Pterostylis – Greenhoods, shell orchids, bird orchids, snail orchids & jug orchid.

Pterostylis aspera complex (Shell orchids)

Flowering – May to August

There are 7 Western Australian species

  • Rosette leaves are present on non-flowering plants only.
  • Flowering plants have stem leaves.
  • Plants are found in colonies.
  • Mostly winter flowering

Green-veined shell orchid (Pterostylis scabra)

Curled-tongue shell orchid (Pterostylis rogersii) 02/07/2017

Dwarf shell orchid (Pterostylis brevichila)

Pterostylis nana complex (Snail orchids)

Flowering – May to November

There are 34 recognised Western Australian species

  • Flowering and non-flowering plants have a rosette of leaves (Exception – Robust snail orchid).
  • Labellum is not visible (Exception – Shy greenhood).
  • Narrow, thickened or clubbed lateral sepals.
  • Flowers are generally much smaller than the similar Shell orchids.

Shy greenhood (Pterostylis allantoidea)

Robust snail orchid (Pterostylis dilatata)

Slender snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘crinkled leaf’) 29/07/2015

Hairy-stemmed snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘inland’) 04/07/2015

Eastern granite snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘miniature’)

Skinny snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘skinny’) 29/07/2015

Fawn snail orchid (Pterostylis parva)

Lort river snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘south-coast clubbed sepals’) 02/07/2017

Pterostylis rufa complex (Rufous greenhoods)

Flowering – August to December

There are 23 Western Australian species

  • Rosette may be withered at time of flowering.
  • Narrow ended lateral sepals, joined at the base.
  • Mostly spring flowering.
  • Multi-flowered inflorescence.

Midget greenhood (Pterostylis mutica) 20/9/2017

Striped rufous greenhood (Pterostylis sp. ‘striped’)

Pterostylis vittata complex (Banded greenhoods)

Flowering – April to October

There are 9 Western Australian species

  • Flowering plants lack rosette of leaves.
  • Short, broad lateral sepals, joined at the base.
  • Green or brown, white banded flowers.
  • Multi-flowered inflorescence.

Dark banded greenhood (Pterostylis sanguinea) 25/07/2015

Frog greenhood (Pterostylis sargentii) 20/09/2017

Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata)

Pterostylis barbata complex (Bird orchids)

Flowering – July to November

There are 14 Western Australian species

  • No flattened rosette of leaves.
  • Feather-like, irritable labellum.
  • Long narrow lateral sepals, joined at the base.
  • Numerous stem leaves.

Bird orchid (Pterostylis barbata)

Dwarf bird orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘dwarf’) 20/09/2017

Pterostylis recurva

Flowering – August to October

This orchid does not fit into the other Pterostylis complexes

  • Narrow ended, prominently recurved lateral sepals.
  • Flowering plants lack a rosette of leaves.
  • Numerous stem leaves, with a small dark-coloured, almost circular leaf near the base

Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) 19/9/2017



Solo search


Quick visit to Dempster Head ( Mud Map SE 34 ) to check on the progress o the orchids found last visit and to see if anything new has popped it’s head up. First batch of round leaves had buds growing but nothing in full flower. From the buds they will be a Cyrtostylis species. Found the spot where the Mosquito orchid (Cyrtostylis robusta) was last time and on the other side of the bush I found some better specimens.

The shell orchid found partially out was located now fully in bloom and confirmed to be a Curled-tongue shell orchid (Pterostylis rogersii) with a few more partially formed neighbours. I then took into the bush on a wider inspection of the area in the hope of finding something new. Found more shell and mosquito orchids and a large area of what appears to be Rabbit orchid leaves.

Almost forgot to check on the Eastern granite snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘miniature’ ) to see if he had any buddies yet. Located him and he happened to have one new friend. Nothing new found today so will re-visit in a few weeks to see what can be found as there were many leaves of what appear to be Diuris and Caladenia species.

Munglinup Beach


A cold n wet morning greets us at the Munglinup Beach Caravan Park. First point of call after checkout is the Munglinup Beach camping ground.(Mud Map SE33) As would be expected the place was empty so we made our way around the fence into the scrub below the consolidated dunes to look for orchids. Many many roundish ground hugging leaves are found but none are in bud let alone flower. Then Deb calls me over as she has found some Shell orchids, yay. Unlike yesterdays orchids these have their tongues hanging out, or to be correct their labellum. This orchid is a Curled-tongue shell orchid (Pterostylis rogersii) which ranges from Binninup to Esperance and flowers June to August.

We found many more shell orchids here and at the other beach access point further east. Near the camping ground we ventured across some snail orchids. The Lort River snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘south coast clubbed sepals’) is a possible match. From all accounts the season is early following the floods in February, so even though it is listed as flowering from August to September in the area from Boxwood Hill to Israelite Bay, I am happy to be naming it so.

We then moved on to the track leading from the Information Bay to the Oldfield River estuary. First sighting was a spent Hunched leek orchid (Prasophyllum parvifolium) with Dark banded greenhoods (Pterostylis sanguinea) nearby. Only more greenhoods were found so we headed homewards.

Lunch was eaten at Stokes Inlet National Park and then quickly looked around for orchids but only found some greenhoods (no photos) and Hare leaves and caladenia leaves.

All in all it was a fruitful 300km weekend with 8 orchid species found albeit two were past their best but still identifiable.

Cascade to Munglinup


We decided to have an overnight trip over to Munglinup even though the forecast is for a very wet, windy and cold weekend. Saturday morning was beautiful sunny and cloud free, so much for the storm forecast for Friday night. First point of call was to fill up the Triton with diesel, buy some supplies from Woolies, grab some cash for accommodation and our favourite $2 coffees from Shell.

First stop was along the highway opposite the Dalyup tennis club. Only found a lone greenhood Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) then on the way back noticed he had a spent friend.

Onward to Cascade falls, on Loop Road, where we parked in the same spot as our first ever visit and walked along the Lort River to the so called falls. For the middle of winter the water was rather low. Unlike last time, which was later in the season, we found diddly squat, however the sunshine and fresh air made for perfect walking weather. Back on Cascade Road we head west towards Neds Corner Road and stop at the first Cascade Nature Reserve which incorporates the old Cascade School site and slowly drove around. Nothing caught our eye so we headed further west to the next section of the Nature Reserve. We took a track north and parked in a limestone quarry/pit and decided to go for a bush bash and see what, if anything, we could find

Limestone quarry/pit
Heading back to have a bite of lunch

I came across a bunch of very small Pterostylis rosettes however nothing was in bud so I assumed another dud area so I took a pic of the leaves. 2 metres away were some more rosettes and one was in flower but not fully developed, so more pics were taken. It was a Shell orchid with dark brown tones. As I was struggling to stand up I moved a small branch and hidden beneath was a fully formed Shell orchid flower. From my pictures and orchid book it would appear to be a Dwarf shell orchid (Pterostylis brevichila) as they flower July to September and are found between Hyden and Mt Ragged. Very excited to find something new so yelled out to Deb to come over and check it out.


With added enthusiasm we venture further afield together and Deb spots some nice Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) and very close by some spent Pygmy orchids (Corunastylis tepperi). Many more of both were found. A dark banded greenhood is found and appears to be a Cupped banded greenhood (Pterostylis concava) but they range as far east as Mt Barker so it must be a Dark banded greenhood (Pterostylis sanguinea). Walking around we find more greenhoods and shells in full flower and many more pygmy orchids finished for the season. Lunch time, then south along Neds Corner Road.

Dwarf shell orchid
Standing tall

We stopped alongside the road as up ahead the rain had finally arrived, so we made a quick check of the scrub. I was excited to find a Donkey orchid in flower. It appears to be a Green range donkey orchid (Diuris sp. ‘Green Range’) which flowers July to September from Denmark to Esperance. Further specimens were found and then we bolt back to the Triton as the rain arrives with a vengeance. Unfortunately it does not stop for the rest of the day, though is does lessen in magnitude.

Another stop on Neds Corner Road found more Dark banded greenhoods and Green range donkey orchids. A right turn had us travelling west along Mills Road, where I spied a Donkey orchid with a double head on the side of the road. Young river provided a break but no orchids found. Further along Mills Road Deb took a track to the east and spotted a lone Donkey orchid. A little further along and the Triton sinks into the muddy track causing 4WD to be engaged to reverse out. No more down that track!

Young River
Beautiful spot but alas no orchids yet

Afternoon tea consumed in the Triton, waiting for the rain to ease up, at the Munglinup River crossing.  (Mud Map SE 32) Only a few leaves found here. So next was our usual stop along Mills Road which turns up more Donkeys and Greenhoods and then our final stop is at East Naernup Nature Reserve with further Donkeys and Greenhoods found. We head via Doyle Road to Munglinup Beach Caravan Park to our little cabin for the night

Dempster head re-visited


Off to check on the progress of the orchids leaves and buds we found a few weeks back on the Rotary Lookout Walk Trail up on Dempster Head.  (Mud Map SE 34) The first successful find was a lone Snail Orchid which was very short however the snail flower head was as large as taller specimens found in previous seasons. From looking through my orchid books I will name this one Eastern granite snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘miniature’.) This orchid is found from July to early September between Esperance and Israelite Bay.

Next came the first flowering Cyrtostylis orchid found this season. A single flowering Mosquito orchid (Cyrtostylis robusta) was found in a group where some other flowering specimens looked dead and damaged. So many leaves with buds at varying stages of growth were found in many places along the trail. Mosquito orchids flower June to August and range from Perth to Israelite Bay.

Then just before the small wooden pathway steps I found some very close to flowering Shell Orchids. The photos show a dark colouring so may be Curled-tongue shell orchid (Pterostylis rogersii) as they flower June to August and range between Binningup and Esperance. Will need to confirm at next visit.

We complete our walk and decide to take a quick trip out to Lake Monjingup Reserve to check on progress. We walked around the trail and only found one Banded Greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) for our troubles. Varied orchid leaves found but nothing yet flowering.

Banksias though were in full bloom with the Swamp Banksia (Banksia occidentalis) looking very colourful.

So we located 4 different species today which was not too bad going for a winters day.