So, we awake in Yealering on the Sunday after enjoying the Regatta on the lake the previous day. We are in the local caravan park with friends Sandy, Noel and Richard. After breakfast we all pack up our respective campers and make our separate way home. For us this will be an excuse to go orchid hunting. Fancy that!!!
I do not have a record in my little black book, and I am writing this record more than 12mths after the fact, so my memory fails me. So, this record will record locations and finds only, with no commentary, which some may find refreshing.
Green spider orchid
200 – 400mm in height
Flowers – Late Aug to Oct
Location – Wongan Hills to Jerramungup
Granite sun orchid
100 – 350mm in height
Flowers – Aug to Nov
Location – Mullewa to South Australia
Small flowered donkey orchid
150 – 350mm in height
Flowers – Late July – Sept
Location – Moora to Albany
100-180mm in height
Flowers – Oct to Jan
Location – Kalbarri to Grasspatch
EIGHTY SIX GATE ROAD – UNNAMED NATURE RESERVE
Little laughing leek orchid
60 – 200mm in height
Flowers – Jul to Oct
Location – Shark Bay to Eyre
Granite sun orchid
Leaf – Narrow, 4-6mm in width
Colour – Blue, purple or pink
(Caladenia flava subsp. flava)
100 – 250mm in height
Flowers – Jul to early Dec
Location – Geraldton to Israelite Bay
Green spider orchid
Another common name – Fringed mantis orchid
Leaf – Single, erect, hairy leaf 100-200mm in length
Habitat – In the north sandy soils over sandstone, In the south soil pockets on granite
Leaf – Fleshy, green and red infused leaf, which is shriveled at time of flowering
Blue china orchid
40 – 150mm in height
Flowers – Aug to early Nov
Location – Kalbarri and Israelite Bay
Harrismith / Dudinin area
Granite sun orchid
Green spider orchid
Shy sun orchid
150 – 350mm in height
Flowers – Oct to Nov
Location – Perth to Esperance
Little laughingleek orchid
Common mignonette orchid
(Microtis media subsp. media)
Small mantis orchid
(Caladenia attingens subsp. gracillima)
170 – 350mm in height
Flowers – Aug to early Oct
Location – Jerramungup to Israelite Bay
Little laughing leek orchid
You can tell we are moving into the last few months of the Western Australian orchid season as we only located 9 species over multiple inland locations. The Southwest corner has a much longer season than both the inland and Southeastern areas.
Well, after yesterday spending some time looking for orchids near our coastal lakes, it was inevitable that we would venture out to Helm’s Arboretum (Helm’s Forestry Reserve) to check out what is still flowering in this amazing location. (Mud Map SE35)
We do not have to venture far before we stumble across some orchid beauty. In the section near the entrance, we find the following orchids:
Common bee orchid (Diuris decrementa)
Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora)
Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp.flava)
Common mignonette orchid (Microtis media)
Shy sun orchid (Thelymitra graminea)
Time is a moving and so must we, so onwards into the Arboretum we go. At the first road to the right, we turn off and slowly drive along looking out the windows. As soon as we spy something new, we pull over for a closer inspection. Along this track we find the following different orchids:
Little pink fairies (Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans)
Un-named Hybrid orchid (Caladenia flava x C. reptans)
Pink fairies (Caladenia latifolia)
Lemon-scented sun orchid (Thelymitra antennifera)
Moving further into the Arboretum we stop at a specific spot to find the Rattle beaks and we are not disappointed. Other orchids our found across the track from the Rattle beaks.
Rattle beaks (Lyperanthus serratus)
Small mantis orchid (Caladenia attingens subsp. gracillima)
Purple enamel orchid (Elythranthera brunonis)
Heberle’s spider orchid (Caladenia heberleana)
Now to check out some further areas of this large reserve. We come across some more varied spider and sun orchids which may be different species, hybrids or just colour variants. Other orchids new for the day were also found and I will list these first.
Red beaks (Pyrorchis nigricans)
Zebra orchid (Caladenia cairnsiana)
Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians)
Esperance white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. crassa)
Now for pics of the varied spider and sun orchids found.
After an early breakfast we head out to our first location to continue our orchid hunt. Some of the first orchids found are still covered in dew, which exposes the cobwebs as well.
Well, I glad we persevered at this location given we found nothing in the first 5 minutes. The hybrid found was our first with a Dragon orchid and the numbers of white spiders was amazing.
However, we must keep moving but we only make it some way up the SouthCoast Highway before pulling into Jacup Highway Park, a rest stop near to the Fitzgerald River crossing. Seems a bit overrun with weeds, but we make the effort and are rewarded big time.
JACUP HIGHWAY PARK
After some amazing finds, we jump back into the Triton and head east. We decide to check out another new location and pull over at Koornong Nature Reserve. Some of our finds may be outside the Nature Reserve boundary as the scrubland extends further along the roadside than we were originally aware of.
Koornong Nature Reserve
Four species found, so not too bad a spot. Worthy of a re-visit another time. Next stop is further along the highway. Here we pull into an old bitumen dump and venture into the surrounding scrub. Orchids found 🙂
East Naernup Nature Reserve
It is now way past lunch time, so we head to Munglinup Roadhouse for their amazing burger. Near the roadhouse I find a nice spider orchid and take a photo, which ends up being the last taken for the day.
Our 2021 orchid hunting road trip has come to an end as we head home from Munglinup. As usual it has been amazing to find so many beautiful orchids in the wonderful West Australian bush and woodlands. Many old favourites found as well as some new species, which is always very exciting. Quite a few hybrids found this time as well as a few lutea or polychromic variants.
After a cool night, instead of packing up camp straight after breakfast, we go exploring the reserve, whilst the camper dries out. I had seen lots of orchids on my quick scout yesterday and now looked forward to having the time to explore with Debbie.
CHIRELILLUP NATURE RESERVE
As per last night the very first orchid found is the Green spider orchid (Caladenia falcata). Also commonly known as the Fringed Mantis orchid.
Then we stumble across a newly named orchid. The Little frog greenhood (Pterostylis occulta) was named in 2021 from specimens collected in 2005, west of Brookton. It is distinguished from P. sargentii by the shape and hairiness of the horn-like structures of the labellum.
Then an old favourite appears just asking us to take a photo. The Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) comes in varied shades of yellow. Then the reddish markings can be bold or pale and be dots or lines and everything in between.
Another yellow orchid is then spotted. Donkey orchids are another orchid that can be difficult to identify, as they are all so similar in appearance and overlap in their recorded locations. For this reason I will not attempt to name the ones found here.
Well I find donkey orchids hard to identify, now I need to try and identify spider orchids from the filamentosa complex. I believe some to be the Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians) whilst others may be the Joseph’s spider orchid (Caladenia polychroma) as both are recorded as being located in the Shire of Gnowangerup, and the features seem to match the reference books
An exciting find was the Purple-veined spider orchid (Caladenia doutchiae) which is found between Mullewa and Raventhorpe. The long tapers to the sepals distinguish it from other related orchids.
A common inland orchid is the Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata) however only a few were found at this location. Also found was the ever reliable Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva), again not in great numbers though.
We ran into some fellow orchid enthusiasts, Martina & Rick, who amazingly follow this blog via Facebook. They shared with us an app on their phone they use to record locations of interest. It also has the ability to overlay geology maps, that show different geology types, which they feel assists them in locating different orchid habitats. I have installed the Australian geology travel maps app and now regularly use it on our excursions.
The camper has now dried out sufficiently so we pack up camp and head off. We detour into Gnowangerup before heading east again. This time we venture into a new location which is not too great a detour off the main track. However we did have to take the Triton and camper through a bit of water to get back to the main Gnowangerup-Jerramungup Road. The water was in the middle of farmland, not the Nature Reserve though.
TOOMPUP NATURE RESERVE
Being a new location, we are excited to see what is found in Toompup Nature Reserve. We pull into an off road parking spot and immediately find some Green spider orchid (Caladenia falcata) which is also referred to as Western mantis orchid. The highly upturned lateral sepals are one of its distinguishing features.
Some small frog greenhoods are located next, however the photos we took are not clear enough to discern the species conclusively. I though, will name them the Little frog greenhood (Pterostylis occulta) due to the sharp of the horn-like structures on the labellum. Please correct me if you think I have erred in this ID.
Some yellow catches our eye. The faithful Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava)is found. They certainly brighten up the dull West Australian bush.
Vying for having the most yellow in the bush are the donkey orchids, which are also found en masse. To make life difficult three species are recorded as being found in the Shire of Gnowangerup. I will take a guess that some are the Western wheatbelt donkey orchid (Diuris brachyscapa) and some other ones are the Small flowered donkey orchid (Diuris porrifolia). Florabase mentions D. brachyscapa whilst Atlas of Living Australia lists D. brachyscapa and D. porrifolia as being found in this Nature Reserve.
Well we did find some orchids as a single specimen. A flowering Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) and Dancing spider orchid (Caladenia discoidea) , a budding Purple enamel orchid (Elythranthera brunonis) and a spent Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata) were some such finds. Red beaks (Pyrorchis nigricans) and Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata) were found in low numbers.
OK so we find so many different coloured spider orchids from the filamentosa complex that being certain of their identification is proving difficult.
So, I believe most to be the Joseph’s spider orchid (Caladenia polychroma) as they are a common orchid that occurs in variable colours of white, cream, yellow, red and pink. However, the Chameleon spider orchid (Caladenia dimidia) is also a possibility given it occurs in various colours, though it is not currently recorded as occurring in the Gnowangerup LGA.
Some spiders I cannot name are shown opposite. Either the calli are not broad, the colouring seems different, or the size of the flower and labellum don’t fit in with the Joseph’s species. Any help with an ID would be appreciated.
Then to add to the confusion with identification, some hybrids are found together with a lutea or hypochromic specimen.
Parents could be the Purple-veined spider orchid and either Joseph’s or Chameleon spider orchids as both are recorded hybrids.
The lutea or hypochromic specimen appears to be a Joseph’s spider orchid due to the broad calli on the labellum.
Also found were some larger white spider orchids. Now 2 sub-species of C. longicauda are recorded as being found nearby to this location. However, I believe the one I located to be the Stark white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. eminens) due to the broad labellum with long fringe segments.
As with the smaller spider orchids, we also came across a couple that did not appear usual. They could just be variants, given the C. longicauda has 4 or more rows of calli. However, the colouring is not stark white either so if you can help with ID, again that would be appreciated.
Finally, time to move on towards Ongerup where we plan to grab a cuppa at the Malleefowl Centre. We came across some water covering the road, so I jumped out and walked through to test the depth. All good, so Deb pushes through and we arrive at the Yongergnow Malleefowl Centre.
After another amazing cuppa and icecream we make tracks east towards Jerramungup. However along the Gnowangerup-Jerramungup Road we pull over at a patch of green on the map. It turns out to be Warperup East Nature Reserve. So we jump out the Triton and go exploring this new location.
WARPERUP EAST NATURE RESERVE
First up we find the Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata), which has now been found at all 3 locations visited so far today.
Next up find some orchids of the Pterostylis genus. Most are way past their best, but I took photos just to record they are found at this location. Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva), Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) and Hairy-stemmed snail orchid (Pterostylis setulosa). These orchids all start flowering much earlier in the season.
Other green orchids are found but these belong to the Caladenia genus. First up we find the Small mantis orchid(Caladenia attingens subsp. gracillima), however later on larger flowers are found with longer fringe segments. These could be the Green spider orchid (Caladenia falcata) which occurs as far east as Jerramungup according to my references. The Small mantis orchid is stated as being located as far west as Jerramungup and as we are only 22kms west of Jerramungup both of these species could very well be located here.
Excitedly, we find a new species for the day. The Western tiny blue orchid (Cyanicula aperta) as the name suggests is only 50 – 150mm in height with flowers only 20 – 25mm across. For comparison the Stark white spider orchid is 300 – 600mm in height with flowers 80 -120mm across.
After blue comes the yellow. The reliable Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) is the next orchid to be spotted.
Another yellow orchid is also found. The Western wheatbelt donkey orchid (Diuris brachyscapa) is a common orchid found between York, Tenterden and Ravensthorpe. The lateral sepals are said to be crossed hanging, often reflexed, which my pictures confirm.
A special find for this location was the hybrid orchids found. Three in total were found and I believe they are all the named hybrid, Wheatbelt spider orchid (Caladenia x cala). This is a cross between a White spider orchid (C. longicauda) and a Green spider orchid (C. falcata). Hybrids of C. attingens X C. longicauda are also recorded though un-named.
We then move a little further east before pulling up at the location of Needilup. A quick exploration around then takes place with some familiar orchids being found.
Well, we only pull over on the side of the road and explore a few meters in. First orchid to catch our eyes was the donkey orchid. Then a lone 2 headed Jug orchid is found, plus lots of Green spider orchids. I feel these ones are definitely Green spiders and not Small mantises due to the size of the labellum.
No more stops before we reach our final destination for the day. Jerramungup is a welcome sight after a long day orchid hunting. We check into the Jerramungup Motor Hotel and enjoy a good pub feed and a comfortable bed. At least 17 different species found with a few hybrids thrown in. A very pleasing day !!!!
Well after enjoying our 2nd night at the Stirling Range Retreat, we pack up and head out on our exploration of the Stirling Range National Park. We plan on taking the Stirling Range Drive to Red Gum Pass Road, then north to Salt River Road. Then heading east to Formby Road South where we will head north to Gnowangerup. Obviously we plan on making numerous stops to explore for orchids and to enjoy the wonderful outdoors.
First up we head into Bluff Knoll Road to check out the orchids in one further location. Maybe we will find something different without the threat of rain hanging over our heads. Not surprisingly, the orchids found were the same as the ones found yesterday, but photos were taken again of course.
Nearly 10am, so we make tracks toward our next location. On Stirling Range Drive, we make a split second decision to pull over on the side of the road. We manage to find a few orchids on the side of the road.
We jump back in the Triton and move a few hundred metres down the road before stopping at a spot that had seen a bushfire some time in the last year. Let us see if this has triggered orchids to grow for us to find.
Now it nearly 11am so onwards we travel, with our next stop being Talyuberlup Picnic Area. First up we check the picnic area side of the road then we head up the Talyuberlup Peak trail a wee bit, before scrambling back to the triton. As we had hoped, orchids are found.
Time to consider lunch, so we move onwards to White Gum Flat picnic area. We have a bite to eat and then go exploring the nearby area. We don’t venture to far before we find orchids. This time round we actually cross the road and find further orchids including new ones for the day. Turns out the King spider orchid is a new species for us, so that was an exciting find.
Still more of this National Park to check out so onwards we go. At the intersection of Red Gum Pass Road we turn left and check out some locations along the roadside. We found a few orchids including some new ones for the day.
We now head north along Red Gum Pass Road and make a quick stop into the picnic area, where we find a few orchids but move further north to another road side location where orchids are located as well.
We eventually reach Salt River Road and turn right. However we soon pull over at Salt Lake Nature Reserve for an explore, but after a quick check not much is located so we move on to Camel Lake Nature Reserve, with a road side stop along the way. At this final stop we are lucky to find some new orchid species for the day as well as previously found ones. Photos of all those found at the locations along the way were taken to record their discovery near the northern boundary of the National Park.
Wowsers, they were amazing first time locations for orchids. 13 possible species and 1 hybrid found, however we must move on as it’s past 4.30pm and we still have nearly 50kms to our planned destination. We arrive at Chirelillup Nature Reserve, set up camp and whilst Deb lights the campfire I have a very quick scout around in the waning sunlight.