26/09/2021 ….. Hunting @ Helms

Day Trip, Esperance, Helms Arboretum, Western Australian Orchids

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)

Common bee orchid (Diuris decrementa)

Common bee orchid (Diuris decrementa)
Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora)

Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora)

Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora)
Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava)

Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp.flava)

Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava)
Common mignonette orchid (Microtis media)

Common mignonette orchid (Microtis media)

Common mignonette orchid (Microtis media)
Shy sun orchid (Thelymitra graminea)

Shy sun orchid (Thelymitra graminea)

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

Little pink fairies (Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans)

Little pink fairies (caladenia reptans subsp. reptans
Un-named hybrid orchid (Caladenia flava x C. reptans)

Un-named Hybrid orchid (Caladenia flava x C. reptans)

Un-named hybrid orchid (Caladenia flava x C. reptans)
Pink fairies (caladenia latifolia)

Pink fairies (Caladenia latifolia)

Pink fairies (caladenia latifolia)
Lemon-scented sun orchid (Thelymitra antennifera)

Lemon-scented sun orchid (Thelymitra antennifera)

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)

Rattle beaks (Lyperanthus serratus)

Rattle beaks (Lyperanthus serratus)
Small mantis orchid (Caladenia attingens subsp. gracillima)

Small mantis orchid (Caladenia attingens subsp. gracillima)

Small mantis orchid (Caladenia attingens subsp. gracillima)
Purple enamel orchid (Elythranthera brunonis)

Purple enamel orchid (Elythranthera brunonis)

Purple enamel orchid (Elythranthera brunonis)
Heberle’s spider orchid (Caladenia heberleana)

Heberle’s spider orchid (Caladenia heberleana)

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)

Red beaks (Pyrorchis nigricans)

Red beaks (Pyrorchis nigricans)
Zebra orchid (Caladenia cairnsiana)

Zebra orchid (Caladenia cairnsiana)

Zebra orchid (Caladenia cairnsiana)
Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians)

Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians)

Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians)
Esperance white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. crassa)

Esperance white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. crassa)

Esperance white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. crassa)

Now for pics of the varied spider and sun orchids found.

Helms Arboretum rarely disappoints.

11/09/2021 ….. Chirelillup Nature Reserve to Jerramungup

Chirelillup NR, Nature Reserves, Numerous days, Road Trip, Toompup NR, Warperup East NR, Western Australian Orchids

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.


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.


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.

Water covers Cleveland Road, so I jumped out and walked through to test the depth. All good, so Deb pushes through in the mighty Triton.

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.


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 !!!!

09/08/2020 ….. Corrigin to Dowerin (Road Trip 2020)

Road Trip, Western Australian Orchids

Corrigin Wildflower Trail

After a quick breakfast we break camp and head into Corrigin to top up the Triton. We then head straight out to the Scenic Lookout Drive followed by the Corrigin Wildflower Trail which surrounds the airfield.

Western wheatbelt donkey orchid

(Diuris brachyscapa)

Joseph’s spider orchid

(Caladenia polychroma)

Chameleon spider orchid

(Caladenia dimidia)

Jug orchid

(Pterostylis recurva)

Sugar orchid

(Ericksonella saccharata)

Frog greenhood

(Pterostylis sargentii)

Spider orchid – Hypochromic / lutea form

Hairy-stemmed snail orchid

(Pterostylis setulosa)

Mallee banded greenhood

(Pterostylis arbuscula)

Little pink fairy

(Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans)

Ant orchid, Clown orchid, Man orchid, Jack-in-the-box

(Caladenia roei)

Green spider orchid

(Caladenia falcata)

Unidentified spider orchids

(Caladenia sp.)

After spending a few hours at this location, which included running into a fellow orchid enthusiast, we headed off to Dowerin where we have planned to meet up with Richard, our road trip buddy. We called into Watercarrin (Deb’s grandfather farmed here) and checked out Minnivale before finding Richard at the Dowerin Short Stay Village. We stayed in a chalet which was fortuitous as it rained all afternoon into the night.

Only got to check out near Corrigin today and it was so windy but we found a few orchids. I have posted a video below to show how windy it was today which made getting clear photos very difficult.

2018 Road Trip – Holland Track and Beyond – Day 15 – Our Last Day :(

Numerous days, Road Trip


You could not ask for a better morning. Bright sunshine and beautiful blue sky. What better way to start the day than bacon and eggs on Deb’s campfire baked bread.

We head South from the campground and skirt around north of Peak Eleanora towards Dog Rock. This track provided us one last reminder of the Holland Track – Bog holes. Rather than continue to Dog Rock we turn North at the first intersection and travel up to Lake King – Norseman Road. After travelling due West north-west for a while we reach a sharp turn to the South south-west. At this turning, we stop at Ninety Mile Tank, which was once covered by a tin roof but is now in need of some tender loving care.

You would not have known we were on a gazetted road as the state of it was atrocious. Well in the Shire of Esperance it was very poor but upon crossing the shire boundary into Shire of Ravensthorpe it improved greatly. Onwards through Frank Hann National Park to Lake King. We called into the tavern for a counter meal. After a feed and a beer it was time to say goodbye to Richard who is heading home to Port Kennedy.

We however have one last orchid patch to visit before we head home. Pallarup Nature Reserve is one of our favourite spots. Just like Helms Arboretum it rarely disappoints. Turning off the Newdegate-Ravensthorpe Road into Pallarup Rocks, Debbie immediately spots a Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) which we haven’t seen since day 4 of this Road Trip. Close by a double-headed Frog greenhood (Pterostylis sargentii) was found.

Since I am out of the Triton I decide to walk the rest of the way to the parking area whilst Deb slowly drives in. I am busy taking a photo of a Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata) when Deb heads off into the bush, south of the track. She has seen many orchids in an area we have never checked out before. She is not wrong. Only a short way in I find a trio of Cream spider orchids (Caladenia horistes) which flowers August to early October in a range from Fitzgerald River National Park to Balladonia. The spreading petals and lateral sepals and relatively large labellum are tell-tale signs, even though the sepals are light cream in colour.

However what Deb had found was many Pink candy orchids (Caladenia hirta subsp. rosea). I stumble across a light pink version and a Dark banded greenhood (Pterostylis sanguinea), the first in a while as well.

Then some other spider orchids comes into view. These are much more yellow in colour and confirm this as a location of Cream spider orchids.

Finally get to where Debbie has discovered her bright pink candy orchids. They are beautiful.

Very close by were some Blue beards (Pheladenia deformis). So many different colours found so far – Green, white, cream, pink, blue and brown.

As we are searching new ground we decide to take the track up to the water tank and come back to the parking area via the rock. We normally make a bee-line for the rock from the parking area via the information gazebo.

Making our way to the tank track we stumble across a great little patch of Western wispy spider orchids (Caladenia microchila) which are distinguished by their stiffly held petals and sepals. The petals backswept and elevated with the tails sometimes drooping.

First orchids found on the track to the tank were some donkey orchids. Location leads me to name these Yellow granite donkey orchids (Diuris hazeliae) however they could be Green Range donkey orchids as we are less than 100kms or so from the coast.

Another spider orchid comes into view. This double-headed beauty appears to be the Common spider orchid (Caladenia vulgata) due to the long fine glandular tail filaments and backswept, slightly elevated petals. These are the most widely spread of the wispy spider orchids being found between Kalbarri and Esperance. Also a long flowering period from July to mid-October.

The a completely different spider orchid is found, which I am unable to identify. It is a Caladenia hybrid, however the parentage alludes me. One parent must come from the Roei complex whilst the other is likely from the Filamentosa complex. Refer the post “Caladenia” for details of these complexes.

Then nearby I stumble across a Hypochromic colour form of a spider orchid. This colour form can also be referred to as Lutea. This is a genetic mutation which blocks the stronger colours like reds, blues and purples thus allowing the underlying pigments to show through. These are the whites, greens and paler yellows. Exact species not known. However the lack of colours provides a very unique looking orchid.

At the base of a tree we found another couple of Western wispy spider orchids, with one double-header and one that did not mature. The backdrop of the trees bark made for a great photo.

Western wispy spider orchids

One double-header 

Debbie then calls out as she has found a different spider orchid.  This one is not from the Wispy spider orchid complex. It is all by itself but appears to be a Stark-white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. eminens) which is said to be of clumping habit. The location and size of the labellum and fringe segments allude to this classification. These beautiful orchids flower August to early October in an area from Moora to Esperance. Close by more specimens were found including a clump of 5 plants .

It’s now 3pm so we move further along the track towards the rock. Leaning over in plain sight is a large triple-headed  Jug orchid. Then we reach the rock and I quickly check in the mossy undergrowth to see what is there. I find more Pink candy orchids and Sugar orchids.

Also found were some small green orchids from the Roei complex. One was yet to open however, so I have to try to classify from the one in flower. It has small clubbed lateral sepals so must be a Short-sepaled spider orchid (Caladenia brevisura) which are found from Ravensthorpe to Israelite Bay during the months of August and September.  It was not immediately recognised due to the lack of reddish colouring to sepals and labellum.

So now time to venture onto the rock itself. Hang on, check out that great clumping of spider orchids. Appears to be a group of Common spider orchids.

Finally moved on the rock proper and first orchids found were some small donkey orchids. From appearances it appears we have found two different species. The bright yellow ones with dark markings would be the Yellow granite donkey orchid whilst the pale yellow with brownish markings appear to be the Western wheatbelt donkey orchid (Diuris brachyscapa). The western wheatbelt donkeys are described as generally short habit with smallish pale yellow, brown marked flowers. They flower July thru September in an area bounded by York , Tenterden and Ravensthorpe.

On reaching the fence that borders the northern boundary of the rock we come across some more Bluebeards and then the one and only Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava)  is found. further down the rock we also discover another double-headed Sugar orchid.

Then finally in the scrub leading from the rock to the gazebo we find another orchid. This time it is the Ant orchid (Caladenia roei) with its distinctive smooth green labellum with dark apex. One orchid was found intermingled with another Pink candy orchid.

We still have over 2hrs of driving to get home, so it is time to leave our Orchid hunting, but what a day it has been. 15 species found, plus 1 hybrid caladenia and 1 hypochromic caladenia. As previously mentioned, Pallarup Rock rarely disappoints and today was exceptional.

It was an epic effort by Debbie and Richard who drove the entire Holland Track from Broomehill Village to Coolgardie. Then to visit our favourite granite outcrop,Peak Charles plus a new granite outcrop of Cave Hill, just put the icing on the cake. 

I can’t wait to see where 2019 we take us looking for orchids, so BRING IT ON!!