Last Hoorah of our Holidays


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).

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.

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.

 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).

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.

More yellow spied. Cowslips and Lemon-scented sun orchids found.

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 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.

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  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.

 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.

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

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.

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.

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.

Close by we find some Dancing spider orchids (Caladenia discoidea) and more Cowslip orchids, this time with longer, thinner lateral sepals.

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.

Getting hungry so we head off to Thomas River for lunch, but not before taking a few more pics.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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



Road trip – Day 3 – Kwolyin to Marshall Rock


After a great night catching up around the camp fire we wake to a beautiful spring morning. After breakfast we pack up camp then go for a wander around our campsite where we come across a few Ant orchids (Caladenia roei). Then we walk back towards Coarin Rock, which Richard and I climbed late afternoon yesterday, to show Deb the donkey orchids we found. However before this a fellow camper directs our attention to a lone spider orchid. NEW FIND – It appears to be a Drooping spider orchid (Caladenia radialis) as the petals and both lateral and dorsal sepals all droop and the labellum is smooth margined. This orchid flowers August to early December and range from Northampton to Jerramungup.

Past the ablutions on the track to the rock we find the patch with many Western wheatbelt donkey orchids (Diuris sp. ‘western wheatbelt’)and then backtrack to the Tritons for our drive to Kokerbin hill.

Kokerbin Hill / Kokerbin Rock is claimed to be the third largest monolith in Australia, so was a definite stop. We took a walk around the northern face to Devils Marbles and  found some Sugar orchids (Ericksonella saccharata), Ant orchids, Donkey orchids and a lone Hairy-stemmed snail orchid (Pterostylis sp ‘inland’)

Time to head north so we make tracks to Kellerberrin and have lunch at the lookout. A quick check around located more Western wheatbelt donkey orchids and other donkey orchids I cannot identify plus some Lemon-scented sun orchids (Thelymitra antennifera).

Time is slipping away so we head further north and pulled over to an area of woodland on the off chance of finding some orchids. The area was signposted Forsyth Woodland and it proved to be great off chance location. Deb, Richard and myself all head off in different directions to see who would find the first orchids. Deb won by finding some Blood spider orchids (Caladenia filifera). I am confident with their identification, this time. NEW FIND

Next up Deb comes across a small Mottled donkey orchid (Diuris suffusa) which flowers late August to late September in the shires of Trayning, Wyalkatchem, Koorda and Mount Marshall. NEW FIND  I find a lone Pink candy orchid (Caladenia hirta) and Deb finds a lone Fringed mantis orchid (Caladenia falcata).

Further Donkey orchids and Pink candy orchids groupings were found followed by a grouping of Ant orchids and a sole Sugar orchid.

Many more Fringed mantis orchids in better shape than the first were found as was a patch of very tall Hairy-stemmed snail orchids.

So Forsyth Woodland proved a very fruitful stop with 7 orchid species found. Sunset is looming and we have yet to settle on where to camp overnight. Our first choice, Durokoppin Nature Reserve was not suitable, so we headed north, passing through Trayning and made tracks for Marshall Rocks near Bencubbin. This was a great spot with only one other camper in residence, so we set camp for the night. I decide to quickly check the rock out for any orchids and only find some Hairy-stemmed snail orchids, as the rock and surrounding area was very weedy.

A great 3rd day with 10 species found.

Road Trip – Day 2 – Wagin to Kwolyin


After a quick breakfast and a long hot shower we make up the thermos and head off to fuel up, then make tracks for the North Wagin Nature Reserve, our first planned stop of the day. Just off the road, on the track chosen to push into the reserve, I spy a group of Jug orchids (Pterostylis recurva) which we will check out on the way back. We park the Triton and camper near a dam and head out on foot to check out this new location. First find is the Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata), quickly followed by Western wheatbelt donkey orchid (Diuris sp. ‘western wheatbelt’).

Many donkey orchids were found and mixed in with these we found some Little pink fairy orchids (Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans) distinguished by their leaf having a red coloured underside. Another common orchid found here was the Fringed mantis orchid (Caladenia falcata) which competed with the donkey orchid to be the most common orchid in this location. As planned we took pictures of the Jug orchids as we made tracks for our next location.

Piesseville was our next location and we finally found flowering orchids, after other visits turned up leaves and buds only. As with the Wagin location the Fringed mantis orchid was very common, as were the Sugar orchids (Ericksonella saccharata), however the later were restricted to a few metres in from the road. Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) was also plentiful, but further into the bush.

The first spider orchid found is a Chameleon spider orchid (Caladenia dimidia) and nearby a reddish version of the same flower.A very different spider orchid is then found. The Dancing spider orchid (Caladenia discoidea). Unlike previous specimens found this season near Esperance,this one finally looks like the ones in the books.

In the northerly section of the location we find some Western wheatbelt donkey orchids and in the swampy section I find some Blue beards (Pheladenia deformis) of varying shades. I track down Deb who has crossed to the other side of the road and took her back to where the Blue beards were located.

On the way back to the Blue beards more spider orchids were found. Chameleon spider orchid, Crimson spider orchid (Caladenia footeana)  which flowers July to early October between Cranbrook and Binnu and Chapmans spider orchid (Caladenia chapmanii) which flowers September to mid-October between Boyup Brook, Kojonup and Northam, all within a few metres of each other.

Then an OMG moment, when Deb spies an all red spider orchid. Appears to be Blood spider orchid (Caladenia filifera) NEW FIND!!!! These are found between Tenterden and Wongan Hills and flower August to early October. Not 100% certain as it was not clumping, but single flowers. Edit: After locating Blood spider orchids at Forsyth Woodland this one appears to be a red variant of another species.

Other orchids found at this location were Jug orchids and Banded greenhoods.

We moved on and called into Narrogin to buy some supplies and an extra gas cartridge for the shower unit. We then drove north-east and stopped off at North Yilliminning Nature Reserve for lunch and checked out this new location. Not far into our search and we were bombarded with yellow from so many Cowslip orchids. Various shapes, patterns and sizes with some having very long lateral sepals.

Next orchid found was the small Sugar orchid followed closely with some Donkey orchids. Most likely, Western wheatbelt donkey orchids. Also found were some Banded greenhoods

A very unusual colour catches Deb’s eye as she has found a Hybrid orchid. A Spectacular spider orchid (Caladenia x spectabilis) which is a hybrid formed by a Cowslip and Pink fairy cross pollinating. Further colour variations were found. However to muddy the waters, the Little pink fairy orchid is found which may be a parent of the hybrids, in which case the orchid is unnamed and referred to as (Caladenia flava x C. reptans). For now I will leave the judgement open.

Edit: 29/10/2017 – From further investigations it appears all Hybrids found were Spectacular spider orchids due to the longer lateral sepals. Blooms August to October and found from Kalbarri to Esperance

Final orchids found were a sole Hairy stemmed snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘inland’) and some further Jug orchids.

Quick toilet stop in Wickepin, which was a very neat little town with a museum for Albert Facey, who is famous for his autobiography “A Fortunate Life”. We make one final stop, before catching up with Richard, at Malyalling Nature Reserve. Along the road that dissects the N.R. I spot some Ant orchids (Caladenia roei) which flower August to October between Eurardy Station and Ravensthorpe, and when taking photos also noticed Fringed mantis orchids nearby.

Some Donkey orchids were also found and at the Eastern boundary of the N.R. we found a patch of  Fringed mantis orchids. Too many to count.

We made our way back to the low granite outcrop and Deb immediately finds some purple variants of the Little laughing leek orchid (Prasophyllum gracile) which is quite rare according to my orchid book, so a great find Deb!! Also found on this rock were Lemon-scented sun orchids (Thelymitra antennifera) which flower from July to October between Shark Bay and Israelite Bay and very small donkey orchids.

After finding 18 orchid varieties it is now time to head off for Kwolyin campground, where Richard is waiting for us. … Trio travelling begins.

Kwolyin campground
Triton and camper . Richard with Red Triton and tent.

Sunday search of Helms Arboretum


Sunday morning fishing planned, however after a sleep-in we decide to head out to Helm’s Arboretum to check on the orchids instead. Our Southern Curly Locks is still yet to bloom so we resign ourselves to the fact we will miss it this season as we head out on our 3 week road trip in 3 days.

Next we check out the location we find our Western tiny blue orchids (Cyanicula aperta) and we were rewarded with both regular blue and some rarer white flowers.

In the adjoining plot I came across a first for me. A Grass-leafed spider orchid (Caladenia graminifolia) which flowers August to September and ranges from Mt Manypeaks to Israelite Bay. I thought is was a Green spider orchid however on checking my Orchid books it proved to be a Hoffman spider orchid due to the prominently clubbed sepals and petals plus the long thin fringe segments on the labellum.

Also in the same plot we located some Snail orchids and King spider orchids. I will go out on a limb and name the snail orchid as Ravensthorpe snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘Ravensthorpe’) as they are found between Stirling Ranges and Esperance and flower August to September. The spider orchid is our local Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora).

Moving along to another plot we locate some White spider orchids. I believe there are two subspecies of the Caladenia longicauda species found. First being the Esperance white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. crassa) which has short spreading petals and lateral sepals, flowers August to early September and ranges from Jerramungup to Cape Arid National Park. Second being the Southern white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. australora) which has long pendulous petals and lateral sepals, flowers September to October and is found Millar’s Point to Fitzgerald River National Park. Slightly east of recorded location however it is the only White spider orchid that comes close to Esperance with long pendulous petals and sepals. The “Florabase” record 15359 includes the Esperance Local Government boundary and Esperance Plains region in it’s lists of locations, so I am confident with my classification.


We move onto another known location to find our little Zebra orchid (Caladenia cairnsiana) and we were not disappointed. These little fellows are found between Esperance and Lancelin and flower August to early November.

Close by the Zebra orchids were Dwarf zebra orchids (Caladenia pachychila) which are distinguished from their big brother by their petals and sepals not clasping the ovary. They still hang but do not clasp the stem.

Another find nearby was a very white White spider orchid. Unable to ID this one but it was big and beautiful.

Next we move to the snail hood plot to see what is still flowering. Our first find were some more Western tiny blue orchids and then we find the snail hood. Snail orchids of unknown identity due to wrinkled leaves.

Our last stop of the day was near the entrance to the reserve and we find the good old faithful Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava). As usual Helm’s Arboretum didn’t let us down.

Cowslip orchids
Close neighbours

Coastal search


Today with friends Warren and Tammy we venture out to Rose’s Beach for a day of fishing, however after arriving and setting up in the far western corner I decide to go exploring to see if I could find any orchids.

I walked to the west end of the beach and climbed up the steep coastal dune for an amazing view.

After taking some photos of the view I make my way upwards through the thick vegetation. Under this vegetation I spy some Snail orchids. From the location and appearance these appear to be Coastal snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘coastal snail’) which flower July to August and range from Bremer Bay to Israelite Bay.  It was a small hood with half a dozen or so plants with many more non flowering rosettes.

Nothing more found on the way up, however once on the limestone ridge above the beach I stumble across some Pink fairy orchids (Caladenia latifolia) which are the first for the season. Identified by the underside of the leaf being green. These awesome little orchids flower August to November and range from Kalbarri to Israelite Bay.

I then headed east along the limestone ridge and only came across 2 or 3 more Pink Fairy orchids before finding a way back down to the beach.

Two orchids found within 1 hr is not too bad especially given the very coastal environment searched.

Gibson to Myrup

19/8/2017  On a tip from our friend Deb Witt we are heading north of Gibson to check out what lies within 50km of home.  However first we have our standard fully cooked breakfast at the Esperance Bird & Animal Park and then our obligatory check of Helms Arboretum.  Just past the large green log sign at the entrance we find some Esperance King spider orchids (Caladenia decora) of various colours.

We also checked out our Curly Locks but it still has a way to go before flowering. Fingers crossed it is still there when we return from our September holidays.

Turning east from the Coolgardie-Esperance Hwy we park opposite a patch of scrub with a small lake. Just off the road where we parked Deb spots the first orchid of the day. Donkey orchids are found everywhere on the North roadside verge. Unable to verify exact species as the location does not match any in the books. Possible two different types found as one is duller yellow with hanging sepals and the other is brighter yellow with re-curved and crossed sepals.

We cross the road to the lake side and start looking around when Deb calls me over as she has found a Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata). This distraction nearly had me  walking into a huge Golden orb spider (Nephila edulis). The poor old Hare orchid was well and truly finished for the season.

More searching and we turn up more Donkey orchids and the first Red beaks (Pyrorchis nigricans) sprouting from the many leaves spotted. In fact there were so many Red beak and Hare orchid leaves around you sometimes could not help stepping on them.

The first Pterostylis orchids of the day were also found. Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) and Jug orchid , plus of course some more Donkey orchids.

Looking under a tallish shrub I notice a patch of Banded greenhoods so make my way under to get a photo. Telling Deb of my find I glance down and there is this very small white coloured orchid. It happened to be a small Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata) which was partially opened. I grabbed some photos and then moved over to take some Banded greenhood photos whilst Deb took some of the Sugar orchid. This little orchid actually fully opened over a period of a few minutes so my next shots were of it fully open.

Pic below is of the Banded Greenwood I mentioned above that lead me to the sugar orchid.

We then made our way back to the Triton and moved further West and turned North along the railway line. We parked up and had a bite to eat before venturing out for another hunt. Deb spied another Sugar orchid and I took a photo of the habitat it was found in and what we get up to taking these photos.

Another Red beak sprouting, lone Snail orchid and Dancing spider (Caladenia discoidea) are found in this area, before we head over the railway line.

Immediately we find what we thought was another sugar orchid, however on returning home and checking the photos on our computer we notice it is in fact a Western tiny blue orchid (Cyanicula aperta). These are found August to early October from Dumbleyung to Mount Ragged. We now laugh that we were so blinded to the fact they were two very different orchids, just both so small, so just appeared to be variants in colour only.

This side of the railway line proved very fruitful with many orchids found. Brittle snail orchids (Pterostylis timothyi), more Western tiny blue orchids, more Redbeaks emerging,  further Dancing orchids and even more Donkey orchids.

Time to head south so we make tracks west until a road heading south is found. At a place where the road had been straightened we take the old track and stop for lunch. Deb spies two Dancing spider orchids and finally a Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) fully opened.  I locate some more Donkey orchids then on the other side of this small triangular piece of bush I find some beautiful Esperance king spider orchids. More Donkey orchids found then onward further south.

We stop as the track turns east to a farmers paddock and check around as we can see more Donkey orchids from the Triton. After looking around only Donkeys found here.

The track itself does head straight ahead it just reduces in size and standard. Very weedy now so we cross over the creek at a granite ford. A little further along a small patch opens up to the right, so we decide to check it out.  A little patch of yellow catches Deb’s eye and she calls me over as she has found a season first Common bee orchid (Diuris decrementa) which flowers from August to November and is found from North of Perth to East of Esperance.

We finally make it back to the road and head south stopping a few more times but only finding a single Cowslip orchid.

At the intersection we make a final stop and cross the road to have on more search for anything. Deb calls me over as she finds some Esperance King spider orchids. Now the word some is a little bit understated … There are so many it is impossible to count them.

Also found in numerous clusters were Wispy spider orchids. Unsure of the exact type though.

Some single specimens were also found but I will not attempt to name the exact types of these either.

This final location ended an awesome day with new finds and so many orchids in one place… Nature is grand alright !!!