I have listed the orchids found in chronological order
I have listed the orchids found in chronological order
We wake up to a beautiful sunny spring morning. A leisurely breakfast was enjoyed as we know our destination today, so no need to rush. It’s after 9am before we finally leave Flat Rock Nature Reserve and head off in an easterly direction down the Kulin-Holt Rock Road. We reach Lake Varley and pull over on the side of the road and decide to check out the flat granite outcrop, which we later find is a part of the Lake Varley Nature Reserve.
Deb finds the first orchid growing under the scrub at the edge of the rock. The wonderful yellow donkey orchids are again flowering at the edge of the rock under the protection of the scrubs. The Western wheatbelt donkey orchid (Diuris brachyscapa) is know to grow in the region with sightings recorded in Atlas of Living Australia. Kulin shire is also one of the Local Government Areas (LGA) listed in Florabase as being a location for this orchid. Links to these resources are found via the “+” sign at the bottom of every page.
Close by some wispy spider orchids are found. Due the creamy colouring of the flowers they appear to be the Cream spider orchid (Caladenia horistes) which flowers from August to early-October over an easterly range from Fitzgerald River National Park to Balladonia, however Kulin LGA is listed in Florabase as a location for this orchid.
Another yellow orchid pops up. The wonderful Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) is such a cheerful orchid to find. Bright yellow flowers with such random markings; from spots, stripes, blotches to barely none at all. This little grouping has mainly spots. The view back to the Triton provides an indication of the habitat we are exploring.
Other orchids found were a solitary Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata) and Hairy-stemmed snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘inland’) . Both have vast inland ranges and flower during September.
Then a perfect specimen of the Drooping spider orchid (Caladenia radialis) is found in all it’s glory. Another inland orchid but only found from Northampton to Jerramungup, so not as widespread as the Sugar or Hairy stemmed Snail orchids.
Well now the Ant orchid (Caladenia roei) turns up to entertain us. They are said to resemble a crucifix due to the petals and lateral sepals.
Then came across more Sugar orchids and a grouping of Western wheatbelt donkey orchids before finally heading back to the Triton. Last small orchids found were the Little laughing leek orchid (Prasophyllum gracile) which were camouflaged well in the moss on the granite rock.
Time to move onto our next place to explore. We detour a slight bit to check out Holt Rock. We drive into the day use area of Holt Rock but chose not to go for an exploration, though it looks like a great place to check out another time. Further south we arrive at Varley and go check out a place on the map named Dempster Rock. After a little searching we find a track into the approximate area. Looking out our windows we are rewarded with orchids.
Some old favourites were the first found. Sugar orchids and Jug orchids (Pterostylis recurva) . Both are common orchids but always a pleasure to find.
Then the spider orchids start jumping out of the woodlands. They have strong yellow tonings and therefore appear to be the Chameleon spider orchid (Caladenia dimidia) which flowers July to September in the range Paynes Find to Norseman. My references refer to them being yellow, cream or pink-red in colour with either a small pale yellow or pale white red striped labellum. Whiter specimens are found close by.
Identifying the spider orchids is difficult given many overlap in locations and they have similar features. The Western wispy spider orchid and the Ironcaps spider orchid both also have smaller labellums than others plus the Ironcaps spider orchid also varies in colour from creamy-white to pale yellow. All three orchids are shown as being located in the Varley area in the Atlas of Living Australia.
Now we do find other orchids as well, so I will mention these ones now before adding more varied spider orchid photos. Hairy-stemmed snail orchids, Blue beards (Pheladenia deformis), Little laughing leek orchids, sugar orchids and Western wheatbelt donkey orchids are found.
The most amazing find though was a Midget greenhood (Pterostylis mutica). The reason for my amazement – is it’s height of 190mm. The tallest I have ever seen. These orchids are found in all the states of Australia which is quite amazing.
Now back to these other spider orchids. Firstly we found more Drooping spider orchids or are they? Possible hybrid with the c. dimidia as the labellum is very pale in colour with smooth margins. So I will leave the actual identification for now.
Then other spider orchids found. Some in clumps and some in isolation but all beautiful as ever. Some white, whilst others had reddish tones. Any help in naming these would be appreciated.
Getting peckish, so we finally leave this great new location and head back to Varley then down to Lake King for a meal at the tavern. After a great counter lunch and beer, we cruise further south to one of our favourite patches, Pallarup Rock. Located in the Pallarup Nature Reserve this location proves a fruitful orchid patch on most visits. Today is no exception. Within minutes we locate the first of many orchids. The Pink candy orchid (Caladenia hirta subsp. rosea) is found in many colour variations. This first one is very pale but others are bright pink.
Next up we find some donkey orchids. The Western wheatbelt donkey orchid has been recorded in the Lake Grace shire whilst the other possible orchid, the Green Range donkey orchid is recorded in the Ravensthorpe shire which is nearer the coast. The basal leaves observed are not that wide which is causing me some angst in trying to ID them, so I will just posts the pics.
We now move onto the track to the water tank and at the junction find some more Sugar orchids. Then on the side of this track the first orchids found are Frog greenhoods (Pterostylis sargentii) which was named in honour of Oswald Sargent in 1905. He was an early West Australian orchidologist and pharmacist from York, where the specimen used to name it was collected in 1904.
Moving along the track the first of the spider orchids appear. The first one is an excellent example of the wispy complex. As there is one lonely specimen I will not attempt to name it, as there are too many variables with these wispy spider orchids. It could be one of three known to this location or a hybrid between two of them.
Close by is another spider orchid, but from the White spider orchid compex this time.
As the sepals and petals are not that pendulous I believe this to be the Rigid white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. rigidula) which is found between Ravensthorpe and Israelite bay from August to October. Florabase records Lake Grace and Dundas LGA’s as also being the location of this orchid, so 50kms north of Ravensthorpe in the Lake Grace shire seems appropriate.
EDIT: With thanks to Margaret’s assistance (refer comments) the ID has been clarified as an unnamed subspecies of Caladenia longicauda. I will provide my own common name as Pallarup Rock white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. ‘Pallarup Rocks’). Exciting to find a new subspecies.
A small blue orchid catches Deb’s eagle eye. A lone china orchid is found. This pretty blue orchid has not been found in this location on any of our numerous prior visits, so this is an exciting find.
Due to the darker blue colouring, scattered calli on labellum and the location this orchid must be the Blue china orchid (Cyanicula gemmata) which has the largest range of all china orchids in WA, being from Kalbarri to Israelite Bay. Flowering period is August to early-November. The one feature that did cause me confusion with the ID was the colour of the labellum, as the mostly blue labellum conflicted with the pictures in my references, which show the labellum as being mostly white or blue striped.
EDIT: With thanks to Margaret’s assistance (refer comments) the ID has been clarified as the Granite china orchid (Cyanicula nikulinskyae) which is restricted to a range between Fitzgerald River National Park and Israelite Bay. My location is 50kms north of this coastline. Flowering period is September to early-November.
Further white spider orchids were found and their features confirm my identification as Rigid white spider orchids. Also another wispy spider orchid is found and this one appears to be the Common spider orchid (Caladenia vulgata) which as the name suggests is found over a large area, from Kalbarri to Esperance, flowering during the period July to mid-October.
Next up we come across some Ant orchids. They are also known as Clown orchid, Man orchid and Jack-in-the Box.
More yellow patches are seen growing in the Pincushion plant (Borya constricta) and Sundew (Drosera). The Lemon-scented sun orchids (Thelymitra antennifera) are another widespread orchid which flower from July to October. The latin name antennifer (antennae) refers to the little lobes on the column.
Many more spider orchids are found together with patches of Cowslips and Blue beards popping up here and there. A wonderful kaleidoscope of colours.
A relative of the Ant orchid is also found in the scrub around the rock. The Short-sepaled spider orchid (Caladenia brevisura) is a common orchid found between Ravensthorpe to Israelite Bay. We have previously found these orchids east of Esperance at Condingup so we have now found them at both edges of their range.
Other orchids found in our exploration of Pallarup Rock are the Jug orchid, Little laughing leek orchid and Hairy-stemmed snail orchid (or is it?) .
4.30 in the afternoon so time to move on to Ravensthorpe for our overnight stay. We spend our last night of our road trip as we did on our first night. Staying with our son, Timothy in his little duplex unit in Ravensthorpe.
Went to bed happy to have discovered at least 19 species today, which is amazing. Also a tinge of sadness as tomorrow is our final day.
Whilst having breakfast we are walking around in the sunshine when I spy what appears to be a black poly pipe coming from the leach drain of the Septic Tank at the back of the toilets. However it then moved and scared the beejesus out of me. I called out to Deb who arrived in time to see it wriggle backwards back into its hole. Whoa we steer clear of that area as we pack up. We drove around the back of the toilets as we left and it was back out, sunning itself. It lifted it’s head to watch us move by.
So we now make our way further east to a place called Roe Dam. The dam was initially planned in 1929 but put off as too costly and was finally built in 1970/71, to provide the Mt Walker farming community with water. The catchment area is 140 acres (56ha) of granite rock and the dam holds 20 million gallons (91 million litres). We pull into the old picnic area as the dam area appears to be out of bounds. This old area has working toilets and shade to park up so all good. First stop for the day so off we go exploring.
First orchids found are the Hairy-stemmed snail orchids (Pterostylis sp. ‘inland’) which as the name suggests are easily identified by their hairy stem. Other than this they are extremely variable in appearance ranging from 50 to 250mm in height, lateral sepals are from 10 to 35mm in length and stem leaves can be 8 to 20mm in length.
Moving towards the granite outcrop we also find a small donkey orchid. This one is much duller than the ones found on previous days. From this it would appear to be the Western wheatbelt donkey orchid (Diuris brachyscapa) which flowers from July to September in locations east of the Albany highway from York down to Tenterden then east to Ravensthorpe. Florabase records the Narembeen shire as one such location.
Then nearby a splash of blue catches our eye. On closer inspection it is a Blue beard (Pheladenia deformis) which is a common orchid found from the Murchison River to Israelite Bay, as well as all the other southern states of Australia. They were originally classified as Caladenia back in 1810, then placed in Pheladenia in 2001.
Another orchid was found in the company of a snail orchid. The Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata) is another common inland orchid, being found from Paynes Find to Israelite Bay. It is a distinctive white flowering orchid with purple lined labellum lobes.
Then just before we reach the granite another type of orchid is found. The Ant orchid (Caladenia roei) is one of the most regularly encountered orchids of the Wheatbelt. It flowers from Eurardy Station to Ravensthorpe during the months August to October. Named in honour of John Septimus Roe, the first surveyor general of WA in 1873.
Upon reaching the granite outcrop, we slowly ascent and find another donkey orchid growing in the vegetated sections of the rock. The bright Yellow granite donkey orchid (Diuris hazeliae) is found again which is not surprising as they range from Paynes Find to Salmon Gums over the months of August and September. It is great to find 2 species of Diuris in the one location.
I get caught up taking lots of photos and Deb gets to scout ahead. She calls out that she has found loads of Little laughing leek orchids (Prasophylum gracile) of both colour variations. So over I trot to grab some photos and there is Deb laying down getting her own shots. These little guys are very widespread and flower over a 4 mth season.
We are now looking down at the dam, which is fenced off so we decide to descend to the woodlands below and make our way back to the picnic area. As soon as we leave the rock and enter the woodlands we discover another spider orchid. This time it is the Drooping spider orchid (Caladenia radialis) which are found from Northampton to Jerramungup during the period August to October. As the name suggests both the petals and sepals usually droop down. We find loads of these orchids throughout the woodlands, many in clumps, which is a feature of this orchid.
Intermixed with all the drooping spider orchids were more Blue beards, Ant orchids and the favourite Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) which we have not seen for a while now (Last found 31/8 in Bunbury).
Now there was one special little orchid found which had yet to fully unfurl, but we had to grab a photo or two. It appears to be a hypochromic Drooping spider orchid.
Time to move on, so we jump in the Triton and head south to Hidden Hollow at Mt Walker. First up we have a bite for lunch then decide to take the Hidden Hollow Walk Trail. There is a small dam built at the base of the rock. The sign advises it was built to wash out the hessian bags which were then dried on the rock. This pre-dated the introduction of bulk handling of grain and fertilizer.
We make it to the so called Amphitheatre without sighting any orchids which was disappointing. However in the wet moss on the rocks below this feature Deb finds many more Little laughing leek orchids. Some of them are really dark in colour.
As the rock did not produce much in the way of orchids we decide to make the way back to the parking area via the woodlands at the base of the granite. Within minutes we have found a different orchid. The common Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) is found. This is by far the most common and widespread of the four subspecies. In close proximity is the likeable Ant orchid
A little further along we discover one then many more Fringed mantis orchids (Caladenia falcata) which flower from August to October over a range from Wongan Hills to Jerramungup. Distinctive feature are upswept lateral sepals which are narrowly clubbed.
Among all these Fringed mantis orchids are other Ant orchids and a lonely Sugar orchid. Plus some greenhoods were found, however they had finished their flowering and had closed up. Then one was found with two flowers still open and from the colouring, size of plant and number of flowers I believe this to be the Mallee banded greenhood (Pterostylis arbuscula) which flower until early September in inland locations from Northampton to Eyre.
Then to top of our finds we come across some wonderful Caladenia hybrids. The Spectacular spider orchid (Caladenia x spectabilis) is a hybrid between the Cowslip orchids (Caladenia flava) and the Pink fairy (Caladenia latifolia). Narembeen is a location for both these parents so seems fitting we find their babies.
We make it back to the Triton and decide to head off without really knowing where we will stop next. Taking the road back towards Narembeen, we actually miss the town as we come out south of it on the Kondinin-Narembeen Road. We drive through Kondinin and move down towards Kulin, where we decide to check out the below pictured trail again, which is located just out of Kulin.
The trail is around 1.1km in length, so off we trot on our search for orchids. First up we come across some Jug orchids, which are unique in the shape of their flowers. Other common names are: Recurved shell orchid, Antelope orchid and Bull orchid.
Next up we find some small white spider orchids. From the size of the labellum I will be calling these ones the Western wispy spider orchids (Caladenia microchila) which flower from July to October over an inland range of Kondinin to Madura.
Then we move from white spider orchids to green spider orchids. A wonderful pair of Fringed mantis orchids is found. Their leaves were so healthy when compared to other mantis orchids found, so just had to get a photo of them.
Now time to find orchids that are not from the Caladenia genre. Lucky for us the small Frog greenhoods (Pterostylis sargentii) start to appear along the side of the track. Found from Northampton to Grasspatch during the season July to October, the Frog greenhood is a common inland orchid.
Then we find a bevy of orchids of different types within cooee of each other. There is the Sugar orchid, Jug orchid, Mallee banded greenhood and Hairy-stemmed snail orchid.
Whilst jostling around to get the photos a lone speck of pink catches my eye. There is a Little pink fairy (Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans) which cannot be seen from the track, however as I was off the track taking photos it came into view. These little beauties grow from July till October between Northampton and Esperance.
Further along the track a donkey orchid appears. Then others show up the more we explore. The ID is difficult as the single one appears bright yellow with dark markings, which is akin to the Yellow granite donkey orchid, however the mutli flowered one is paler with lighter marking so appears to be the Western wheatbelt donkey orchid. Florabase records Kulin as a location for the later only so I will leave it up to others the help with the positive ID.
Further orchids found, however nothing new so took a few more pics before heading back to the Triton for the final leg of today.
Heading east from Kulin we turn south towards Pingaring to see if there was somewhere to camp overnight. We drove around the edge of the bush block that incorporated the golf course and Nature Reserve but there was no obvious place to stay. So back to the Kulin-Holt Rock Road. Heading further east we finally pull into a gravel pit at the edge of Flat Rock Nature Reserve. This will be our camp for the night.
So today was very much unplanned but we found loads of orchids, which is great. We found 15 species, 1 hybrid and 1 hypochromic orchid, so definitely one of our better days this trip. After a beautiful sunset we hit the sack.
Waking up to a beautiful sunny morning I take a quick check of the scrub behind Mary-lou’s property. I find a small spider orchid so grab a quick photo with my Samsung phone. I then head back to enjoy breakfast and a nice hot shower. Quick photo shoot with Ian and Mary-lou before I take Deb and Mary-lou back to the orchid I found. Another quick check before it is time to make tracks again.
This orchid appears to be the Common spider orchid (Caladenia vulgata) due to the size of the labellum. These orchids flower over a large range from Kalbarri to Esperance during the months July to early-October.
No other orchids founds, so we bid farewell to Burakin and make our way east along the Bonnie Rock-Burakin Road. Checking out the Hema Map we decide to detour to Mollerin (Lake) Nature Reserve. Firstly we venture down Chapman Road to the reserve but there is no real access so we make the decision to back-track and hit the reserve via the Kulja-Mollerin Rock road, which turned out to be a fortuitous decision. On the track into the parking area we spy orchids from the vehicle. Pulling over we jump out to grab some photos and have a quick scout around.
First up Deb finds some Drooping spider orchids (Caladenia radialis) which occur mostly inland from Northampton to Jerramungup, flowering from August to early-October. The drooping nature of the petals, lateral sepals and usually the dorsal sepal confirms the common name.
Nearby are two colour variations of the Ant orchid (Caladenia roei), greenish-yellow and red. These little guys can grow to 300mm in height and rare specimens have 3 flowers per orchid. They are known to hybridise with many other Caladenia orchids.
Also found were some donkey orchids. The bright yellow colouring and the location points to the Yellow granite donkey orchid (Diuris hazeliae). Found near inland granite and breakaway habitat from Paynes Find to Salmon gums, flowering during the months of August and September.
Mixed in with these three different species were a couple of wispy spider orchids. Choosing between a few possible species I am going to call them the Outback spider orchid (Caladenia remota subsp. remota), due to the larger labellum, creamy colouring and location found.
Then unexpectedly we came across an old concrete sheep dipping station. These were built by the Shire of Koorda in 1944 as shared facilities for local farmers, financed by the Agricultural Bank. It was after grabbing some photos that we decided to quickly move back to the Triton and move on to the parking/camping area at the base of the Mollerin rock.
Now to check out the rock for some orchids. We cover quite a bit of the rock but only manage to find more Yellow granite donkey orchids.
It is not until we reach flat ground at the base of the rock do we find anything different. First up we discover some Blue beards (Pheladenia deformis), however getting a good picture of them proved challenging due to the wind. Also nearby another blue orchid is found. The Dainty blue orchid (Cyanicula amplexans) is found growing rather spindly in the green ferns under the shrubs. Struggled for a good picture of this as well. Both orchids are common inland species and flower as late as October, however their seasons start in May and August respectively.
Many, many more Drooping spider orchids where found with the occasional Yellow granite donkey orchid and Ant orchid thrown in. Some more pictures taken before we decide it is best we move on.
Leaving Mollerin Rock we head back to the Bonnie Rock Burakin Road and head east. Using the Wheatbelt Way Trail map as a guide we stop at the Datjoin Well & Rock Reserve, as a possible overnight stay. Whilst we make our mind up if we will stay here the night we decide to have a quick look around after having a cuppa. Straight up we some Ant orchids in the camping area/picnic area. These two provide a visual of the variations in colour these orchids are found.
Close by some wispy spider orchids are found. These guys are always so difficult to ID. These ones appear to be more Common spider orchids which are commonly found in clumps.
Moving into the surrounding open woodlands another Ant orchid is found, however this one is a very reddish colour with striped labellum. So what is it? After checking into my written and online references, plus asking fellow orchid enthusiasts, I confirm this little beauty is a hybrid between the Ant orchid and either the Drooping spider orchid or Common spider orchid. Due to the mostly red colouring I feel the other parent must be the Drooping spider orchid, so will be calling this orchid Caladenia radialis X Caladenia roei.
Also found as single specimens were the Blue beards, which are also referred to as Blue fairy orchid.
The most numerous orchid found was the Pink candy orchid (Caladenia hirta subsp. rosea) which is a widespread orchid found mostly inland from Kalbarri to Israelite Bay. Flowering season is also quite long, from late-June to September. They range in colour from pale to deep pink, however we found one that was white. This one lacked the pink colour, so is a hypochromic specimen which some refer to as lutea.
Finally moved over to check out the well and go for a short walk up to the rock. Close to the well we came across more Drooping spider orchids in good clumps. On the rock however we only came across some donkey orchids. Location should point to them being further Yellow granite donkey orchids, however the lateral sepals are just hanging, so I will leave the naming to others. Feel free to offer your thoughts.
Well, it is now after 4 and we need to decide if we will camp here the night. The camp ground here is rather small and uneven and there is already a caravan set up, so we decide to move on to the next camping stop on the Wheatbelt Way. Beringbooding Rock provides much more space to camp so we set up the camper, collect wood and start the fire, then enjoy a well earned rest.
Another wonderful day spend it the great outdoors. 8 orchid species found plus 1 hybrid and 1 hydrochromic orchid.
Last night we packed up the Triton and camper and made our way over to Ravensthorpe where we stayed the night with our son, Tim, in his small rental. This was to put us 2 hrs ahead so the drive to Albany would not have to be so rushed. Little did we know that Albany was not to be our destination as planned.
Leaving at a leisurely 9.00am from Tim’s place we made our first stop at the Ravensthorpe silo’s, which have been painted as large banksia trees with their associated wildlife. We have driven past, but never stopped over the years, so we actually took the time to stop and appreciate them this once.
Just east of Ravensthorpe is one of our favourite stops. Situated in the Cocanarup Timber Reserve , Kukenarup Memorial provides a 250m walk trail which always turns up an orchid or two. Today is no exception. Just before the picnic shelter, the unique Dancing spider orchid (Caladenia discoidea) is our first find,of the trip and this individual is covered in dew. These orchids flower August to October from Kalbarri to Israelite Bay.
Nothing more found close to the picnic shelter so we head off along the walk trail. First up we find some Blue beards (Pheladenia deformis) which are found over a vast area from the Murchison River to Israelite Bay during a long flowering period, May to October.
Next up are the small Frog greenhoods (Pterostylis sargentii) which flower July to October in an area between Northampton and Grasspatch. Compared to the other greenhoods these orchids have very thin stem leaves.
The the first of many donkey orchids is found. They have little markings to them and based on location could be one of three possible species. Based on the lack of colouring I will name these ones the Western wheatbelt donkey orchid (Diuris brachyscapa) which are found between York, Tenterden and Ravensthorpe during the months July through September.
Also found were the Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) which is found from Geraldton to Israelite Bay during the months August through October. Other common names for this orchid are Re-curved shell orchid, Antelope orchid and Bull orchid.
We are then lucky enough to find a nice white spider orchid in flower. This orchid also has an orchid spider hiding on it. The flower itself was not large so I will be naming this specimen the Southern white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. australora) which is found between Fitzgerald River National Park and Millar’s Point during the months of September and October. We are 1 week from September so am happy with the fact it is still August.
Time to move on, so we head west towards Jerramungup. Whilst driving we hear from Richard. He is unwell, so will vist the doctor and rest up a day to see if he will make the trip at all. We no longer need to get to Albany by 1pm so we decide to now take it more slowly and check out some other areas. Therefore our next stop is a new location on the corner of Quiss Road and South coast Hwy (Mud Map SE 26) We could not find Mud Map SE27 though which should have been on the highway just before Quiss Road. . Parking off Quiss Rd we walk along a fire break and immediately spy a Western tiny blue orchid (Cyanicula aperta) which also flower August to October however only in a smaller range from Dumbleyung to Mt Ragged. Also found nearby was another Jug orchid.
Next we find some small donkey orchids which appear different to the ones found near Ravensthorpe. The labellum is broader and the lateral sepals are not crossed. However some others found have crossed lateral sepals so I believe them to be more Western wheatbelt donkey orchids. Then another new orchid for the trip appears. The Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata) is found between Paynes Find and Israelite Bay during August and September.
Then a very colourful snail orchid is found. From the length of the lateral sepals, number of stem leaves and the shape of the rosette leaves I will be naming these the Brittle snail orchid (Pterostylis timothyi) which flower July to September in a range from Lake Cronin to Esperance.
The further we searched the more Western tiny blue orchids, Sugar orchids, Jug orchids and Brittle snail orchids were found. Then a patch of spent greenhoods was found, before a nice in flower specimen was found . Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) which have a long flowering period of April to September within a range from Perth to Balladonia.
11.30am so we had better move on. Plan to stop in Jerramungup to grab some lunch, however the cafe had closed it’s kitchen 5 mins before we got there. We cross the road to the supermarket and grab some supplies for tonight’s camp and then move on towards Ongerup. We decide to grab a bite to eat at the Yongergnow Australian Malleefowl Centre. So glad we did as the meal was awesome and very well priced. As we had previously found orchids along Jaekel Street we again stop just before the Gnowangerup-Jerramungup Road. On the left road verge is a cluster of Cowslip orchids (Caladenia flava subsp.flava) which flower over 6mths from July to December in a vast range from Geraldton to Israelite Bay.
Whilst I’m busy taking photos of the cowslips, Debbie has skirted further into the scrub in her search. She calls out that she has found a different spider orchid, so I push my way towards her. However on my way in I stumble across a donkey orchid. This one appears to be the Green Range donkey orchid (Diuris littoralis) which is found flowering from July to September in a coastal, near coastal range from Denmark to Esperance. The darker markings set them apart from the Western wheatbelt donkey orchid which is much paler.
Then I arrive at Debbie’s spider orchid. Yes it is a new species for this trip. Debbie has found the Drooping spider orchid (Caladenia radialis) which flowers during the months August to October in a range from Northampton to Jerramungup. It is quite distinctive with its usually smooth-margined labellum and dense band of calli.
Further afield we find some sugar orchids and large numbers of donkey orchids. Deb heads back to the Triton whilst I make my way to the Gnowangerup – Jerramungup Road .
Parking the Triton on the Gnowangerup – Jerramungup Road , Deb joins me to check a patch where more donkeys orchids can be seen. There I come across a poor green spider orchid that had been eaten by insects. Thinking this may be the only one found , I grab a photo. Then close by more green spider orchids are found. They are Fringed mantis orchids (Caladenia falcata) which flower between Wongan Hills and Jerramungup during the months August to October.
Also found around the green spider orchids were many more donkey, cowslip, sugar and drooping spider orchids.
It’s nearly 2pm so we had better keep moving. We drive through Gnowangerup and onto Tambellup. From here we head south along the Great Southern Highway and pull into Wansbrough Nature Reserve looking for a possible overnight stop. Coincidentally this is also a Mud Map location. (Mud Map SC 13) On the drive into the reserve we spy a white spider orchid and more donkey orchids. The only place to set up camp was way to close to the highway, so we turned around and on the way out took some photos of the orchids found. From the location I feel the donkey orchids are Western wheatbelt donkey orchids and the white spider orchids are Stark white spider orchids (Caladenia longicauda subsp. eminens) which flowers August to October in a range from Moora to Esperance.
Also found were some Jug orchids and some very dark coloured donkey orchids. Unsure if they are just a dark variant or another species. I will leave them un-named for now.
Hopping back in the Triton we are nearly flown away by the number of mosquitoes that had entered the cab. Definitely not a camping spot. So now where will we go? Quickly checking the maps we settle on Nunijup Lake (Mud Map SC 20) which is west south west of Tenterden and about 50kms away. We arrive at the lake and park up on the deserted tennis courts between the clubhouse and toilets. Also nearby is an old campfire pit. After setting up the camper we head off into the bush looking for wood. It is on this search that I come across some more dark donkey orchids. However these ones appear to be the Purple pansy orchid (Diuris longifolia) which flower September to December between Albany and Perth. The uniformity to the colour of the dorsal sepal and lateral lobes of the labellum, plus the hanging lateral sepals, lead me to this classification.
More pansy orchids are found along a track to a fallen tree, where I see a spider orchid, whilst picking up broken branches for the fire. The distinct colouring and location provide easy identification. This is the Tenterden yellow spider orchid (Caladenia straminichila) which is found from the Porongurup Range to Manjimup in the months August to October. I race back to camp to advise Debbie of my find. We both go back and then look farther afield. Many more spider orchids are found, some in clumps.
Also found more Purple pansy orchids however light was fading fast so we headed back to camp and settled down for a night around the campfire.
End of day one and we have possibly found 18 different orchid species. An amazing start to our Road Trip.
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.