hours searching for orchids it time to head home so Deb can have a rest before her shift starts at 2pm.

To get the most out of my RDO, after Deb heads off to work, I decide to go check out another location close to town. We refer to this spot as our Myrup location. Parking up just after 3pm I am shocked to find that someone had decided to dump a large amount of household rubbish in the bush, rather than pay at the Shire refuse site. Some people make you shake your head in their total disrespect for the environment. To add to this horror the Shire has also graded the road verges and widened the road so a lot of gravel and destroyed vegetation has just been pushed onto the vegetated verge.

It is right on the edge of this devastation that I come across some beautiful Esperance king spider orchids (Caladenia decora) flowering in various colours. Some may actually be hybrids with the Esperance white spider orchids or similar.

Across the road I come across many more in flower, with more still to come, given they are recorded as flowering from mid-August to October.

In the middle of these large bright king orchids I come across some small white spider orchids. The Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians) is a widespread orchid occurring between Kalbarri and Esperance. These little guys were definitely dwarfed by the large Esperance king spider orchids.

A successful RDO spent searching for orchids now comes to an end. Work tomorrow 😦

26/07/2020 ….. Boyatup Bound & Beyond

Cape Arid NP, Day Trip, National Parks, Western Australian orchids

Deb arrives home from her night shift and will spend a quiet day at home, however I am taking a friend, another Deb, out East to see what our favourite locations will produce in mid Winter.

Boyatup Hill (Mud Map SE 40) is our first destination for the day. As usual we stop along the track prior to reaching the gravel pit and immediately find some spider orchids in flower. They appear to be the Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians) due to the larger labellum and less pendulous petals and sepals.

Then to confuse matters a couple of what appears to be the Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila) are located. The thinner labellum and more pendulous sepals and petals alludes to this identification.

Next up a colourful Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora) is located growing near a mound of dirt pushed up in making the gravel pit. They are one of the largest spider orchids found in Western Australia.

Another regular found out this way is the Blue beard (Pheladenia deformis) which is also commonly known as the Blue fairy orchid. The genus Pheladenia is monotypic as it contains only the one species. They come in various shades of blue and purple plus there is a white variety, which is very rare to locate.

Around the edge of the gravel pit in a damp location more spider orchids are found, of varying types and colourings.

Then growing in patches of vegetation in the gravel pit itself, donkey orchids are found in flower. Due to the colouring of the orchids found I believe them to be Green Range donkey orchids (Diuris littoralis) as they are one of only a few Diuris orchids flowering this far east.

Moving up to the track leading from the gravel pit we find the bright and colourful Reaching spider orchid (Caladenia arrecta), which is the only clubbed spider orchid found this far east. Up-swept petals are also a distinctive feature.

Moving into the burnt area, from last summer’s bush fire, we come across a couple of donkey orchids and a Blue beard.

Further along the track just past the area we used to drive up to and turn around I find some small Mosquito orchids (Cyrtostylis robusta) growing alongside the track. The large dark labellum distinguishes this orchid as Mosquito and not the related Midge.

As we plan to visit a few more locations today we make tracks back to the Triton and along the way find some clumped Blue beards and a poor Esperance king spider orchid with all his tepals nipped off.

We now move onto Thomas River in the Cape Arid National Park. After a spot of lunch at the campgrounds we head to Len Otte Nature Trail and locate some Mosquito orchids growing under the shrubs on the granite incline, which is a first for me.

As we had found no other orchids by this part of the trail I decide to head back to the Triton and move on to another location, Alexander Bay. Snail orchids are found under shrubs growing on the coastal granite. Again I will not attempt to name these. One has very short lateral sepals however they may have been nipped off or are actually that short.

I contact Deb on the phone and she directs me to area where she had found the Esperance king spider orchids. This was great as I missed these on my last visit to this spot.

The afternoon is moving along quickly so time to head off for the last planned stop. At the top of Condingup Peak (Mud Map SE 39) I park the Triton then show Deb the granite lookout where snail orchids are usually found. However first up at the edge of the track I locate a Beautiful donkey orchid (Diuris pulchella) which is very distinctive due to its mauve colouring, which is unique this far East.

Also found along the track edge were some snail orchids. They appear to be Brittle snail orchids (Pterostylis timothyi) due to the fawn colouring of the flower and length of lateral sepals. They are also found growing on the granite lookout, however in much lower numbers than found in previous years.

Moving along the ridge of the Telstra installation a small white spider orchid is found. Appears to be a beautiful specimen of the Common spider orchid.

In the moss growing on the flat granite outcrops of the ridge many snail orchids are found. They are much shorter in stature, however still have longish lateral sepals and a rosette with pointed veiny leaves, so may still be Brittle snail orchids. I will leave the identification for now.

It’s 5pm so light is running out fast and taking photos is getting more difficult so we climb back up to the Triton and head back to Esperance. A great day out and about hunting down orchids and sharing the day with our friend Deb C.

22/07/2020 ….. Deb’s Day Out with L&K

Cape Arid NP, Day Trip, National Parks, Western Australian orchids

Its back to work for me, however Deb decides to take Lorraine and Ken out further east for the day. The trip takes them out to Thomas River in the Cape Arid National Park. From here they travelled back west to Alexander Bay located at Howick in the Shire of Esperance.

Deb finds and takes photos of a few orchids at Alexander Bay just to rub it in that I was not there… LOL




<<<<<<< Brittle snail orchids (Pterostylis timothyi) with their distinctive veined pointed rosette leaves. Fawn colouring is also a feature.



Coastal snail orchid (Pteostylis sp. ‘coastal snail’) grow in consolidated sand dunes from Bremer Bay to Israelite Bay. >>>>>>





<<<<<<<< Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora) are found between Bremer Bay and Cape Arid during the period August to October.




Green Range donkey orchid (Diuris littoralis) are found from Denmark to Israelite Bay during the period July to September. >>>>>>




Looks like they had a great day with beautiful sunny skies. Soooo jealous.

Successful sharing – Boyatup and more

Day Trip

22/09/2019

We are collected from our home by Eric and his father, for an orchid adventure out east of Esperance. We will be showing them our Boyatup location ( Mud Map SE 40) and in return we get chauffeured and have the chance to discuss our findings, views, information and thoughts on our beautiful terrestrial orchids. Enjoying the great outdoors by taking nothing but photographs and leaving only footprints.

Our Boyatup location had been affected by bushfire last summer, so this will be our first visit since early August. It will interesting to see which orchids are in flower later in the season after a summer bushfire.

As usual we turn off fisheries Road into the track leading to the rock and jump out once the first orchid is spied. Seen by Deb of course :). Following will be photos taken of the orchids found along this first part of the track.






Purple Enamel Orchid

Elythranthera brunonis

One of the 2 species found in Western Australia.

The Purple enamel orchid was named in 1963.

Can grow to a height of 300mm







Red beaks

Pyrorchis nigricans

One of the 2 species found in Western Australia.

Red beaks were named in 1810 and placed in the Lyperanthus genus before being moved into the Pyrorchis genus in 1994.

Can grow to a height of 300mm




Common bee orchid

Diuris decrementa

One of the 18 species in the Laxiflora complex of the Diuris genus found in Western Australia

Common bee orchid was named in 2013

Can grow to a height of 300mm

Cowslip orchid

Caladenia flava subsp. flava

One of the 4 subspecies of Cowslip orchid (caladenia flava) found in Western Australia

The Cowslip orchid was named in 1810

Can grow to a height of 250mm





Rattle beaks

Lyperanthus serratus

Is the single Western Australian species of the Lyperanthus genus

Rattle beaks were named in 1840

Can grow to a height of 500mm

We have now reached the gravel pit so drive across this to the track leading to the granite outcrop named Boyatup hill. Back in August we found loads of Pink bunny orchids and Blue beards, plus other orchids in smaller numbers. Let’s see what is now in flower. The following photos are of the orchids found in the area which was burnt by last summers bushfire.



Red beaks



Pyrorchis nigricans



Granite china orchid

Cyanicula nikulinskyae

One of the 8 species in the Gemmata complex of the Cyanicula genus found in Western Australia

Granite china orchid was named in 2000

Can grow to a height of 130mm







White mignonette orchid

Microtis alba

One of the 10 species found in Western Australia

White mignonette orchid named in 1810

Can grow to a height of 600mm




Tall leek orchid

Prasophyllum elatum

One of the 16 species in the Elatum complex of the Prasophyllum genus found in Western Australia

Tall leek orchid was named in 1810

Can grow to a height of 1200mm




Pointing spider orchid

Caladenia exstans

One of the 9 species in the Falcata complex of the Caladenia genus found in Western Australia

Pointing spider orchid was named in 2001

Can grow to a height of 450mm




Zebra orchid

Caladenia cairnsiana

One of the 2 species in the Cairnsiana complex of the Caladenia genus found in Western Australia

Zebra orchid was named in 1869

Can grow to a height of 400mm

Pink candy orchid

Caladenia hirta subsp. rosea

One of 2 subspecies in the Hirta complex of the Caladenia genus in Western Australia

Pink candy orchid was named in 2001

Can grow to a height of 250mm

Hypochromic variant






Cowslip orchid

Caladenia flava subsp. flava

Rabbit orchid

Leptoceras menziesii

Is the only member of the genus Leptoceras

Rabbit orchids were named in 1810 and placed in the Caladenia genus before being moved into the monotypic genus Leptoceras in 1840.

Can grow to a height of 300mm




Common bee orchid




Diuris decrementa




Esperance king spider orchid

Caladenia decora

One of the 22 species in the Huegelii complex of the Caladenia genus found in Western Australia

Esperance king spider orchid was named in 2001

Can grow to a height of 500mm




Dusky fairy orchid

Caladenia x erminea

Hybrid between Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava) and White fairy orchid (Caladenia marginata)

Dusky fairy orchid was named in 2001

Can grow to a height of 160mm

Beautiful donkey orchid

Diuris pulchella

One of the 26 species in the Corymbosa complex of the Diuris genus found in Western Australia

Beautiful donkey orchid was named in 1991

Can grow to a height of 500mm




Western wispy spider orchid

Caladenia microchila

One of the 43 species in the Filamentosa complex of the Caladenia genus found in Western Australia

Western wispy spider orchid was named in 2001

Can grow to a height of 250mm

Esperance white spider orchid

Caladenia longicauda subsp. crassa

One of the 14 subspecies of C. longicauda, which is one of the 14 species in the Longicauda complex of the Caladenia genus found in Western Australia

Esperance white spider orchid was named in 2001

Can grow to a height of 500mm




Heberle’s spider orchid

Caladenia heberleana

One of 22 species of the Huegelii complex in the Caladenia genus found in Western Australia

Heberle’s spider orchid was named in 2001

Can grow to a height of 450mm




White fairy orchid

Caladenia marginata

One of the 4 species in the Latifolia complex of the Calendenia genus found in Western Australia

White fairy orchid was named in 1839

Can grow to a height of 200mm




Custard orchid

Thelymitra villosa

One of the 6 species in the Antennifera complex of the Thelymitra genus found in Western Australia

Custard orchid was named in 1839

Can grow to a height of 600mm




Blue china orchid

Cyanicula gemmata

One of 8 species in the Gemmata complex of the Cyanicula genus found in Western Australia

Blue china orchid was named in 1839

Can grow to a height of 150mm




Condingup china orchid

Cyanicula sp. ‘Esperance’

One of the 8 species in the Gemmata complex of the Cyanicula genus found in Western Australia

Condingup china orchid was first collected in 1996 but is yet to be formally named

Can grow to a height of 150mm




Laughing leek orchid

Prasophyllum macrostachyum

One of 4 species in the Gracile complex of the Prasophyllum genus found in Western Australia

Laughing leek orchid was named in 1810

Can grow to a height of 300mm




Bearded bird orchid

Pterostylis turfosa

One of 13 species in the Barbata complex of the Pterostylis genus found in Western Australia

Bearded bird orchid was named in 1840

Can grow to a height of 200mm




Hybrid spider orchid

Caladenia x

Unnamed hybrid orchid. Possible parents: C. decora: C. longicauda: C. heberleana: C. hirta:




Lunch time and it’s time we move on. Eric wishes to show us a location where he has previously found the Holy Grail of orchids: Queen of Sheba orchid. He did not have to ask us twice. After having a bite to eat we head off at this new location, just off Parmango Road. Immediately we come across a new orchid, that Deb and myself had never seen. The following orchids are the ones found at this new location, which is now firmly added to our must visit sites.




Twisted sun orchid

Thelymitra flexuosa

One of the 6 species in the Antennifera complex of the Thelymitra genus found in Western Australia

Twisted sun orchid was named in 1839

Can grow to a height of 350mm




Purple enamel orchid

Elythanthera brunonis

Common bee orchid

Diuris decrementa

Cowslip orchid

Caladenia flava subsp. ?



Rattle beaks

Lyperanthus serratus

White mignonette orchid

Microtis alba



Custard orchid

Thelymitra villosa

Dancing spider orchid

Caladenia discoidea

A distinct species of the Caladenia genus endemic to Western Australia

Dancing spider orchid was named in 1839

Can grow to a height of 450mm




Lemon-scented sun orchid

Thelymitra antennifera

One of the 6 species in the Antennifera complex of the Thelymitra genus found in Western Australia

Lemon-scented sun orchid was named in 1840

Can grow to a height of 250mm




Jug orchid

Pterostylis recurva

A unique species of the Pterostylis genus endemic to Western Australia

Jug orchid was named in 1873

Can grow a height of 900mm


.

What a great new location this was off Parmango Road. Time to move on, so we take Eric and his father to our original location off Coolinup road which is on the other side of Condingup. Here we first visit the gravel pit, then decide to bush bash down to our small granite location. The orchids listed below were found on that bush bash plus around the small granite location.




Esperance king spider orchid

Caladenia decora

Laughing leek orchid

Prasophyllum macrostachyum

Heberle’s spider orchid

Caladenia heberleana



Common bee orchid

Diuris decrementa

Bearded bird orchid

Pterostylis turfosa



Purple enamel orchid

Elythranthera brunonis

It proved a very successful day with Boyatup proving itself once again to be a magnificent location for orchids, with this season especially good after last summers bushfire. Thanks to Eric for sharing his Parmango Road location we finally got to see the Twisted sun orchid in bloom and Eric the custard orchid. Nearly 6 hrs spent searching for orchids in great company.

Road Trip 2019 – Ravensthorpe to Esperance

National Parks, Numerous days, Road Trip, Stokes NP

08/09/2019

After a wonderful night at our son’s place it is time to head off on the final day of our road trip. Leaving Ravensthorpe we make our way to Mt Desmond lookout, off Elverdton Road. Growing alongside the newly grader road to the lookout, were some small Western tiny blue orchids (Cyanicula aperta). Felt lucky to find them as the roadworks had cleared the places we had found orchids on previous visits. These little orchids are found from Dumbleyung to Mt Ragged during the period August to early-October. Also found closer to Elverdton Road was a Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) which is a common orchid, found flowering between Geraldton and Israelite Bay during August through October.

Moving further east, we visit another of our favourite spots, Mills Road near Munglinup. Deb finds the first of many orchids found in this location. The 4 orchids are hybrids of the Caladenia sp. Unable to positively ID so will just post some photos. I think Caladenia radialis or Caladenia brevisura may one of the parents. Please assist with ID if you can.

Found very close-by are some Zebra orchids (Caladenia cairnsiana). These small orchids flower from August to early-November in a southerly range from Lancelin to Esperance.

Intermixed with the Zebra orchids was a Short-sepaled spider orchid (Caladenia brevisura) which adds to the possibility that it is a parent of the hybrid orchids found earlier. These orchids are found between Ravensthorpe and Israelite Bay during the months of August and September.

After further exploration a sole green spider orchid was discovered. However many more were found after further searching. The Small mantis orchid (Caladenia attingens subsp. gracillima) is as the name suggests, smaller than the related Fringed mantis orchid, we found earlier in the road trip. Flowering season is August to early-October and the Small mantis orchid is found between Jerramungup and Israelite Bay,

Another spider orchid is found, this time from the filamentosa complex. The Cream spider orchid (Caladenia horistes) flowers from August to early-October between Fitzgerald River National Park and Balladonia. The Cream spider orchid is also listed as having rare hybrids with the short-sepaled spider orchid, so it may be another parent of the previously mentioned hybrids found at this site.

A single spider orchid from the same complex, but another species is found. This time the smaller Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila) is found. Smaller labellum, thinner sepals and whiter colouring provide me with this identification.

The final orchid found in this location is the small Western tiny blue orchid.

As it is only mid-morning we decide to visit Stokes National Park, before finally heading for home. Upon arriving at the campground we immediately spy some king spider orchids. One of them is a bit worse for wear with his labellum eaten out. Non damaged specimens found with variations in colour, from bright red to pale green so identifying these will be interesting, as both the Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora) and Heberle’s spider orchid (Caladenia heberleana) occur in this location and they are difficult to tell apart. They may also hybridise with each other, so ID will not be attempted at this time. Lots of photos below to show my dilemma.

Well we thought there were lots of king spider orchids, but there is also as many Pink fairies (Caladenia latifolia), which flower from August to early-November between Kalbarri and Israelite Bay. Here they range in size and colour, which just adds to the thrill of finding so many.

Some Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) were also found, whilst pushing into the scrub to grab photos of the Pink fairies. Moving on, we leave the campground and drive back towards the intersection to the day area,where we had previously found orchids. We were not disappointed as we find a few Lemon-scented sun orchids (Thelymitra antennifera) in flower. These are widespread sun orchids found from Shark Bay to Israelite Bay during the months July through October.

Also found at this corner is the every popular Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) which is also a widespread orchid with a long flowering period. These ones were a bit unusual as they had white tips to the petals. Usually solid yellow with markings.

Final orchid found for the day was a unique spider orchid, which we last found at Helms Arboretum a few years back. A single Grass-leafed spider orchid (Caladenia graminifolia) is found growing in the roadside drain under the protection of overhanging banksia bushes. Found between Mt Manypeaks and Israelite Bay during August and September this orchid self pollinates so is in flower for only a few days at the most,so we are very lucky to have found one in flower.

One hour from home and nearly noon so we decide to make tracks, so we can have lunch in our own home. Mixed emotions as we remember the last 2 weeks during this last hour of our 2019 Road Trip.

The first week did not go to plan however we made up for it by visiting Margaret River and tasting a few wines. Then we had a great time catching up with friends from our Rural youth days before our 2nd week, which did not include the planned visit to Charles Darwin Reserve, however we discovered some great new un-planned locations. A special catch up with my cousin Mary-lou that included meeting the eldest cousin Ian for the first time. Only took 55 years.

The major purpose of our road trip, other than having fun getting out in the great Western Australian outdoors, is the discovery of our very special terrestrial orchids, most of which are endemic to WA. On this note we located 70 species/sub species of orchids from 10 genera, with multiple hybrids and hypochromic variants. Refer this post for their details. 2019 Road Trip – Orchids Found

So privileged to witness the natural beauty of our amazing little corner of the world!!!!!!

Park Closure – Helms to the Rescue

Esperance, Helms Arboretum

11/08/2019

Considering we should be waking up out at Thomas River for another day exploring Cape Arid National Park on our weekend camping, (Refer 10/08/2019 post) we cannot stay home this Sunday. So where do we go on a cool overcast August day? Helms Arboretum of course. (Mud Map SE 35). This should provide us some compensation for missing out on our camping weekend.

On arriving we first check out Entrance Plot 21 along the southern edge. We straight away find some Esperance king spider orchids (Caladenia decora) and possible hybrids growing tall amongst the thick weeds.

In the unnamed southern side of the track we find some small snail orchids. Consensus is these are an unnamed species which has been tentatively called the Helm’s snail orchid (Pterostylis sp.) as they do not fit any of the named species recorded for the location.

Moving on to Plot 21 on Brockway Road, just past the wooden log sign marking Helms Arboretum, where there is usually a good patch of spider orchids growing under the large tree. Again appears to be Esperance king spider orchids in various shapes, sizes and colours.

Next we move onto Plot 12 which is planted in a species of pine, so very minimal undergrowth, which makes for easy searching. Nothing much was found before we both stumbled across a massive nook of snail orchids. What an amazing sight to behold. These snail orchids differ to the earlier found ones by having much thinner lateral sepals which do not appear clubbed. From this they appear to be the Ravensthorpe snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘Ravensthorpe’) which flower in woodlands between the Stirling Ranges and Esperance during August and September.

Moving on to Plot 9 we park between Plots 9 & 13 where a patch of yellow catches my eye. The always bright Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp.flava) is found. The we find the Western tiny blue orchid (Cyanicula aperta) in our search of Plot 9. For size appreciation, I grabbed a shot with the Wild Orchid Watch scale card.

Moving to the area we have found large spider orchids before we are shocked to see that people have driven into the plot to saw up firewood, which is illegal in this reserve. They have driven right through the area our spiders were found. With a sigh of relief we find some flowering, however the numbers were definitely down from last year. Again these are beautiful specimens of the Esperance king spider orchid.

As previously found in Plot 9 we finally find some snail orchids (Ravensthorpe or Helms) and many more Western tiny blue orchids. Few pics taken before moving on.

Next is Plot 38 along Jolowah Road. where we find more Esperance king spider orchids and a spent but visible greenhood. Also a lone Cowslip and Western tiny blue orchid is found.

We then moved on to Western boundary (Marked X) and found the lone Southern curly locks (Thelymitra uliginosa) which we have struggled to find flowering over the years. It was nearly open but not enough sun today unfortunately.

We needed to keep moving as it was now past 3pm and it was getting cold. We moved on to the plot were we have found Zebra orchids on previous seasons. We found Greenhood, Cowslip and Spider orchids on the way.

In between Plots 109 and 110 is where we have previously have found Zebra orchids (Caladenia cairnsiana) and we are not disappointed this year. However numbers are way down on previous years. Zebra orchids flower July to September over a range from Nerren Nerren Station to Mt Ragged.