31/10/2021 ….. Spring Sunday of sun orchids

Esperance, Helms Arboretum, Western Australian Orchids

Getting towards the end of the orchid season in the Esperance district, so we decide to go check out the reliable Helms Arboretum (Mud Map SE 35). Prior to this though we have our usual cooked breakfast at the Esperance Bird and Animal Park.

Moving onto the arboretum we first stop along side Plot 23(E) and find some blue sun orchids. Now the tricky bit is naming them as 4 different species flower in the Esperance district. I’m leaning toward the Shy sun orchid (Thelymitra graminea), which grows in woodlands and forests between Perth and Esperance during the months of October and November. They grow up to 350mm in height and have up to 8 flowers in their inflorescences. The colour ranges from dark blue to purple or mauve.

We now move down to the arboretum proper where we hope to find some Leopard orchids in flower. Driving along Boundary X we first come across bee orchids before Deb spies a Leopard orchid (Thelymitra benthamiana) which grows in seasonally moist flats between Northampton and Israelite Bay during the spring months of September through November. Further plants were found flowering along Boundary Z.

The bee orchids also took our attention and we grabbed some photos. From their markings they appear to be the Elegant donkey orchid (Diuris concinna) which grows in moist sites amongst low shrubs between Cape Arid and Fitzgerald River National Park. So a local orchid, which flowers from September to early December.

Moving along we drive down between Plots 85 & 86 as some mignonette orchids were visible from Brockman Road. The Common mignonette orchids (Microtis media subsp. media) grow in scrublands, woodlands and forests between Shark Bay and Eyre. Flowering occurs from September to January with plants growing up to 600mm in height.

We now explore further and locate more of the same, however the sun orchids are larger, with longer inflorescences and more varied in their colour. So I believe they are the Scented sun orchids (Thelymitra macrophylla) which grow in forests and open wandoo woodlands between Perth and Albany, however Florabase shows the Esperance Shire as being a location for this orchid. They flower from August to October and can reach a height of 1000mm with more than 15 flowers per orchid.

It has been a beautiful sunny spring Sunday, so getting out and exploring for orchids was a wonderful way to fill up the morning. However, as Deb starts her shift at 2pm it is time to head home and grab some lunch. Five species found today, with the sun orchids stealing the show, with 2 species from the Blue sun orchid complex and the Leopard orchid, the sole member from the Sienna sun orchid complex. Only 1 month left of spring so we may get to explore for orchids this season, only time will tell.

The orchid below I have not named as the flowers are small, refer blowfly for size comparison, and the stems are reddish coloured and quite thick. Leaves have all been eaten off so no help from them. If anyone can assist with the ID that would be appreciated.

10/10/2021 ….. Yealering to Newdegate

Malyalling NR, Nature Reserves, Weekend away, Western Australian Orchids

So, we awake in Yealering on the Sunday after enjoying the Regatta on the lake the previous day. We are in the local caravan park with friends Sandy, Noel and Richard. After breakfast we all pack up our respective campers and make our separate way home. For us this will be an excuse to go orchid hunting. Fancy that!!!

I do not have a record in my little black book, and I am writing this record more than 12mths after the fact, so my memory fails me. So, this record will record locations and finds only, with no commentary, which some may find refreshing.


Green spider orchid

(Caladenia falcata)

200 – 400mm in height

Flowers – Late Aug to Oct

Location – Wongan Hills to Jerramungup

Granite sun orchid

(Thelymitra petrophila)

100 – 350mm in height

Flowers – Aug to Nov

Location – Mullewa to South Australia

Small flowered donkey orchid

(Diuris porrifolia)

150 – 350mm in height

Flowers – Late July – Sept

Location – Moora to Albany

Elbow orchid

(Spiculaea ciliata)

100-180mm in height

Flowers – Oct to Jan

Location – Kalbarri to Grasspatch

EIGHTY SIX GATE ROAD – UNNAMED NATURE RESERVE

Little laughing leek orchid

(Prasophyllum gracile)

60 – 200mm in height

Flowers – Jul to Oct

Location – Shark Bay to Eyre

Granite sun orchid

(Thelymitra petrophila)

Leaf – Narrow, 4-6mm in width

Colour – Blue, purple or pink

Cowslip orchid

(Caladenia flava subsp. flava)

100 – 250mm in height

Flowers – Jul to early Dec

Location – Geraldton to Israelite Bay

Green spider orchid

(Caladenia falcata)

Another common name – Fringed mantis orchid

Leaf – Single, erect, hairy leaf 100-200mm in length

Elbow orchid

(Spiculatea ciliata)

Habitat – In the north sandy soils over sandstone, In the south soil pockets on granite

Leaf – Fleshy, green and red infused leaf, which is shriveled at time of flowering

Blue china orchid

(Cyanicula gemmata)

40 – 150mm in height

Flowers – Aug to early Nov

Location – Kalbarri and Israelite Bay

Harrismith / Dudinin area

Granite sun orchid

(Thelymitra petrophila)

Neendaling

Green spider orchid

(Caladenia falcata)

Shy sun orchid

(Thelymitra graminea)

150 – 350mm in height

Flowers – Oct to Nov

Location – Perth to Esperance

Little laughing leek orchid

(Prasophyllum gracile)

Common mignonette orchid

(Microtis media subsp. media)

Newdegate

Small mantis orchid

(Caladenia attingens subsp. gracillima)

170 – 350mm in height

Flowers – Aug to early Oct

Location – Jerramungup to Israelite Bay

Little laughing leek orchid

(Prasophyllum gracile)

You can tell we are moving into the last few months of the Western Australian orchid season as we only located 9 species over multiple inland locations. The Southwest corner has a much longer season than both the inland and Southeastern areas.

30/09/2021 ….. RDO romp out East

Beaumont NR, Day Trip, Nature Reserves, Western Australian Orchids

Well, what else do you do on a RDO in spring but go Orchid Hunting. Today we head out east of Esperance in the hope of finding some different species to those found around the lakes and at Helms Arboretum last weekend.

First up we head past Condingup and head north up Parmango Road. At our usual location we slowly drive in, hanging out the windows looking for orchids, then park up and head further in on foot.

At the clearing where we park up, we are surprised to find the beautiful Custard orchid (Thelymitra villosa). This striking orchid flowers during the spring months, over a large range from Northampton to Israelite Bay. It is known to have up to 20 flowers per plant.

Located very close by is the glistening Purple enamel orchid (Elythranthera brunonis). This sun loving orchid flowers from August to early November over a similar range, Kalbarri to Israelite Bay.

Time to head off on foot as you do find more orchids this way. Backtracking toward Parmango Road first though as Deb spied a bird orchid on the drive in. Only one specimen found and appears to be the Bearded bird orchid (Pterostylis turfosa) as the species named Esperance bird orchid was included as an eastern variety of P. turfosa.

Also found here was a smaller yellow orchid. The Bee orchid (Diuris laxiflora) also flowers during the spring months, though only flowers as far northwest as Gingin from Esperance.

Finally, we head west along the track. A single, solitary Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora) is found. No others were found along this track today. The prominently clubbed sepals allowed me to ID it, as the similarly located and similarly featured Heberle’s spider orchid causes no end of confusion, when trying to ID these king type spider orchids.

Another small yellow orchid catches our eye. The tiny Twisted sun orchid (Thelymitra flexuosa), is so named due to a distinctive zig-zagged flower stem. The flowers themselves are listed as being 12 – 15mm across which is smaller than a 5c piece. We have only found this species a couple times before, so this is an exciting find.

Amazingly the next orchid is also yellow in colour. The more common Lemon-scented sun orchid (Thelymitra antennifera) which is so named due to the antennae like structures to the column. These orchids flower as far north as Shark Bay from Israelite Bay to our east.

Finally, an orchid that is not yellow in colour. The striking Common mignonette orchid (Microtis media subsp.media) can stand up to 600mm in height and can have up to 100 yellowish-green flowers per plant. Each flower is miniscule being only 2-3mm across.

The surprise find for the day was a solitary hammer orchid, which is well and truly fertilised and slowly shriveling up. The only recorded hammer orchid in the Shire of Esperance is the King-in-his-carriage (Drakaea glyptodon). The distinctly pouched labellum is not apparent, though it may have just shrivelled away.

Another single specimen found. Hiding in a bush the Shy sun orchid (Thelymitra graminea) is living up to its common name. There are four visually similar blue sun orchids flowering in the Esperance district so my identification may be incorrect, so please feel free to enlighten me.

Next up is an orchid that apparently smells bad. As they are so small and close to the ground, I have never put that to the sniff. The White fairy orchid (Caladenia marginata) is an orchid that is stimulated by fire and is usually found around granite outcrops. That is the case for our nearby Cape Le Grand rock location, however no visible granite at this location.

Another sun orchid is found in the old damp gravel pit area, however due to the deep cleft in the mid-lobe of the column I believe it to be the Slender sun orchid (Thelymitra vulgaris). They are one of the weird self-pollinating orchids, as are the Twisted sun orchids.

Next up is a mutated orchid I believe. It appears to be a Lemon-scented sun orchid however it does not have a normal looking column. I would love to have your thoughts on this unusual specimen.

Another amazing orchid is found poking up through the undergrowth. Rattle beaks (Lyperanthus serratus) in its dull green and maroon colourings is a beautiful orchid. They may have up to 10 flowers per plant and can reach heights of 500mm. They have a distinctive leaf which we regularly find prior to the flowering season but feel blessed when we find one flowering.

In the gravelly or rocky wet area, we were staggered to find the Pointing spider orchid (Caladenia exstans). We had previously found this orchid at Thomas River and Dempster Head which are in listed habitat of near coastal granite. We are around 25kms from the coast with no apparent granite so did not expect to find these orchids here. Actually, we have also found them at Boyatup which is a similar distance inland but also has granite everywhere.

Further orchids were found but not great photos taken so will record them here and put up the best photo I have of them. Zebra orchid (Caladenia cairnsiana) in a nice bright red form. Dancing spider orchid (Caladenia discoidea) in washed out colours plus the Laughing leek orchid (Prasophyllum macrostachyum) with its beautiful red lined sepals and petals.

Well, this track walked along proved a great spot with many species found. We can’t linger at one place too long so back to the Triton we trudge and onward to our next location.

We pull into Beaumont Nature Reserve which is little further north along Parmango Road. Here we again make our way on foot as the track is too tight and will scratch the crap out of the Triton. It is not long before we find our first orchid. Interestingly it is another Rattle Beaks, closely followed by more Zebra orchids and Bee orchids

Walking further along the track we find other previously found orchids. This time another Purple enamel orchid appears shining in some brief sunlight, further Common mignonette orchids stand tall and yellow Lemon-scented sun orchids are visible against the drying foliage.

Next up the blue sun orchids start to appear in numbers. From the thin leaf I believe they are further Shy sun orchids and another Slender sun orchid is found, with its deeply clefted column mid lobe. Maybe we will find something new here the further we venture in.

And guess what? We did find something new for the day. From what I can tell this spider orchid appears to be a Hybrid but could also just be a pale coloured Esperance king spider. What are your thoughts?

Another yellow orchid is found, and it is amazing it has taken this long to find the very widespread common Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava). These orchids vary greatly in the brightness of their yellow and the patterns of their markings.

The next orchid found is confusing as the location would lead the ID to be the Short sepaled spider orchid (Caladenia brevisura), however a lack of clubbing to the lateral sepals seems to indicate the Ant orchid (C. roei) may be the correct ID, but these orchids only go as far East as Ravensthorpe. However, my iNaturalist record has confirmed the first choice.

A new colour for the day appears in the undergrowth. The Pink candy orchid (Caladenia hirta subsp. rosea) is an unexpected find. They are however listed as occurring as far east as Israelite Bay, so should not be a surprise. The pink colouration is varied from very pale pink, almost white to vivid pink.

Talking about a splash of yellow. We have finally reached the granite area with a stream running through it and there is a good number of orchids flowering here. A standout is a great clump of the Elegant donkey orchid (Diuris concinna) which is bright yellow with some small brown markings. This is the best bunch I’ve ever seen.

Flowering nearby was the closely related Common bee orchid (Diuris decrementa) which is known to grow on shallow soil on granite outcrops. They were found in large numbers the more we ventured.

As pictured above with the bee orchids was the small Swamp mignonette orchid (Microtis atrata) which as the name suggests are found in seasonally wet flats and run-off areas around granite outcrops. They are only 40 to 80mm in height.

Other orchids were found growing on the shallow soil surrounding the granite, including Rabbit orchids (Leptoceras menziesii) and Lemon-scented sun orchids. Rabbit orchids have ear-like petals that provide the common name and very forward projecting lateral sepals.

Plus of course granite loving orchids are also found. The Granite sun orchid (Thelymitra petrophila) is an inland occurring orchid that flowers from August to November, however, the Coastal sun orchid (Thelymitra granitora) is also recorded as being found on inland granite outcrops northeast of Esperance and flowers during August and September. I think we have found both as the Coastal sun orchid is said to have a fleshy flower stem and the photos do seem to show one with a thicker stem.

Other orchids found in the woodlands and on the granite were more Common mignonette orchids and Shy sun orchids.

The most exciting find at this location was the hybrid of the Lemon-scented sun orchid and one of the blue sun orchids. This hybrid is a wonderful pinkish tone with bright yellow antennae. (Thelymitra x)

What a great location this has turned out to be, however, we decide to move on. Next stop is Condingup Hill. (Mud Map SE39) We had barely turned off Fisheries Road when the first orchids are seen. The common Purple enamel orchid comes in first place for this location, closely followed by the small Twisted sun orchid.

Next up a king type spider orchid is found. However, I have no idea if it is an Esperance king, Heberle’s or a hybrid. Both the aforementioned species have spreading petals/sepals and with this specimen they are hanging. They appear to be clubbed and particularly thin when compared to the large labellum. Ideas on ID welcome.

Higher up the track at the swampy flat area we find some more Swamp mignonette orchids and a Lemon-scented sun orchid.

At the corner, underneath a bush we are happy to find the Bearded bird orchid in flower. Actually, there is more than one in flower which is great.

We choose not the check out the lookout or Telstra tower area, so we drive back down and look along Fisheries Road just before the Condingup townsite sign. As expected, we locate some Esperance white spider orchids (Caladenia longicauda subsp. crassa) growing in the swampy ground.

The only other orchids found flowering here were some Purple enamel orchids. So, we grab some quick snaps then jump back into the Triton and head west.

We turn into Ridgelands Road and head north. Stopping at a patch of non-farmland we venture down into what appears to be an area leading to a swamp/lake. The ground is covered in dry leaf litter but growing here and there are some tall sun orchids. Most likely Shy sun orchids again due to location and thickness of the leaf.

Moving to the other side of the road, it is apparent the vegetation is different and straight away we find some Esperance white spider orchids.

Another, Caladenia species found which occurs between Ravensthorpe and Israelite Bay is the Short sepaled spider orchid. This small spider orchid is distinguished by its south easterly location and short sepal tips which are clubbed. At least these ones have clubs unlike the one found earlier today. There colouring varies considerably from dark red to light green.

Other orchids found include the ever-reliable Cowslip orchid, more Purple enamel orchids, a patch of Elegant donkey orchids and the Common mignonette orchid.

After 4pm, so time to make tracks home. At least 27 orchid species found with a hybrid or 2 thrown in. One last picture to post of a herd of Zebras coz I like it. No other reason!!

26/09/2021 ….. Hunting @ Helms

Day Trip, Esperance, Helms Arboretum, Western Australian Orchids

Well, after yesterday spending some time looking for orchids near our coastal lakes, it was inevitable that we would venture out to Helm’s Arboretum (Helm’s Forestry Reserve) to check out what is still flowering in this amazing location. (Mud Map SE35)

We do not have to venture far before we stumble across some orchid beauty. In the section near the entrance, we find the following orchids:

Common bee orchid (Diuris decrementa)

Common bee orchid (Diuris decrementa)

Common bee orchid (Diuris decrementa)
Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora)

Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora)

Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora)
Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava)

Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp.flava)

Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava)
Common mignonette orchid (Microtis media)

Common mignonette orchid (Microtis media)

Common mignonette orchid (Microtis media)
Shy sun orchid (Thelymitra graminea)

Shy sun orchid (Thelymitra graminea)

Shy sun orchid (Thelymitra graminea)

Time is a moving and so must we, so onwards into the Arboretum we go. At the first road to the right, we turn off and slowly drive along looking out the windows. As soon as we spy something new, we pull over for a closer inspection. Along this track we find the following different orchids:

Little pink fairies (caladenia reptans subsp. reptans

Little pink fairies (Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans)

Little pink fairies (caladenia reptans subsp. reptans
Un-named hybrid orchid (Caladenia flava x C. reptans)

Un-named Hybrid orchid (Caladenia flava x C. reptans)

Un-named hybrid orchid (Caladenia flava x C. reptans)
Pink fairies (caladenia latifolia)

Pink fairies (Caladenia latifolia)

Pink fairies (caladenia latifolia)
Lemon-scented sun orchid (Thelymitra antennifera)

Lemon-scented sun orchid (Thelymitra antennifera)

Lemon-scented sun orchid (Thelymitra antennifera)

Moving further into the Arboretum we stop at a specific spot to find the Rattle beaks and we are not disappointed. Other orchids our found across the track from the Rattle beaks.

Rattle beaks (Lyperanthus serratus)

Rattle beaks (Lyperanthus serratus)

Rattle beaks (Lyperanthus serratus)
Small mantis orchid (Caladenia attingens subsp. gracillima)

Small mantis orchid (Caladenia attingens subsp. gracillima)

Small mantis orchid (Caladenia attingens subsp. gracillima)
Purple enamel orchid (Elythranthera brunonis)

Purple enamel orchid (Elythranthera brunonis)

Purple enamel orchid (Elythranthera brunonis)
Heberle’s spider orchid (Caladenia heberleana)

Heberle’s spider orchid (Caladenia heberleana)

Heberle’s spider orchid (Caladenia heberleana)

Now to check out some further areas of this large reserve. We come across some more varied spider and sun orchids which may be different species, hybrids or just colour variants. Other orchids new for the day were also found and I will list these first.

Red beaks (Pyrorchis nigricans)

Red beaks (Pyrorchis nigricans)

Red beaks (Pyrorchis nigricans)
Zebra orchid (Caladenia cairnsiana)

Zebra orchid (Caladenia cairnsiana)

Zebra orchid (Caladenia cairnsiana)
Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians)

Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians)

Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians)
Esperance white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. crassa)

Esperance white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. crassa)

Esperance white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. crassa)

Now for pics of the varied spider and sun orchids found.

Helms Arboretum rarely disappoints.

10/9/2021 ….. Stirling Range National Park to Chirelillup Nature Reserve

Camel Lake NR, Chirelillup NR, National Parks, Nature Reserves, Numerous days, Road Trip, Stirling Range NP, Western Australian Orchids

Well after enjoying our 2nd night at the Stirling Range Retreat, we pack up and head out on our exploration of the Stirling Range National Park. We plan on taking the Stirling Range Drive to Red Gum Pass Road, then north to Salt River Road. Then heading east to Formby Road South where we will head north to Gnowangerup. Obviously we plan on making numerous stops to explore for orchids and to enjoy the wonderful outdoors.

First up we head into Bluff Knoll Road to check out the orchids in one further location. Maybe we will find something different without the threat of rain hanging over our heads. Not surprisingly, the orchids found were the same as the ones found yesterday, but photos were taken again of course.

Nearly 10am, so we make tracks toward our next location. On Stirling Range Drive, we make a split second decision to pull over on the side of the road. We manage to find a few orchids on the side of the road.

We jump back in the Triton and move a few hundred metres down the road before stopping at a spot that had seen a bushfire some time in the last year. Let us see if this has triggered orchids to grow for us to find.

Now it nearly 11am so onwards we travel, with our next stop being Talyuberlup Picnic Area. First up we check the picnic area side of the road then we head up the Talyuberlup Peak trail a wee bit, before scrambling back to the triton. As we had hoped, orchids are found.

Time to consider lunch, so we move onwards to White Gum Flat picnic area. We have a bite to eat and then go exploring the nearby area. We don’t venture to far before we find orchids. This time round we actually cross the road and find further orchids including new ones for the day. Turns out the King spider orchid is a new species for us, so that was an exciting find.

Still more of this National Park to check out so onwards we go. At the intersection of Red Gum Pass Road we turn left and check out some locations along the roadside. We found a few orchids including some new ones for the day.

We now head north along Red Gum Pass Road and make a quick stop into the picnic area, where we find a few orchids but move further north to another road side location where orchids are located as well.

We eventually reach Salt River Road and turn right. However we soon pull over at Salt Lake Nature Reserve for an explore, but after a quick check not much is located so we move on to Camel Lake Nature Reserve, with a road side stop along the way. At this final stop we are lucky to find some new orchid species for the day as well as previously found ones. Photos of all those found at the locations along the way were taken to record their discovery near the northern boundary of the National Park.

Wowsers, they were amazing first time locations for orchids. 13 possible species and 1 hybrid found, however we must move on as it’s past 4.30pm and we still have nearly 50kms to our planned destination. We arrive at Chirelillup Nature Reserve, set up camp and whilst Deb lights the campfire I have a very quick scout around in the waning sunlight.

09/09/2021 ….. Stirling Range National Park and surrounds

Formby NR, Mabinup Creek NR, National Parks, Nature Reserves, Numerous days, Road Trip, Stirling Range NP, Western Australian Orchids

We awake to a cold , wet and miserable day, but we won’t let that stop us from going exploring for orchids. Finally the rain stops, so after a bite of lunch, we head up to the Bluff Knoll lookout however the actual mountain is nearly covered in clouds. The feature picture show some of the amazing metal artwork installed there. Some close-up images are included here for your appreciation.

Bluff Knoll hidden in cloud

So now is the time to commence our exploration of the area. We have a very quick scout around the lookout and parking area, where we see a few orchids. However on the drive into the lookout we saw some possible spots to check out along the roadside. So it is at these couple of stops, in between showers, that we locate the following orchids.

It’s now past 2.30pm so we only have a few hours of daylight left to explore, so we will keep close to our base. Therefore we make tracks north of the National Park, to visit the nearby Formby Nature Reserve, which weirdly is still signposted as the Mabinup Creek Nature Reserve. The northern boundary of the park is found to be very weedy and the creek is overflowing, which does not thrill us too much. So we head back down Formby Road South and venture in on the eastern boundary. Next time we need to pack wellington boots as the place is flooded, but we venture in nonetheless, after applying insect repellent, as the mozzies may become troublesome. This place proves to be covered in orchids in large numbers and many species, which is amazing to us. Refer the following images of the orchids found.

I just had to pop in some photos to show how many orchids were at this location as well as the ones we found swimming.

It is now after 4.30 so we head back toward our base at the Stirling Range Retreat, but as per usual we make one more stop. We pull off the road before the Mount Trio turn-off and head down this gravel track. This is a new location for us in the park and it proves to be quite fruitful. Our quick stop though runs into another hour. Luckily the rain holds off. Here is what we found.

With the light running out fast we do a u-turn, head back to Formsby Road South and make tracks for our little cabin. What an amazing afternoon of orchid hunting we have had today, especially given the cold and wet morning we awoke to. I think we found 23 species and at least 3 hybrids which is mind blowing but this National Park and it’s surrounding are like an oasis in the middle of cleared land for agriculture.

08/09/2021 ….. Dinninup to Stirling Range Retreat

Greater Kingston NP, Mickalurrup NR, National Parks, Nature Reserves, Numerous days, Road Trip, Six Mile Road NR, Unicup NR, Warrenup NR, Western Australian Orchids

After spending a wonderful night with our gracious hosts we pass through Dinninup and head down Six Mile Road and make our first stop at Six Mile Road Nature Reserve.

The ever reliable Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) is the first orchid found. These are a common orchid occurring over a wide range, from Geraldton to Israelite Bay. It is a unique species in the Pterostylis genus so has not been included in any of the 5 complexes. Other common names include the Bull orchid, Antelope orchid and Recurved shell orchid.

Very soon after the equally reliable Little Pink fairy (Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans) is found. They are commonly found growing in clumps and are distinguished from the Pink fairy by having a purplish/red colouring to the underside of their leaf, rather than green. Also quite a widespread orchid with populations found from Northampton To Esperance

Then another stunning orchid is found. The Silky blue orchid (Cyanicula sericea) which flowers between Jurien Bay and Esperance, is quite the stunner. The spotted labellum is very distinctive and the flowers can be up to 40mm in width, which are large enough to stand out in the bush.

Next found are numerous donkey orchids. These orchids are very difficult to identify due to all species being very similar in appearance plus many overlap in their distributions. Any help in identifying these orchids would be appreciated.

Leaving this Nature Reserve we move on, to who knows where as we are just winging our stops by using the Hema map book and Google maps. We locate a patch of bush, which is signposted as the Mickalurrup Nature Reserve but I cannot locate any reference to it online other than as a hotspot in eBird, so its location at the intersection of Westbourne Road is my only location detail for reference purposes.

A quick inspection does not turn up much. Some more donkey orchids (un-named), a Little pink fairy and some snail orchids (un-named). So onwards we go as it is now past 11am

Next stop is further south at the location Heartlea forest settlement, which is located in the Greater Kingston National Park. We head off with low expectations given the finds so far today, but are blown away by finding a brand new species for us. 🙂

The Little pink fan orchid (Caladenia nana subsp. nana) is a small orchid that flowers between Perth and Bremer Bay, in forest and woodland habitats. Being so small we struggled to get any decent pics but will share them anyways.

Other orchids found here were more Little pink fairies, donkey orchids (unnamed) and a Silky blue orchid.

Then just as we were leaving this spot a single spider orchid is spotted. From the options available for the range and colourings I believe it is a Joseph’s spider orchid (Caladenia polychroma) which flowers in September & October between Fitzgerald River National Park and Boyup Brook.

As our planned destination for the day is still some 200kms away and it now 12.30, we return to the road. As is usual for us we don’t make it far before stopping to have a quick look around, this time at a layby near Tonebridge.

We again find some donkey orchids which I will not attempt to ID, but more excitingly we come across some more spider orchids. Theses appear different to the one found earlier and are most likely the Tenterden yellow spider orchid (Caladenia straminichila) which is pale yellow to creamy yellow in colour with basally backswept petals.

Next stop is Unicup Lake which is located in the Unicup Nature Reserve. It appears a Water Ski club used to exist here, as there is an old tin shed still in existence. We have lunch here before exploring the nearby area for orchids.

First up the Little pink fairy is found followed up by Midge orchids (Cyrtostylis huegelii) and some more Snail orchids (unnamed). The round, green, ground hugging leaves of the Midge orchid are found in great numbers however as the midge orchid flowers are very well camouflaged, you need to stand still and look closely to see them.

A very exciting find is the Crab-lipped spider orchid (Caladenia plicata) which I believe is a new species for us. This little orchid flowers from September to early November in woodlands, forests and Mallee-heaths. Located between Nannup and Hopetoun, this orchid reaches up to only 350mm in height and is distinguished by it’s unusual shaped labellum and spreading fringe segments.

With further searching we find more orchids but nothing really new for the day. Snail orchids are found but naming them is just too difficult so if you have any idea of their identification, please comment on this post. Also some Corybas sp. leaves were found with some showing old withered flowers.

As we need to keep moving we head back to the Triton and hit the road again. We only get as far as Kulunilup Nature Reserve before pulling over to the side of the road. On a quick check nothing is found so we move on. Further along a bit we pull off the road at Kenny’s Tank which is located in the Warrenup Nature Reserve and take the 5 min walk towards the tank. However we are beaten back by the swarms of mozzies but do find loads of orchids, which is great.

First orchids discovered were donkeys orchids, however naming these is also difficult. Using Florabase and Atlas of Living Australia they may be one of 2 species. (D. corymbosa or D. porrifolia). Nearby the donkey orchids was the old faithful Jug orchid.

The large white spider orchids then start appearing in numbers as do the mozzies. As none are founds in clumps and based on the location I feel they are the White spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. longicauda). Listed in Florabase as being found in the Cranbrook local government area, plus with a photographic record in the Spider Orchid EBook 2018 from Frankland WA, I am confident in the ID.

Also found were Little pink fairies, Cowslip orchids (Caladenia flava subsp, flava) and Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata), which are all quite common orchids. Also seen was a sole Lemon-scented sun orchid in bud and masses of spent Mosquito or Midge orchids.

From nowhere, a sole Joseph’s spider orchid is seen, so some pics were taken.

I go across the road to check out a particular sign and discover some White spider orchids in clumps as well as one that looks a little different. The clumping ones must be some Stark white spider orchids (Caladenia longicauda subsp. eminens) whilst the unusual one could be a Tangled white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. redacta), which is smaller in size and has shorter fringe segments than other longicauda complex orchids.

So even though we were fighting off the mozzies, the orchids found made it worth it. However we must move on, so we jump back into the Triton but only get 5 mins down the road when masses of White spider orchids on the roadside force us to pull-over. We are near the Yeriminup Road intersection.

These must be more Stark white spider orchids due to their clumping habit. Also found was another donkey orchid and another Lemon-scented sun orchid (Thelymitra antennifera) which is trying to open up.

OK, it’s now past 4pm and we still have close to 100kms to get to our planned overnight stop. So foot to the petal and off we go. We arrive at the Stirling Range Retreat, check-in, then unpack ourselves into our small cabin. At least we will stay dry as the weather moves in.

Not too shabby a day with 14 species found, plus un-named Donkey and Snail orchids. Also the Crab-lipped spider orchid and Little pink fan orchids were brand new species for us, so that was exciting.

31/08/2021 ….. South Murchison to Canna

Numerous days, Road Trip, Western Australian Orchids

Well after 17 days without seeing any orchids, today should be the day we find some as we are now inland as far south as Kalbarri. Together with Richard, we have been following “The  Wool Wagon Pathway” since leaving the others at the North West Coastal Hwy near Barradale. As usual we are travelling the pathway in reverse. Our first stop today is at Marker 3 – Yuin Station, which was apparently one of the first in the district. Nothing to see now, not even ruins. Prior to reaching Marker 2 we pull over at a creek crossing as the extra moisture in the surrounding scrub may now include orchids.

As is usual Deb finds the first orchid. The little Dainty blue orchid (Cyanicula amplexans) is an excellent find to start us off on our obsession. These orchids are found inland from north of Kalbarri to Norseman, flowering from August to early October. 

Whilst I cross the road to get a photo of the Dainty blue orchid Deb also discovers a Hairy-stemmed snail orchid (Pterostylis setulosa), which is found over a larger inland range than the Dainty blue orchid.

We move onto Marker 2 which is “The Crossroads at Bumbinyoo Flats”. This was as the name suggests an intersection in the roads/pathways at which an inn and store was constructed close to a nearby spring. It only lasted a few years as it was abandoned once the Yalgoo railway line opened up. Again, there was nothing left to see.

Further south we ran into a tourist Mecca. The Wreath flowers (Lechenaultia macrantha) north of Pindar attract so many people that the shire has constructed a branch in the main road, to keep all the traffic off the road itself. Even though they are not an orchid, we had to get some photos and I have posted a couple as they are so beautiful and unique.

Moving on we arrive at Pindar, which is the starting point of the Wool Wagon Pathway, however for us it is the end. We had planned lunch here, but their is nothing now in the town, other than interpretive signage and one beautiful stone building. So onwards we go, west to Mullewa where we enjoyed an amazing meal at Inspirations Mullewa.

Overnight at Canna decided upon, so off we go, heading south. We are lucky enough to find room at the Canna hall/church site, which has hot water showers available. After setting up camp we go exploring the walk trails. Oh it so nice to be back in Orchid territory. First up we find some more Dainty blue orchids flowering singerly or in small clumps.

Not a huge number of orchids found however there are some donkey orchids flowering as well. From the prominently reflexed lateral sepals I believe them to be the Dainty donkey orchid (Diuris fefracta) which flowers during July to September over an inland range from Bindoon to Northampton.

Near the granite rock outcrop at the end of the major walk trail we also come across the Lemon-scented sun orchid (Thelymitra antennifera) which flowers from July to October over a large range from Shark Bay to Israelite Bay.

Hiding underneath a shrub we were lucky enough to find a hybrid orchid flowering, but not lucky enough for it to be open. The parents would be the Lemon-scented sun orchid and a Blue sun orchid, which produce a beautiful pink coloured sun orchid.

Next up we find the small Little laughing leek orchids ( Prasophyllum gracile) in flower. These are another widespread orchid which flower from July to October.

Then we finally find the ever popular Cowslip orchid, however these ones appear to be the subspecies called the Kalbarri cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. maculata), which is found in the northern parts of the listed cowslip orchid range. The usual distinguishing feature is the markings are usually spots, however the number of marginal teeth on the labellum, verify the ID. The Kalbarri cowslip has 4 to 8 teeth, whilst the other 3 subspecies have only 2 or 3 teeth.

Amazingly we only find one spider orchid in flower. A distinguishing feature that helped name this orchid was the broad, squat, glossy-white calli. The Glistening spider orchid (Caladenia insensum) flowers from June to September over a range between Hyden and Nerren Nerren Station, growing on granite outcrops and nearby drainage lines.

Time to head back to camp, have a hot shower, cook dinner then grab some ZZZZ’s. Seven orchid species found, plus one hybrid, so it has been a good first day back in orchid territory.