Woke up to thick fog, so this delayed our departure as we waited for the campers to dry out before we packed them away. Once on our way we followed the Trip Notes from the “Explore the Holland Track and Cave Hill Woodlines” Explorer Series: Western Australia No.1 3rd Edition booklet and made our first stop at the side of the Katanning-Nyabing Road in Ewlyamartup. All 3 of us go exploring and we discover Cowslip orchids (Caladenia flava subsp. flava), Jug orchids (Pterostylis recurva), Western wheatbelt donkey orchid (Diuris brachyscapa) and Dark Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis sanguinea) all of which have been previously found this season.
Nice family group
Extended family group
Small family group
Up to 900mm in height
Lateral sepals look like birds
Broad spreading lateral lobes to the labellum
Hanging, often reflexed, crossed lateral sepals
Rounded to elongated petals
Up to 10 flowers per orchid
Small insect like labellum
These all appear to have been fertilised
Further along the road we stop at an old church, St Peters Church in Badgebup which was built in 1922. Toilet break in Nyabing, before heading to a Holland Track landmark, referred to as Holland Dam just off Guelfi Road.
We found the government water tank and a track into the scrub which lead to a cleared area, which may have been the remains of the so called dam. We quickly walked around and found further Jug orchids, Cowslip orchids, Dark banded greenhoods and Sugar orchids (Ericksonella saccharata).
Inverted hood becomes the jug
Twisted lateral seapls
Dark insect like labellum ready to strike
Lateral lobes on labellum curve up appearing to protect the column
Quick bite to eat before making tracks to the Holland Rocks Nature Reserve. Here we park up at the Water tank and search the south side of the road. First up I find more Dark banded greenhoods then excitedly the first wispy spider orchid is found. On the way over to see my orchid Deb also stumbles across some spider orchids. I believe these to be Chameleon spider orchids (Caladenia dimidia) which range from Paynes Find to Scaddan and flower August to October. The upswept to horizontal petals, incurved dorsal sepal and dark tail filaments lead me to this classification.
Dark brownish tail filaments
Incurved dorsal sepal
Petals backswept, elevated to horizontal
Form tight clumps
Size comparison to Deb’s fingers
Very close by we also find Sugar orchids, then further afield Deb finds lots of them and Donkey orchids. From our location the donkey orchids must be Yellow granite donkey orchid (Diuris hazeliae) which is a common inland orchid flowering August to September in a range from Paynes Find to Salmon Gums
Lateral sepals usually crossed
Size comparison to my index finger
2 to 3 basal leaves
Broad dorsal sepal
On the way back to the Triton we find other specimens of the Chameleon spider orchid. There is even a solitary pink-red variation.
Dark tipped petals and sepals
The pink-red variation
Fairly slender petals and sepals
We keep following the Trip notes and make our way NE to Silver Wattle Hill Nature Reserve. We jump out and find the track leading to what we hoped was a spot where the original Holland Track had carved wheel ruts into the granite. No luck in finding the wheel ruts however we were lucky enough to find some orchids. On the walk we found Sugar orchids, Wispy spider orchids (unknown species) and a Cowslip orchid and Jug orchid.
Sorry not the best photo
Close-up of calli
Solid red lines rather than dots or thin lines
So a bit disheartened that we did not find the old wheel ruts we also check south of the spot we had parked up. Lucky we did as I found a Blue beard (Pheladenia deformis) on the edge of the granite rock, a Drooping spider orchid (Caladenia radialis) which flower August to early October in a range from Northampton to Jerramungup, growing in the Resurrection Plant. Deb found another Wispy spider orchid also growing in a Resurrection Plant. Unable to confidently name the species though.
Dense calli on labellum
Top down view
Upright purplish-blue labellum
Often drooping dorsal sepal
Red striped, smooth margined labellum
Drooping petals and lateral sepals
Leaving Silver Wattle Hill N.R. we again follow the Trip notes and make our way through Lake Biddy (abandoned townsite) into Dragon Rocks Nature Reserve from the south. We actually have to drive through a farmers property which felt a bit intrusive, but we then passed through a gate into the Nature Reserve. Less than 3km into the reserve we find the rock and set about setting up camp, lighting a fire, cooking dinner, having a few drinks, talking some BS and then hitting the sack. It has been a great day following the Trip Notes and finding at least 9 different orchid species, with a couple of unknown Wispy spiders thrown in.
The previous afternoon in the fading light we checked out the area around the camper where we found little but rubbish. Deb and I split up for the walk back to the camper and I was lucky enough to stumble across a shell orchid in a runoff. No camera or phone so returned this morning to grab a snap. They appear to be the Dwarf shell orchid (Pterostylis brevichila) as they do not have a protruding labellum. They flower July through September in a range between Hyden and Mt Ragged. Found a few more so grabbed some pics before heading off to Broomehill, where we are meeting up with Richard.
Size comparison of the first found orchid
Short, straight labellum, not visible in the set position
Brown-striped and white flowers
Large colonies of leaves with very few flowering plants.
Four to five stem leaves, 10 – 25mm long and 4 to 5mm wide.
Size comparison to index finger
Appears to be laughing
We make our way back to the South Coast Hwy and head west to Kukenarup memorial, another favourite haunt. Straight up we find a Dancing spider orchid (Caladenia discoidea) which flower August to early October in a range from Israelite Bay to Kalbarri.
Four or more rows of purplish black calli
Single erect hairy leaf 80 to 180mm long
Horizontally spreading petals and lateral sepals
Many more donkey orchids were found which appear to be the South coast donkey orchid (Diuris sp. ‘south coast’) due to the recurved lateral sepals. The Green range donkey orchid occupies the same range however is recorded as having reflexed lateral sepals. Also located was a great specimen of the Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) which flower August to October from Geraldton to Israelite Bay.
Up to 10 flowers
Broad petals and dorsal sepal
Growing in the good olde prickly Resurrection Plant
Prominently recurved lateral sepals, joined at the base
Up to 5 flowers
Time to move on, so we make tracks for Jerramungup, where we stop for toilets and also purchased some forgotten items. Next stop is just past Ongerup, in Jaekel St, where we find more donkey orchids. This time though they appear to be Green Range donkey orchids (Diuris littoralis) which flower July to September from Denmark to Esperance. Nearby though are some pale yellow donkey orchids which could be Western wheatbelt donkey orchids (Diuris brachyscapa) which flower July to September in a range bordered by York, Tenterden and Ravensthorpe. The back on the Gnowangerup-Jerramungup Road we find the Green range donkey orchid in large numbers.
Up to 10 flowers
Reflexed lateral seapls
Nice group shot
Broad petals and dorsal sepal
So many plants
Labellum – Broad spreading lateral lobes and a broad, flattened to convex mid lobe
Pale yellow brown marked flowers
Also located in these areas were a few scattered Sugar orchids (Ericksonella saccharata), which are found over a huge range from Paynes find to Israelite Bay, flowering during August and September. Plus a nice bright yellow Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava), which flowers July to early December in a range from Geraldton to Israelite Bay.
Common inland orchid
White horizontal petals and lateral sepals
Yellow , red marker flowers
Arriving in Broomehill half an hour late, we find Richard and his matching Red Triton and camper parked outside the hotel. We make our way on foot to the Henry Jones Winery & Café for a coffee and one of the best BLT in Turkish bread ever. A leisurely walk back to the Tritons through the village of Broomehill, then we head out to an old historic bridge for a look. At the Wadjekanup Bridge we put the Tritons through a river crossing which they pass with flying colours. If only the water was this clear on the Holland Track !!!!.
Waiting on the BLT’s
Having lunch in Broomehill
Now the adventure really begins. We head north out of Broomehill, before turning right over the railway line and onto a single lane track. Welcome to the “Holland Track”. Looks great so far, as we drive down between green farming fields, before turning west into a patch of bush. Here we chose to camp the night, at a nice early time of 4.15pm. After making camp, I decide to check out the location for any orchids. Deb and Richard are collecting wood and lighting our camp fire, when I stumble across some large bright Cowslip orchids and a large hood of Hairy-stemmed snail orchids (Pterostylis sp. ‘inland’)
Minimal red markings on this specimen
Hood of snails – pale members
Hairs on stem clearly visible
Debbie and Richard now join the hunt. Many more Cowslips and Snail orchids were found. Debbie also finds some great Blue beards (Pheladenia deformis) which flower late May to October between Murchison River and Israelite Bay in WA, plus they are also found in NSW, VIC, TAS and SA.
Petals held back
Uniformly coloured petals and sepals
The so called beard is much darker than the rest of the orchid
Getting late and with fading light we head back to the camp fire for a relaxing night after such a great day finding 10 orchid species.
After a morning at work, my 1/2 RDO arrives, so I race home to catch a bite to eat with Tim before we make our final pack of the Triton and camper. Off to Puma for diesel, then back home as we forgot the porta loo. Finally on the road by 2.30pm with our first planned stop being Overshot Hill rest area north of Ravensthorpe. However Debbie has other ideas. At 4.30pm she pulls over to our spot on Mills Road, just past Munglinup. I jump out of the Triton and immediately spy a small clump of spider orchids. They appear to be the Cream spider orchid (Caladenia horistes), which flower August to early October in a range from Fitzgerald River National Park to Balladonia.
Spreading to pendulous petals and lateral sepals
Nice clumping of orchids
Up to 2 cream to creamy-yellow flowers
Relatively large labellum
Creamy-white, red-striped labellum
Close by are our first South coast donkey orchids (Diuris sp. ‘south coast’) of the season. These are found between Denmark and Munglinup during the period, late June to August.
Up to 10 flowers per plant
Tri-lobed labellum with broad, spreading lateral lobes and a broad, flattened to convex mid lobe.
Recurved lateral sepals
Broad petals and dorsal sepal
Also found were some Western tiny blue orchids (Cyanicula aperta), which flower August to early October in a range from Dumbleyung to Mt Ragged.
Reddish-mauve prominently tri-lobed labellum
Short horizontal petals and lateral sepals
A few metres away Debbie finds some Hairy-stemmed snail orchids (Pterostylis sp. ‘inland’) and other spider orchids.
Erect lateral seapls
Common inland, extremely variable snail orchid
We then nearly step on some Zebra orchids (Caladenia cairnsiana) which flower August to early November in a range from Esperance to Lancelin. These were intermixed with more spider orchids.
Glandular apex to labellum
Red striped labellum with dense central band of calli
Short hanging petals and lateral sepals
Nearly 5pm so we make our way to our planned overnight stay at Overshot Hill rest area in the Nature Reserve of the same name. Unsure if the other spider orchids are also Cream spider orchids or other species from the Wispy complex. Feel free to comment as to the species name for the images below.
We are busy organising ourselves for our 2 week road trip, so given this is our final weekend, we take a few hours break and head out to Helm’s Arboretum (Mud Map SE35) to see what is flowering now. We make our way to the plot we usually find many snail orchids, however the first orchid found is the small Western Tiny Blue Orchid (Cyanicula aperta). These little beauties are found August to early October in a range from Dumbleyung and Mt Ragged.
50 – 150mm tall
Short horizontal spreading petals and lateral sepals
Two rows of bright yellow calli
Then we stumble across the snail orchids we had come to see. Still unable to name this species due to it not matching up with any of my reference books on location and or description. Variation in rosettes may infer they are actually 2 species.
Sparse rosette of long stemmed leaves
Not a slender snail
Narrowly clubbed sepals
Standing tall with a shorter version
Next I find the usual Esperance king spider orchids (Caladenia decora) in flower.
Size of flower compared to my hand
White red-tipped labellum
Spreading petals and lateral sepals
Whilst I take photos of the spider orchids Deb gets chatting to a fellow orchid enthusiast who shares with us her location of some Southern curly locks (Thelymitra uliginosa) within Helm’s Arboretum. We make our way to the said location and after around 15 mins of searching we find these small orchids flowering in the beautiful sunshine. The flowers themselves are only a 10c piece in size. These flower August and September in a range from Northcliffe and Mt Manypeaks with disjunct populations in Esperance and Perth.
2 erect ear like lateral lobes
Distinctive column with mid lobe and two erect ear like lobes
Up to 2, rarely 3, flowers per stem
Distinctive striped flowers
Opens in bright sunshine
Typical sun orchid- facing the sun
Spiral leaf – Narrow up to 90mm in length
Flowers 20 – 30 mm accross
100 to 300mm in height
Forward projecting mid lobe to column
Deep blue-mauve striped flowers
So happy to have found some Southern curly-locks as the one and only previously found plant we could not be located this year.
Saying our goodbyes to Kirstie and Hamish we set off for a leisurely trip home to Esperance. Usually a 7 to 8 hr drive over 725km, we however take 15hrs, as we make numerous stops to hunt for orchids. Our first destination is Mount Dale in the Helena National Park. The wind is very chilly, however we brave this on our search for some orchid colour. We are not disappointed. First colour spotted is “yellow”. A Donkey orchid is found, but which one?? I’m making the call for the Winter donkey orchid (Diuris brumalis) which flower late June to August in a range from Jurien Bay to Collie. They prefer lateritic or granitic soils and up here in the hills that is the soil types encountered. Other specimens were found throughout our search of this area.
Short, erect, very broad dorsal sepal
Yet to fully open
Up to 15 flowers
Broad, elongated petals
Hanging lateral sepals
Close to our first donkey the next colour found is “pink”. Little pink fairy orchid (Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans) is found growing in the shelter of a granite boulder. These little beauties flower July to early October in a range from Northampton to Esperance. Singles, pairs and groupings are found in our extended search.
Deb then finds the colour “green”. A small patch of snail orchids hidden in a bush so only one visible for a photo. Could not see the rosette however based on location, pointed hood with brownish tones and medium sized lateral sepals, I will be naming it as Slender snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘crinkled leaf”). These flower late June to September in a large range from Perth down to Albany. Another patch yet to fully flower was found and the rosettes appear to confirm my classification.
Often pointed hood
Pushing up through thick scrubbery
Crinkled leaf rossette
Another species of “mixed” colour is found by Deb. Once again hidden or protected near a granite boulder. It appears to be an Autumn leek orchid (Prasophyllum parvifolium) which has been fertilised.
Pinkish tones belies the species
Possible pollinator on one of the flowers
Next is a similarly “mixed” coloured orchid, which I found after pushing into the scrub for a few metres. Firstly I found a large patch of leaves and then with a slower look some orchids flowering were discovered. The genus of Cyrtostylis is known, but which species is it? By the smaller , duller flowers they must be the Midge orchid (Cyrtostylis huegelli) which is found from Kalbarri to east of Esperance during July and September.
Many leaves, only a few flowering so far
Forward facing labellum, sepals and petals.
Dull red, green, fawn flowers
Narrower labellum than the related Mosquito orchid
Well Mount Dale proved a good hunting ground with 5 species flowering, plus Jug and Bird orchids yet to flower found. Already 2.5 hrs (65kms) into our drive home, so we better move on, or we will break our 12 hr record for the drive home. Next stop planned is Williams Road (Mud Map SE6) however we detour into Westdale Road (Mud Map SE5) to see if we can find some of the species listed in the guide. First off we find the Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) which flowers August to October in a range from Geraldton and Israelite Bay.
One flower in 3 stages of bloom
Deb is off exploring further whilst I slowly finish taking phone and camera pics of the Jug orchid. Only 2 mtrs away I find the Blood spider orchid (Caladenia filifera) and call Deb back to see. On the way back she also finds other specimens less than a metre off her original walk track. They are so hard to see until you find them , then they stick out more easily as we continue searching.
Glistening in the sun
Blood red in colour
Long pendulous petals and lateral sepals
Uniformly blood red flowers
Disbursed around the area are Common donkey orchids (Diuris corymbosa) which flower August to October in a range from Gingin to Bunbury and inland to near Brookton, our actual location funnily enough.
Up to eight flowers per plant
Often crossed lateral sepals
Broad erect dorsal sepal
Another new find for the season is the Blue beard (Phelandenia deformis) which flower late May to October in a range from Murchison River to Israelite Bay. Only 3 small flowers found but still it is a new one for this season.
Short spreading petals and sepals
It is now 4 hrs since we left and we have only covered 90kms of the distance home. Better get a move on. 20kms later we arrive at Williams Road (Mud Map SE6) where we had planned to explore for at least an hour as Deb had quickly checked this out on Tuesday when she drove to Perth, when she found at least 4 species flowering. First up we locate some more Common donkey orchids before Deb calls me over to a patch of at least 3 species in close proximity.
Broad elongated petals
Short, labellum mid lobe
First up are Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) and Hairy-stemmed snail orchids (Pterostylis sp. ‘inland’).
Up to 14 stem leaves and 25 flowers per plant
Then as previously found in this location, there are Shell orchids everywhere. Many are finished as they flower from May to August. Mud Map records both Red and Brown veined shell orchids here in July so we have missed the peak flowering period it seems. From the flowering plants I believe them to be Red-veined shell orchids (Pterostylis hamiltonii) as they are darker coloured and most have the labellum protruding from the hood formed by the dorsal sepal and petals. These flower in a range from Toodyay to the Stirling Range in woodlands and Rock Sheoak thickets.
Also located close-by are some Little pink fairy orchids. So 4 species all within a 3 square metres area. Great find Deb.
Leaf tinged purple on the underside
Squat petals and lateral sepals
Labellum – Gives the common name away
Other species found during our search were Dark banded greenhood (Pterostylis sanguinea) and Jug orchid. Also found was a meeting of Banded greenhood and Shells plus a Banded greenhood with a huge inflorescence.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
It’s now after 1.15pm and we have only travelled 110km of the 725km trip. Back to the Triton and a huge patch of spent shells is found plus the very first Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) for the season. These flower from north of Geraldton to Israelite Bay during July to December.
Carpets of shell orchids
Such bright yellow
Onwards to Brookton where we grabbed a Parmi Wrap for lunch. (Parma for Farmer – raising funds for drought relief in NSW/QLD). Eating whilst driving to catch up some time our next planned stop is the Corrigin Wildflower Trail which goes around the airport and is part of the Corrigin Nature Reserve. Taking the road in from the Dog Cemetery our first find are some more Little pink fairies
Nothing else found so onwards we go at a slow pace, then I jump out to walk and find some Frog greenhoods (Pterostylis sargentii) which flower between July and October in a range from Northampton to Grasspatch. They are very small and growing underneath bushes, making photo taking a lay down on the job task. Further Frog greenhoods are found along the trail.
Cupped lateral sepals
Green to dark-brown, white banded flowers
Bright green colouring in the sunshine
Up to 6 flowers per plant
Glistening in the sunshine
Up to 10 stem leaves
Fleshy, tri-lobed, frog-like labellum
Further along the track whilst walking I spy some nice snail orchids. They are the Robust snail orchid (Pterostylis dilatata). Another grouping was found further along by Deb whilst driving slowly along.
Standing up to 150mm in height
Erect, clubbed lateral sepals
3 to 5 stem leaves
Nice group shot
A sole Jug orchid was also found just yawning like a Pelican and further along what appears to be Pterostylis arbuscular which is a Mallee form of banded greenhood. No common name yet.
Slowly opening – Pelican yawning!!
Not yet opened
Finally a donkey orchid was found. Based on location alone this must be the Western wheatbelt donkey orchid (Diuris brachyscapa) which flowers July to September between York, Tenterden and Ravensthorpe. Corrigin is slightly east of the line York to Ravensthorpe.
Pale yellow, brown marked flowers
Up to four flowers per palnt
Short, broad dorsal sepal
Narrow, hanging, often reflexed, crossed lateral sepals
Nearly 4pm, or 8hrs into our trip home and we have only completed 220km of the 725km required. Best move on to our next planned stop, Macrocarpa Trail near Kulin. Just before 5pm Deb finds our first orchid of this trail. Appears to be Hairy-stemmed snail orchids.
Lateral sepals up to 35mm in length
Side n rear views
Standing up to 150mm in height
Extremely variable species
Time for a chat
up to 3 stem leaves
Also found further Frog greenhoods, Robust snail orchids, Dark banded greenhoods and another possible Pterostlyis arbuscular.
Nice double header
Variable coloured greenhood ..Possible common name
Then as the light is fading fast we venture into the bush and finally there they are.. Spider orchids in flower. We now rush to get as many photos as possible .. They are so small and with the fading light our photos are not the best but we need to record the find. From the location and size I believe we found the Common spider orchid (Caladenia vulgata) and the Pendant spider orchid (Caladenia pendens subsp. pendens) which both flower during August. The former July to October and the latter August to early October. The Common spider orchid ranges from Kalbarri to Esperance whilst the Pendant spider orchid ranges from Wongan Hills and Walpole. The Length of the petals and lateral sepals are a distinguishing feature.
Found in a variety of habitats
Tangle of petals and sepals
Latin, vulgaris means common, ordinary
Standing 150 to 300mm high
creamy-white red striped labellum
Slightly less pendulous that the Common spider orchid
Relatively broad red-striped labellum
Long pendulous petals and lateral sepals
The sun finally sets on our orchid hunting so we make tracks via Lake Grace for Steak Burger / Fish n chips dinner. Then after 15hrs we arrive home at 11pm. Long day however very happy at finding 20 species of orchid.
Went for a quick walk around the lake at dusk, with my daughter Kirstie and we found lots of leaves for Caladenia sp. but no orchids in bloom found. As it was getting cold and late ,we gave up and went back to her home.
Beautiful sunny morning so Kirstie, Hamish, Deb and I went to check out a couple of garage sales. On the way back Deb and I pop back into the bush around Yangebup Lake and we visit the patch of leaves Kirstie and I found late yesterday afternoon. Further in the scrub Deb locates some snail orchids in flower. No phone or camera in my possession so I plan on coming back later this morning to grab some photos. After playing Mario Racing on the Nintendo Switch, I quickly pop back and grab some photos. On checking the Field Guide I believe the snail orchid to be the Murdoch snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘cauline leaves’) due to location, numerous stem leaves and short lateral sepals. These orchids range from Perth and Walpole and flower August to September.
80 – 250mm in height
4 – 10 stem leaves
This is the first orchid recorded from the Perth metropolitan area in my BLOG. Was hoping to find more but one is a start.