As we came home early from our Road Trip we had to finish our holidays with a final orchid hunt. What better place to check out than Boyatup Hill (Mud Map SE40) . Like Helms Arboretum, Boyatup never disappoints. Arriving at 10am we immediately go exploring for orchids. Our first orchid is the Purple enamel orchid ( Elythranthera brunonis). Closely followed by the small Diuris orchid, from the Bee orchid complex. From the habitat found and the small stature of the plants they appear to be the Common bee orchid (Diuris decrementa).
Two large, black basal calli
Pinkish colour variant
Small, yellow, brown marked flowers
Forward projecting lateral sepals
In close proximity we come across a Red beak (Pyrorchis nigricans), Cowslip orchids (Caladenia flava subsp. flava), more Purple enamel orchids and Common bee orchids.
Common, red marked yellow flowers
Great family shot
Distinctive red and white flowers
Up to five flowers per plant
Then prior to hopping back in the Triton we find some Lemon-scented sun orchids (Thelymitra antennifera) and what appears to be an Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora) nearing the end of it’s season.
Small antennae like column lobes
Stiffly held petals and sepals
We now pass through the gravel pit and head up the track to a spot that allows us to turn around, where we get out have morning tea, then head on up the overgrown track on foot, towards the granite outcrop. Along this overgrown track we find some Pink candy orchids (Caladenia hirta subsp. rosea), more Cowslip orchids and Esperance king spider orchids, plus some of the small, Zebra orchids (Caladenia cairnsiana).
Short, spreading petals and lateral sepals
Red tipped labellum
Upright dorsal sepal
As mentioned Boyatup is a great location and as proof we have already found 8 varieties in the first half hour of looking. What will a few hours bring? We can’t wait to find out.
Next orchid found was a Pointing spider orchid (Caladenia exstans) which is only found between Esperance and Israelite Bay from September to early November.
Named after the labellum projecting forwards
Smooth margined labellum
More yellow spied. Cowslips and Lemon-scented sun orchids found.
No scrub will stop them finding the sun
3 is a crowd
Red colouring is varaible
Enjoying the sunshine
Then to our surprise we find a Beautiful donkey orchid (Diuris pulchella), very near it’s season end, but still showing off it’s mauve colouring.
The beautiful mauve colouring
Found north and east of Esperance
The further along we walk the more we find. More Zebra, Cowslip, Pink Candy, Pointing spider and Beautiful donkey orchids, then something new for the day. We break out of the overgrown track onto an open, damp, low granite rock space about the size of a soccer pitch and find a Blue china orchid (Cyanicula gemmata ), but exact identification is uncertain as 3 different species can be found in this location.
Short, scattered labellum lamina calli
Mauve-blue to purple flowers
Next orchids found were a small grouping of a Caladenia hybrid. One parent is the Cowslip orchid but deciding the other was proving difficult. The other parent does not appear to be the usual Pink fairy orchids as the dorsal sepal hangs forward over the column, which is a feature of the Pink fans. Reviewing the site esperancewildflowers.blogspot.com.au and the Spider Orchids EBook 2018 it appears the other parent to be the Little pink fan orchid. I would never have picked this due to the recorded location being West of Bremer Bay. So in my research the EBook mentions a hybrid between these two orchids being photographed in Esperance and the Esperance wildflowers blog records finding the Little pink fan orchid within his 160km radius of Esperance. So I am recording these orchids as (Caladenia flava x Caladenia nana) an unnamed hybrid.
Forward facing dorsal sepal, typical of C. nana
View from above
Beautiful little hybrid
Colours of both parents
Before leaving this open area we find our smallest orchid of the day. A Laughing leek orchid (Prasophyllum macrostachyum) which is found September through January in a range from Dongara to Cape le Grand. We are 50km East of this range however the flowers appear wider spaced, lateral sepals are shorter and dorsal sepal is wider, than the related Little laughing leek orchid, so I am happy with my classification.
Flowers more widely spaced that the Little laughing leek orchid
Still a very small orchid
The track becomes over grown again and we find a lone spider orchid. Appears to be a Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila) although this is far from certain
The most Eastern spider orchid
Smaller labellum than other wispy’s
Then we come to the low prickly scrub which leads up to the Granite outcrop. Close to the base of the rock is a thick woodland but for now we are searching in thigh high bushes. Amazingly we find a Rattle Beak (Lyperanthus serratus) growing under one of the bushes bordering the track. Further along we find more Rattle beaks pushing through the prickly shrubs.
Up to 10 dull flowers
Single, long, narrow, leathery leaf 200 – 400mm long by 12-16 mm wide
Densely hairy yellow-white labellum
Narrow forward facing petals and lateral sepals
We don’t have time or inclination to bush bash to the granite rock so after a few more minutes finding further Purple enamel, Pointing spider, Esperance king spider and Zebra orchids we back track to the Triton and move on to another location closer to home, only just.
Big brother watching over
Smooth margined labellum
Flower only 15mm high
On a track named Bebenorin Rd we first come across what appeared to be another Esperance king spider orchid, but on closer inspection I believe it to be a Heberle’s spider orchid (Caladenia herberleana) due to the narrow clubbing of the lateral sepals. These flower September and October in a range from Augusta to Cape Arid which causes them to grow in the same area and at a similar time to the Esperance king spider orchid which makes it difficult to distinguish between them.
Long, slender, rather indistinct petal and sepal clubs
4 or more rows of pale to deep red calli
Red-tipped labellum with long fringe segments
Pale red, white and yellow flowers 60-120mm across
Close by we find some Dancing spider orchids (Caladenia discoidea) and more Cowslip orchids, this time with longer, thinner lateral sepals.
Pale green and red rounded labeluum
Longer thinner lateral sepals than the standard shape
Another first for the day is the Common mignonette orchid (Microtis media) which flowers September through January and ranges from Shark Bay to Eyre, one of the largest ranges of the orchid family in WA.
Curled lateral sepals
Each small flower has a hood like dorsal sepal
Up to 100 yellowish-green flowers
Maybe a pollinator
Getting hungry so we head off to Thomas River for lunch, but not before taking a few more pics.
Awesome coloured tips to the sepals and petals
Wonder where they got the Wispy name from?? LOL
Short spreading petals and sepals
King spider orchid
Four rows of squat labellum calli
Nice off centre shot
Large spider orchid flowers 60-120mm across
Just at the entrance to the National Park we find some more Rattle beaks, Lemon-scented sun orchids, Purple enamel orchids and Bee orchids, however only got good pics of the Rattle beaks.
Prominent hood-like dorsal sepal
We decide to have lunch at the top campground as they have undercover seating. First though we check out the beach and take a walk up the trail for a bit, looking for the patch of leaves we found months earlier. Nothing doing, so we head back to have lunch. On the track in, Deb spies some blue and we are lucky enough to find a solitary Coastal sun orchid (Thelymitra granitora) with a Lemon-scented sun orchid neighbour.
Maroon-tipped flower bract
Column with smooth, yellow-crested mid lobe
Broad spreading petals and sepals
We park the Triton in one of the camping bays and quickly look around, finding a Pointing spider orchid and a King spider orchid, species unknown due to it’s petals and lateral sepals being nibbled off.
Upswept lateral seapls
Petals and lateral sepals nibbled away
After lunch we make our way to the Len Otte nature trail. At the base of the first rise we find a small Laughing leek orchid and further up a some Pink fairies (Caladenia latifolia) and Common bee orchids.
Smooth tubular leaf
Stiffly spreading petals and sepals
Tri-lobed labellum, short fringe segments, two rows calli
Small, yellow, brown marked flowers
Moving through a wooded part of the trail we find some Western wispy spider orchids, before coming out onto the next clearing. Here we get the fright of our life, with a big, black, curled up snake hiding in the low bushes. We keep to the track from now on, no bush bashing, so to speak.
Stiffly held petals and sepals
Two rows of white calli
Birds-eye view of group
OMG this scared us
Now to add to our day the heavens open up and it starts to rain. We try to hurry back but the I see another Blue sun orchid, which appears to be another Coastal sun orchid. Then just as the rain and wind picks up we find some Rabbit orchids (Leptoceras menziesii) in a new location for this nature trail. Photos with it raining and your lenses fogging up, is not an easy task.
Not fully open given the weather
Narrow, erect, ear-like petals
Broad, forward spreading lateral sepals
Up to 5 red and white flowers
Nearby Deb finds a lone Snail orchid. From location and the length of the lateral sepals I am naming it Ravensthorpe snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘ Ravensthorpe’), which is found from Stirling Ranges to Esperance, flowering August and September.
United dorsal sepal and petals forming a blunt hood
Rosette of leaves, 20 to 50mm across
Long, erect lateral sepals, 10 – 25 mm long
Still getting wet, but unperturbed, we still search whilst walking quickly back and find some more spider orchids and cowslip orchids. No good photos though, due to rain and fogging lenses, so will not post them. Well this was quite a day of orchid hunting, as our holidays draw to an end. However we did finish on a high – 22 species found in just over 4hours of searching.