First day of Winter so where should we go today for our orchid hunt? Let us go north. So we head off up the Coolgardie-Norseman Hwy and get as far as Fleming Grove Road before we stop to have our first explore. Loads of Hare orchid leaves and spent flowers are found. Then Pterostylis rosettes start to appear and finally some Banded Greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) are found in flower.
Nothing else found so we head back to the Highway to continue north. However we make a last minute change and head over the Hwy into Boydell Road, heading west. Driving along we pull over to the side of the road and check out a bit of scrubland that appeared to contain some granite rock. This proved incorrect however we did find some possible King-in-his-carriage orchid (Drakaea glyptodon) leaves. Left a marker on the road in the hope of returning to find it flowering in August. Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata) leaves also found, with some spend orchids to confirm flowering had occurred. As they can flower from as early as March it was great to find some recognisable hare orchid flowers. Finally for this new location a Banded greenhood was also found and photographed.
Travelling further east on Boydell road we turn right at the Cascades Road intersection. Our planned stop is Cascade Nature Reserve which we had visited a few years back and found some shell orchids. Unfortunately it appears to be too early for the shell orchids to be flowering this year. Just found some very small rosettes with the buds just sprouting. After exploring for a time we find many spent Pygmy orchids (Corunastylis fuscoviridis) which flower during April and May. Banded greenhoods are found just before we head back to the Triton. Cascade Falls off Loop road will be our final destination of the day.
Parking above the falls we walk down along the bank to the falls, which are just flowing at this stage of the season. From here we check out the parking area , then walk back along the track to the Triton. No flowering orchids found so we head back to the South-coast Hwy via Coomalbidgup for the drive back home. Not too bad a way to kill off 4 hours or so on a public holiday Monday.
After a sleep in we pack up the Triton and head out east to our rock location off Merivale road. We arrive just in time for lunch, so getting our priorities right, we eat first. Whilst eating, we wander around the old abandoned picnic area and find spent White bunny orchid plants, so we may be a bit late in their season.
Just as we were to head off up the slope to the granite, 2 orchids are found in flower. Based on the leaf size I believe them to be Granite bunny orchids(Eriochilus pulchellus)which as the name suggests occur at granite outcrops from Northcliffe to Balladonia. They can grow up to 150mm in height and can have up to 10 flowers per plant. Further specimens were located as were searched around and on the granite.
On the other side of the granite outcrop I thought I had come across another bunny orchid species. This one though has larger leaves so appears to be the White bunny orchid (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. dilatatus). However on closer inspection they appear to be more Granite bunny orchids. The leaves are just towards the larger size for the species which can be 5 to 15mm in length and 3 to 8 mm in width. Others were subsequently found, with one having 6 flowers and standing easily 150mm in height.
We then moved onto the other large granite outcrop, however nothing new was found just more Granite bunny orchids. Once we got back to the picnic area I went back to what I thought was a lone orchid growing in the made made embankment which channels the water flowing off the granite away from the picnic site. There turned out to be a bunch of plants with one reaching 430mm in height. Identification confusion as the bunny orchids that reach that height both grow in the south west corner not East of Esperance.
We now decide to move on and head a little further north to our Coolinup Road locations. At the small granite rock location further Granite bunny orchids are found. At our latest location we locate a newly flowering Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) and some wonderful Hare orchids (Leporella fimbriata). At the granite section of this new location I am sure some of the bunnies found are White bunny orchids (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. dilatatus) as the leaf on one of them is over 50mm in length. Took some photos with coloured card as backdrop to see if the orchid would stand out better. Please provide feedback in comments on preferences.
Off to Stokes National Park today for a walk along the trail from the Day use area to the Benwenerup Campground. We collected a friend (Deb C.) in Esperance to join us on the adventure today. We arrived at the park and after grabbing a water bottle each we commenced the walk by climbing the stairs up the embankment. From here the compacted walk trail follows the embankment with 2 lookouts over the inlet before crossing over the access road for the section to the campground. Only orchids found flowering were the Banded greenhoods.
At the campground further greenhoods were found. So after a short rest we made our way back along the trail to the access road, which we followed back to the day use area. Pictures taken of the Showy Banksia (Banksia speciosa) flowers and Zamia palms (Macrozamia dyeri) which were found in good numbers along this section of the trail. After eating our lunch, we spent some time on the inlet banks, then made tracks back to Esperance. A wonderful day out in the sunny Autumn weather.
We head NE of Esperance today to see if we can find the elusive Hare orchid, which we did not locate in March. At our usual spot on Wittenoom Road we pull over and check around. First up we find another of the White bunny orchids. This time we have located the Crinkle-leafed bunny orchid (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. undulatus).
As the name suggests the leaf has undulated margins. This orchid is located from Northampton to east of Esperance and can grow to 250mm in height.
Further into our search the elusive Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata) turned up. So happy that we have now found the quartet of species for the start of the season in the Esperance area.
Leporella is a monotypic genus which is found from southern Victoria to Western Australia. In WA the Hare orchids are found from north of Kalbarri to Israelite Bay.
Today we head to another regular location to the east of Esperance; Coolinup Road which has increased in size due to previous explorations. Today we decide to check on the location we discovered last season.
Along the track in we are eagle eyed for orchids, however none were found before we reached the granite rock clearing. In the clearing we found many white bunny orchids that had finished flowering. Luckily there were still some in bloom.
The White bunny orchid (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. dilatatus) is found growing in the moss under the protection of a hakea bush in the shallow soil on the granite rocks.
These orchids are found between Dirk Hartog Island and Israelite Bay during the months of March, April and May and can grow to 350mm in height.
Many other White bunny orchids are found before Deb comes across a small drove of Hare orchids. Only one of which is in flower. Each orchid may have up to 3 flowers with pairs fairly common.
Today I visit Dempster Head which is a shire reserve that overlooks Esperance Bay and First and West beaches. (Mud Map SE 34). First up I located some White bunny orchids growing alongside the track below the water tanks.
The size and shape of their leaves attest to my identification. With a length of 40 to 100mm and width of 5 to 18mm, the leaf of the White bunny orchid is by far the largest of the bunny orchids growing in the Esperance area.
Later on the granite rocks above Lovers Beach another small bunny orchid is found growing in the moss and lichen.
The Granite bunny orchid (Eriochilus pulchellus) as the name suggests is found growing in shallow soil pockets on granite outcrops from Esperance to Balladonia and Northcliffe to Bremer Bay, with a disjunct population in the Darling Scarp.
The flowering season is over April and May with plants producing up to 10 flowers. It has a short stature of up to 150mm and produces a small smooth leaf only 5 to 15mm in length and 3 to 8mm in width.
Very happy to have found during the month of April, the 3 bunny orchid types, that flower in the Esperance area.
A weekend away, out East of Esperance, is planned. So after breakfast we hitch up the camper and head out Fisheries Road. Our first point of call is our Coolinup road site. (Mud Map SE 37,38) There is finally some water around, so we make our way into the site and first up find the small Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila) still covered in rain drops. There also appears to be some Cream spider orchids (Caladenia horistes) intermixed in. These orchids flower August to early October in a southerly range from Fitzgerald River National Park to Balladonia. These two spider orchids have overlapping locations and both belong to the Caladenia filamentosa complex. They differ in flower colour and wispiness of petals and sepals.
Then underneath the thick tea tree bushes Debbie comes across some Mosquito orchids (Cyrtostylis robusta) which flower between Perth and Israelite Bay in the months June to August. These differ to the similarly located Midge orchid by the broad labellum.
Nearby more spider orchids are found with neighbouring Blue beards (Pheladenia deformis) which are yet to fully open.
Also nearby are the Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) and Mallee banded greenoods (Pterostylis arbuscula) which differ in the number of flowers, colouring of flowers and overall height of the plant.
Venturing across the road more greenhoods are found as are many spider orchids in large groupings, especially protected under the tee tree bushes. The surprise finding was a recognisable Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata) way passed its prime, but still another species located for the day. A nice solo Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) is found plus Deb stumbles across a small beautiful Pink bunny orchid (Eriochilus scaber subsp. scaber). This one was only 20mm in height.
Such great finds already and we have yet to arrive at our planned camping area, so we can set up and have lunch. So off we head towards Thomas River campground.
Oh no! The road to Cape Arid National Park is closed so we cannot reach Thomas River. Now what?
As we are close to Boyatup Hill (Mud Map SE 40), we decide to go there first and figure out where to camp later. Luckily Deb had pre-made lunch so we quickly have a bite to eat then make tracks for Boyatup.
At out usual first stop, along the track in, we immediately find a Dancing spider orchid (Caladenia discoidea) on the right hand side together with an unusually coloured donkey orchid. Both are still covered in rain drops.
Moving to the left hand side of the track, as it is less bushy, we find some Cream spider orchids, Western wispy spider orchids, Dancing spider orchids and Jug orchids.
Finally a different spider orchid is found. Appears to be from the King spider orchid complex. From it’s appearance I believe it to be a Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora), which flowers August to October between Bremer Bay and Cape Arid. May be the closely related Heberle’s spider orchid which has a similar appearance and range.
Time to walk further along the track towards the old gravel pit. Mallee banded greenhoods, another spent Hare orchid and some Western tiny blue orchids (Cyanicula aperta) are found. These little blue orchids flower from August to October between Dumbleyung and Mt Ragged.
As we reach the other side of gravel pit the landscape turns black. A bush fire had swept through the area last summer, so this is why we planned a visit to this location. We have yet to witness the orchid bloom after a summer fire. Fingers crossed the devastation of the bush fire does lead to new life and we will finally get to observe this.
Immediately to the left as we exit the gravel pit is a lonely Dancing spider orchid growing in the blackened soil. Deb finds some Blue beards nearby which stand out easily against the black.
Then the first pink speck is sighted. Pink bunny orchids begin to appear in scattered groups all over the place. Many more blue beards are found, some growing in clumps. Other Mallee banded greenhoods and Western tiny blue orchids are also found. We are able to explore a much greater area as the fire has cleared away all the undergrowth, leaving just blackened bushes and trees.
We reach the spot we usually park the Triton as the track gets very thin and would scratch the hell out of the paintwork. However we have the camper in tow, so cannot turn around here. So we have to drive further up the track to the granite rocks so we can attempt to turn around. Not that we drive only, as we park and go exploring every five minutes or so. We chew up time but get to explore so much more ground.
Our usual orchid at this part of the track is the Mosquito orchid however only a few leaves are visible in the burnt bushes at the edge of the track. It is not until we venture further afield do we locate some in flower. Also found in this part of the search were more Blue beards and Western wispy spider orchids.
We make it to the turn around spot of the flat granite however the ground between the rock is very soft, so it is a very boggy event, however Deb as always gets us through. Now we are facing the way out we can breathe a bit easier. So why not keep on expanding our search towards the hill itself.
Woohoo we have found our first Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) of the day. These bright yellow beauties always brighten up the day. Then at the base of the hill we discover a vast patch of Western Wispy spider orchids growing under the protection of a bush.
Moving back down towards the Triton we find more Pink bunny orchids, Cream spider orchids, Mallee banded greenhoods and Blue beards.
Then another yellow orchid is found. The Green Range donkey orchid (Diuris littoralis) is recorded as being located between Denmark and Esperance, however http://www.esperancewildflowers.blogspot.com records this orchid as being found east of Esperance and the Orchids of South-West Australia (4th Edition) range map indicates occurrence in Cape Arid, so I am confident is this classification.
Then in an area that would have been impenetrable prior to the fire we find a fully open Esperance king spider orchid. A neighbouring dual headed specimen though appears to be the closely related Heberle’s spider orchid (Caladenia heberleana) due to it’s narrowly clubbed petals and sepals. They flower September and October in a range from Augusta to Cape Arid, so this must be an early flowering one or a mis-classification. Both are very attractive large spider orchids non the less.
We just noticed it is now after 3.30pm and we have yet to decide where we will camp the night, so quickly head back to the Triton and drive back to Fisheries Road. Our thought s were to head into Alexander Bay and camp at the shire campground, but then decided the way in will be wet and slippery, given the closure of Cape Arid National Park, so we decide we will instead go home and sleep in our own bed.
That being decided we breathed a sigh of relief and headed back West. A detour via Condingup Lookout (Mud Map SE 39) though could not be bypassed. We drive up to the Telstra tower and park up. First spot to check is the granite rock outcrop. However on the way there we discover some beautiful snail orchids hiding on the edge of the track. These little guys appear to be the Fawn snail orchid (Pterostylis parva) which are found from the Stirling Ranges to Israelite Bay. They darken with age and flower June through to August, hence the reddish tinge.
We arrived at the granite outcrop and the large hood of snails had already been and flowered and the nearby mosquito orchids were nowhere to be seen. Disappointed I was walking back to the Triton when Deb decides to go into the scrub on a wide berth back. I’m glad she persevered as she stumbled across many Fawn snail orchids and Pink bunny orchids flowering in the moss on the flat granite rocks. Also found were some Green range donkey orchids, Blue beards and Western wispy spider orchids. Not a bad detour Deb!
Finally back in the Triton we make our way down the hill, stopping to check on the Bird orchids growing alongside the road. The rosettes are still growing up but still a way off flowering yet. Also found a finished Scented Autumn leek orchid.
Moving on as it it now 5pm we park down on our usual spot on the Lookout Road and have a quick scout for anything in flower. We find a possible Cream spider orchid, a very old Hare orchid and some Pink bunny orchids. One pink bunny was found flowering in a field of non flowering bunny leaves. I took a photo to show how the leaves change when they flower.
So as the light fades we make our way back to Esperance, thankful that we got to witness how some orchids thrive after a summer bush fire. Pink bunny orchids were very prolific at Boyatup Hill as were the Blue beards. It was hard to walk around without feeling like you are stepping on some, but we did our best to minimise this by treading carefully. All up we found 16 orchid species flowering with 1 yet to flower (Bird) and 1 finished (Leek). 14 of the found orchids were located at Boyatup so the bush fire did produce a bounty for us to discover. Well worth the day trip, it is a pity the weekend planned did not occur.
You may have noticed some of the photos have a Scale card produced by the Wild Orchid Watch (WOW) a citizen science project arranged by the The University of Adelaide. Please refer to their web page at http://www.wildorchidwatch.org plus their Facebook and Instagram pages. If you are based in Australia please register your interest, as an App is close to being released which will allow you to record your findings.
Today I head east to check our how the orchid season in the southeast coast of WA is progressing. As it is winter I expect to be exploring in between rain showers.
My first stop is a bitumen dump off Wittenoom Road in Neridup. I overlooked this location on my trip out here a few weeks back, so Deb reminded me off this spot. My exploration will be restricted to the edge of the clearing as the bush is dripping wet from all the rain.
As I am in the Ford Falcon today, I park just in the southern entrance to the bitumen dump, as the bushes growing in the middle of the track are too large to drive over. I begin my search moving north along the western boundary. Underneath the bushes I find a single Dark Banded greenhood (Pterostylis sanguinea) and very close-by some snail orchids. The snail orchids appear to be Brittle snail orchids (Pterostylis timothyi) due to the small rosette of pointed veined leaves and the tinge of fawn in the green and white flower. These little guys flower July through September in a range from Lake Cronin to Esperance.
Some Hare orchids (Leporella fimbriata) are found next, however are way past their best, with obvious signs of being pollinated. Hoping for something better I move onwards, when I spy some Caladenia orchids in bud. Kneeling down to grab a photo, something white catches my eye. Less than 1 metre away are some Western wispy spider orchids (Caladenia microchila) in full bloom. So exciting to find some spider orchids in flower. These guys flower July through October over a wide range from Kondinin to Madura.
Continuing my search to the north of the blue metal hill, I come across a nice hood of snail orchids, then closer to the northern entrance a Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) is found.
Moving out of the track onto the road verge, a donkey orchid in flower is finally found. Based on the location and colouring these must be Green Range donkey orchids (Diuris littoralis) which flower July to early September in a south coastal range from Denmark to Esperance.
Walking along the entire verge back to the southern entrance I come across further Donkey orchids, snail orchids and banded greenhoods. So after taking some further photos, which I will not post, I decide to move to another location.
Pulling into what I believe to be the old Neridup Tennis Courts, I sit up in the car and have a bite to eat and drink, whilst a rain shower passes. I then have a quick look around and only find more Caladenia orchids budding up. Nothing in flower found unfortunately.
So onwards I go via a few more possible locations before pulling into our new Coolinup road location. Walking down this so called track the first orchid found is another Brittle snail orchid. Then I find some more Hare orchids which are also past their prime. I then move into the scrub where I come across a nice hood of snail orchids.
Upon reaching the low granite outcrop the first finding was a Cyrtostylis orchid in bud growing at the base of a bush.
In the bushes off the granite to the north I find many Banded greenhoods before stumbling across some Caladenia in bud.
It is past 2.30 in the afternoon so I start making my way back to the Ford, when I stumble across more Banded greenhoods and Brittle snail orchids. However I am nearly back at the car when some other greenhoods are found. From their size and colouring they may be Mallee Banded Greenhoods (Pterostylis arbuscula) which flower June to early September in an mostly inland range from Northampton to Eyre. Distinguishing features are short stature and few flowered inflorescence.
I move on to the original Coolinup Road site of the small granite outcrop. Due to the lack of rain this season the puddle blocking access had not yet been filled, so access was much easier than this time last year. Whilst looking underneath the bushes for Mosquito orchids I was amazed to find some spider orchids, as I have never found them here before. They appear to be further Western wispy spider orchids, given the size of their labellum’s
Upon further searching I found more greenhoods and snail orchids. Bird orchids had started but were a long way from flowering, so were the mosquito orchid, plus the larger spider orchids were also a few weeks away from flowering. Grabbed a few snaps of the Pterostylis orchids then moved on.
Myrup Rd is my next destination for a quick search. Some very nice Banded greenhoods are found first followed by many emerging Caladenia orchids. Just a tad early to catch anything in flower though.
Another solo search has ended with a few orchids found. 7 species in fact
Finally after what seems like ages, we head off on a drive to search for some orchids. First stop is the wonderful Helms Arboretum, (Mud Map SE35 ) at the snail orchid plot. Well in previous years it was the snail orchid plot, however we may be a little early this year.
Eventually we come across some rosettes and then a few are in flower. Appears to be the species found 30/07 last year which could not be named. Western Australian Native Orchids Facebook grouphttps://www.facebook.com/groups/517329235050125/ identified these as an unnamed snail orchid from the South East.
2 stem leaves
Also found the leaves oF the spider orchids from previous years , so will be coming back later in the season to check on them. Moving along the track we find some Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) and Dark banded greenhoods (Pterostylis sanguinea) growing on the verge. The lateral sepals are fleshier in the Dark banded greenhood, as the below pictures illustrate.
Distinctive green/white stripes
Flowers have a nodding stance
More of the same found so we decide to proceed to our next planned stop – Fleming Grove Road. Here we find lots of Hare orchids (Leporella fimbriata) in the final stages of flowering.
Playing hide n seek
Dual flowers are common
Finding protection in the bushes
Pushing through the scrub we stubble across more Banded greenhoods growing under bushes for protection from being eaten by the kangaroos.
Can have up to 25 flowers per plant
Insect like labellum flicks up when triggered by pollinator.
Then nearby we are lucky enough to find a solitary donkey orchid barely in flower. Based on location this must be a Green Range donkey orchid (Diuris littoralis) which flowers July to early September over a near coastal range from Denmark to Esperance. Then another more open flower is found closer to the greenhoods.
so far only 1 petal has appeared
Dorsal sepal yet to open up fully
Moving on again this time to Truslove Townsite Nature Reserve which unfortunately turns up orchidless. However Truslove North Nature Reserve turns up some Dark banded greenhoods.
White bands clearly visible on this specimen
Very dark brown colouring
Next stop is Red Lake Townsite Nature Reserve where we take a break for lunch. Deb finishes her lunch first and heads off up the track by foot on her search. I have a quick look around , finding more Dark banded greenhoods, and then jump in the Triton to move up to Deb as she has found something new. Dwarf shell orchids (Pterostylis brevichila) are her find, which flower July to September in a range from Hyden to Mt Ragged. Great pickup Deb!!
Fleshy lateral sepals
Less pronounced hood than other shell orchids
Stem leaves but no rosette
Appears to be yawning
Erect narrow ended lateral sepals
Next up Deb finds a Midget greenhood (Pterostylis mutica) so close to flowering. These little guys are found July to October from Wongan Hills to the SA border. Also within coo wee are some yet to fully open Frog greenhoods (Pterostylis sargentii) which flower July to October in an inland range from Northampton to Grass Patch. Better specimens are found down another track.
This little guy stood 25mm high
Lateral sepals yet to open downwards
Then some more greenhoods are found, so last minute photos taken before moving on.
White bands are clear in these flowers
Slightly cupped lateral sepals
Our final destination for today is Eldred Rd near Salmon Gums, where we check out the woodlands surrounding a clay pan lake. (see Feature Image). Only orchids found were more greenhoods, but some appear to be the newly named Mallee banded greenhood (Pterostylis arbuscula) which flowers June to September in an inland range from Northampton to Eyre. All orchids were restricted to the bases of the larger trees.
So today was a day that the Pterostylis orchids ruled. At least 7 species found.
Banded Greenhoods x 3
The Diuris and Leporella are bonus orchids in a woodland of Pterostylis.
Have time for a quick spin out to Coolinup road (Mud Map SE 37/38 ) due to Debbie’s work roster. After a wonderful cooked breakfast we pack up the Triton for our day trip. Heading east with foreboding black clouds all around, we arrive at our usual first destination on Coolinup Road.
Looking down Coolinup Rd to Fisheries Rd intersection
I push into the scrub to find some greenhoods, as they are always here. Debbie though skirts the bushes to see what she can find. I locate a Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata)which flowers April to September in a range between Perth and Balladonia. Also found are Dark banded greenhoods (Pterostylis sanguinea) which flower June to September , however range inland between Mullewa and Toolinna Cove. Only a few plants fully formed though which must be down to the dry start to our orchid season.
Bright green and white striped flowers
Fleshier flowers than the Banded greenhood
Debbie finds some greenhoods as well underneath the bushes in the granite runoff. Then she discovers the Bird orchid leaves are sprouting with greenhoods nearby.
Labellum has been triggered
Labellum not triggered
Mutiple stem leaves
Further around the rock Deb yells excitedly as she has found our first leek orchid of the season. Appears to be an Autumn leek orchid, but which one? I will be naming this specimen the Autumn leek orchid (Prasophyllum parvifolium) due to it’s colouring. Thes little guys flower June to August and are found between Eneabba and Mt Ragged.
Pink colouring sets it apart from the related Scented autumn leek orchid
Full plant stood around 100mm in height
And close by was a small double headed Banded greenhood, just to finish off this location.
Plant stood 60mm in height
Feeling buoyed by finding the leek orchid we decide to check out the track leading into a bitumen dump. Unfortunately nothing seen whilst coasting in, however I did spy a new track that had been made into the scrub. By track I should say, 2 wheel ruts squashed into the vegetation. On the way back from the bitumen dump I convince Deb to pull over so we can have a quick check.
This proved to be a good decision, as a little way in we were finding Hare orchid leaves, Red Beak leaves and some spent White bunny orchids. Then Debbie stumbles across a Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata) still in flower. These are found between Kalbarri and Israelite Bay during the months of March to June, so we are lucky to find one still flowering, albiet already fertilised. Then a little bit further down the track another one is found.
Fertilized by the size of their ovary
Love the upright petals
Further along we come to another granite clearing, however it is at least twice the size of our first regular location. Excitedly we spread out to inspect the site. It looks like prime habitat for later orchids, so we put this one into our data base (heads) for later in the season. Debbie is again the first to find an orchid flowering. This time it is a Granite bunny orchid (Eriochilus pulchellus) which flower April and May in a range from Esperance to Balladonia. They are also found elsewhere in specific areas. Further bunnies are also found however no photos taken.
Distinctive white lateral sepals
Taller orchid would have been 150mm in height
As it is lunch time we head back to the Triton and make our way to the usual gravel pit off Lane Road, where we can eat in peace. Debbie rustles up our Tuna and Chickpea salad, then we walk around eating from our respective bowls. Many leaves are found before I uncover another Hare orchid, whilst moving in to check out some Banded greenhoods.
Double header … Common number
Also called Fringed hare orchid for obvious reasons
Can have up to 10 flowers per orchid plant
Green white striped flowers
Nodding nature and darker colouring lead to this ID
That is all we have time for today so we head off home to Esperance. It was nice to get out into the fresh air after a hectic week of work.
Leaving Kwolyin by our usual 10am we head south towards Corrigin on Shepherd Road and choose to visit Pikaring Nature Reserve which is located on the Old Beverley Road. This is a new location for us so we drove slowly along until we found a place to park the Triton and camper well off the road. We then went exploring.
Woohoo, finally we find some orchids. Dark banded greenhoods (Pterostylis sanguinea) are found growing on the rock which is the main feature of this reserve. These orchids flower June to September and are found in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania as well as in WA. Here they are found from Mullewa to Toolinna Cove, but do not occur in the South west corner.
Can have up to 12 stem leaves
Broad joined lateral sepals
Flowers have a nodding appearance
Only other orchids found were some spent White bunny orchids, so after morning tea we move on, but not too far before we pull off the road into Boolanelling Nature Reserve, which is very open woodland habitat. No luck in finding any orchids in flower but we did find Redbeak, Spider and Sun orchid leaves and Pterostylis rosettes. The place was also occupied by lots of large termite mounds.
As it is already afternoon we move on. We planned to visit Talbot rock however it was in private property we had to forgoe this spot. Arriving in Yealering, we have another cuppa soup lunch, this time overlooking a somewhat dry lake, before grabbing a takaway coffee as a special treat. Now we need to decide where we are going to camp the night.
About 15kms away is Malyalling Nature Reserve, which we have visited before, so we decide to check it out again. On the old sportsground, which is not a part of the Nature Reserve we find a suitable spot to camp. It even has a shelter with an existing camp fire spot. A quick look around over the rock and through the woodlands only turned up leaves, rosettes and some yet to flower Pterostylis orchids.
Our campsite for the night
All set up for a great night under the stars
After another wonderful nights sleep and a hearty breakfast we pack up and head off, as our quick search last night was enough to confirm this to be another orchidless location, for now. We make a beeline to Toolibin Nature Reserve, which contains Toolibin Lake, and have a search of the woodlands along the track leading into the picnic area. Last visit turned up lots of orchids but no such luck today.
Next location to checkout is Yilliminning Rock as we have previously driven past without stopping, usually due to time constraints on a drive home from Perth, however today we have time. Parking up in the picnic area, before enjoying lunch, we decide to check out the rock. After a good 10 mins of searching we come across some Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) which flower April till September in locations between Perth and Balladonia. Whilst I’m getting some photos Debbie yells out in excitement as she has finally found another type of orchid.They appear to be Green-veined shell orchids (Pterostylis scabra) which flower May to August over a large range from Kalbarri to Esperance.
Found growing on granite rock
So many rosettes with only a few flowering
Petals and dorsal sepal join to form hood
Prominently protruding labellum
Shell orchids in the foreground
Nothing more found on the rock other than what appears to be Elbow orchid leaves, so after finding the striking Sea-urchin hakea (Hakea petiolaris) we make our way back to the surrounding woodlands for the trek back to the picnic area. In this woodland I find more Banded greenhoods, however some are brown in colour but do not appear to be Dark banded greenhoods, due to the lateral sepals being more elongated than broad.
Bright green colour
Light brown colour – Not usual
This flower was growing on a bare branch
Leaves will be withered by flowering time – Oct to Jan
Very tall specimen
Light brown coloured specimen
Sign at picnic area
After enjoying lunch we head into Narrogin to get some supplies. We visited the Dryandra Country Visitors Centre and obtained information on the local reserves. We chose to check out Foxes Lair a reserve in the town boundary. We drove through the reserve and decided to park at the Arboretum carpark and take the Granite Walk. This walk is 1.2km in length and incorporates the Arboretum. It was a pleasant walk however was not producing any orchids until we reached the section of granite boulders. Here we found some Dark banded greenhoods.
Granite habitat of Dark banded greenhoods
Can grow up to 400mm in height
Insect-like labellum flicks up when triggered by pollinator
Little group growing close to granite
Growing in the Sheoak needles
As it is now after 3pm we make a move to an area called Newman Block where there are some more marked walk trails. Due to limited time before sunset, we decided we had better find an overnight camp spot. As we slowly checked out the woodlands I spy a Banded greenhood at the side of the track. As Deb reverses back so I can grab a photo, she sees a very small White bunny orchid. Exact ID unknown.
Flowers more upright than Dark banded greenhood flowers
Exact species unknown
We find a camping spot and set up for another night around the campfire. Today proved a much more fruitful day so fell asleep quickly after a good feed and a few bevvies.
Campfire lit in cleared area.
This morning after breaking camp we set off on the Sandplain Walk which skirts an incline before we climb this to the sandplain. On the incline up we finally find a Dark banded greenhood in flower.
Wonderful woodland habitat
Typical nodding nature of flower
Once on the elevated sandplain the vegetation changes and we come across many Hare orchid leaves. Then finally we come across one in flower. The Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata) flowers March to June over a large range from Kalbarri to Israelite Bay. A little further along we come across others in flower.
Location we found the Hare orchids
Striking a pose
Size comparison to Debs hand
Nice double header.
Leaving the sandplain we head into a thicket of trees where we find some Banded greenhoods. One of which was a good 350mm in height, so took a photo alongside my lower leg for scale.
Green and white stripes. Flowers do not nod
Height comparison to my lower leg
We arrive back to the Triton and camper around 11.30am and make tracks for our next planned stop. This being near Piesseville (Mud Map SE14) which did not turn up anything other than leaves ready for later in the season. So we travel via Piesseville to the North Wagin Nature Reserve where we grab some lunch. Then time to look around. So many Banded greenhoods found, some with really crowded inflorescences.
Trio of plants
Very full inflorescence
We fill up the Triton in Wagin before moving onto a new location. Just southeast of Wagin is Puntapin Rock on Puntaping Rd. We go for a exploratory walk up the rock and only find leaves and sprouts of unknown origin.
Possible Shell or Frog greenhood.
Leaving the picnic area
So now we need to find a campsite for tonight. Passing through Dumbleyung we head east and finally pull into an old gravel pit near Tarin Rock. We light what will be our last campfire of the trip and enjoy a red wine. Cooked up a meal in the camp oven and settled in for a cold night.
Deb stoking the fire
Camp oven stew.
Checking dinner cooking on the fire
Woke up to a foggy morning, so jumped out and got the fire going for some warmth. After our last breakfast on the road we pack up camp and head to a usual stop, the Lake Grace Lookout. It is still so dry here so we expect to find nothing. However under the usual bush I find the stand of greenhoods.
Lots under this one bush
Still yet to open
Stopping in Lake Grace we grab a coffee at Cafe Arjo, which was really yummo, then drive on to Newdegate. We had to grab a photo of the CBH Silos before buying last minute supplies at the general store. Then it was eastward to Lake King.
Notice the Cowslip orchids with the lizard
First up we grab lunch at the Lake King Tavern before heading off on Walk Trail No.1 which takes us from the Tavern to the General Store. Then we take Walk Trail No.3 back to the tavern on a 3.6km loop into the woodlands. There was so much rubbish in the woodlands including a caravan, 2 tractors, car bodies and so many rusted tins. Also though we did find more greenhoods and many Pygmy orchids, which of course had finished flowering for the season.
Yet to fully open.
All flowers now finished
Showing typical habitat
Making it back to the Triton we head off for Pallarup Nature Reserve or more exactly Pallarup Rocks, which usually bring the goods. We did find orchids but not many. Dark banded greenhoods and a solitary Hare orchid.
Dark brown lateral sepals
Best shot taken in the windy conditions
Well we pull into Raventhorpe at 4.45pm and set up the camper in the front yard of the unit our son, Tim, is renting. Was great to catch up with him, have a hot shower, play Tri-ominos and eat dinner indoors. We do however sleep in out camper so hot water bottles are again filled.
Tim leaves for work before 6am, as we hear him leave but remain in our warm bed until later. After breakfast we pack and and make tracks for home. We do stop in at Mills road but no orchids found, so Esperance here we come.
So now the question posed by the title to this post – Was a Jaunt in June Justified?
So after a lazy morning I head out to Mount Burdett Nature Reserve (Mud Map SE 36) to have a scout around. Parking up on the rock, I have a bite of lunch before heading off on my search. Within 2m of the Triton I find my first White bunny orchid (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. dilatatus) growing up through a shrub. To get into the light the orchid has grown to 350mm in height, which is the maximium by my reference book. The smooth, relatively narrow leaf confirms the classification.
Smooth leaves situated high up the stem
At maximum height – 350mm
White forward spreading lateral sepals
Then right at the edge of the rock I find a very small version of the White bunny orchid. Measuring only 55mm in height. However given it’s size and size of the leaf I am now of the opinion this it is in fact a Granite bunny orchid (Eriochilus pulchellus) which grows, as the name suggests, on granite outcrops, of which Mt Burdett is one. These little fellows flower April and May and occur in the Perth hills, between Northcliffe and Bremmer Bay and between Esperance and Balladonia. Proceeding around the base of the rock I find many more bunny orchids, which vary in height and number of flowers per stem.
Spreading white lateral sepals
Only 55mm in height.. Small fry
Up to 10 flowers per orchid
Small stem leaf
Typical habitat – Moss on granite
Small dual flowered specimen
Short spreading petals
Small smooth narrow leaf
Just as I was about to accept that the only orchids to be found today would be bunny orchids, an orchid of differing colours catches my eye. You little beauty, I have found some Hare orchids (Leporella fimbriata) which flower March to June from north of Kalbarri to Israelite Bay. These guys are cute little orchids with erect ears and a beard. Within 2 m of the first 2 I found a grouping of 4. Very happy!!
Someone lurking in the background
Erect ear-like petals
Dorsal sepal curves over the column
Can on rare occasions, have 4 flowers per orchid
Broad, fringed labellum
It is now just past 1pm and I have found myself on the opposite side of the granite outcrop to where I had parked the Triton, so I had better start heading back. I won’t backtrack though, but climb up to the phone towers and then take the usual track back to the Triton. Pushing through scrub I did not find anything else other than the occasional bunny orchid. I did however come across the biggest meat ant nest I have ever seen.
Size comparison to my drink bottle
Heading back down the rock from the summit I come across another White bunny orchid as well as many Granite bunny orchids. Due to the time though I cut my photo taking time down as I need to get to the airport to pick Debbie up, on her flight home from Perth.
Much larger leaf visible – Not in focus unfortunately
Labellum less colourful
Looks like a little man with big white flippers on
Happy to have found the Hare orchid today. This now completes the species found for the month of May to the four known for my area.