25/09/2020 ….. Peak Charles Long Weekend – Day 1

Esperance, Helms Arboretum, National Parks, Nature Reserves, Peak Charles NP, Red Lake Townsite NR, Weekend away, Western Australian orchids

It’s Friday before the Queens Birthday long weekend and I have taken another RDO, so as to make it extra long. A camping weekend at Peak Charles which is some 150kms or so NNW of Esperance is planned.

We pack up the Triton and camper trailer then head up to pick up Deb C. who rides shotgun with my darling Deb driving. We are taking Deb C. on her first ever trip North of Esperance. First point of call is the Esperance Bird and Animal Park for a takeaway coffee/hot chocolate and sweet slice. This was to give us energy for our first orchid hunting location, which just for a change is good old Helms Arboretum (Mud Map SE 35).

First orchids found alongside section 21, were the wonderful Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) , the Common bee orchid (Diuris decrementa) and the Lemon-scented sun orchid (Thelymitra anennifera) which are regular finds at this location. Oddly enough they are all yellow in colour.

Then just before hopping back in the Triton Deb spies a spider orchid in the overgrown Section 21, so we all go to investigate. We discover many beautiful large Esperance king spider orchids (Caladenia decora) in flower. The spreading petals that barely drop are a distinguishing feature when comparing them to the often co-located and similar Heberle’s spider orchid. Due to the lack of colour some may actually be hybrids with the Esperance white spider orchid.

Leaving Section 21 we head straight down to the track between Sections 1 and 2. Nothing much found along this track, however upon driving further we find the Rattle Beaks (Lyperanthus serratus) growing on the edge of Section 9. No longer right on the bull ants nest, thank goodness, but about 2 metres away. Only the one in flower though which was disappointing.

We then zigzagged our way through multiple sections and found many more Esperance king spider orchids and other possible hybrids. Could not resist posting more photos of these beautiful orchids.

We also came across some much smaller orchids. The Zebra orchid (Caladenia cairnsiana) for example has flowers that are only 15mm across whilst the Esperance king spider orchids can be up to 100mm.

We then checked out a patch in Section 83 to see if we could find the small spider orchids we had found in previous seasons. Prior to reaching the exact spot of the spider orchids some other orchids jump out at me. The Purple enamel orchids (Elythranthera brunonis) are so bright you cannot miss them.

And then the Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila) appears in it’s usual location. Only a small clump of 2 plants though is found this year. A a little further off the road are some more Lemon-scented sun orchids and Common bee orchids in flower.

Also discovered in in the reedy grass were some Elegant donkey orchids (Diuris concinna) which differ to the bee orchids in only having a small amount of brown markings at the base of the labellum. Coincidently, this species was named in 1991 from specimens collected at Helms Arboretum in 1985.

Walking back to the Triton we find more Esperance king spiders orchids and accompanying hybrids.

Moving up to Section 107 where we expect to find the magnificent Esperance white spider orchids (Caladenia longicauda subsp. crassa) flowering. We were not disappointed. These orchids can be larger the the Esperance king spider orchids and as mentioned previously the two hybridise with each other to form many varied coloured specimens.

Then on the edge of Section 109 we locate some more Zebra orchids. Some are not the usual colour and the lateral sepals are not clasping the stem, so may also be hybrids.

OMG it’s 12 o’clock and we are less than 20kms into our 150km drive, so we had better get a move on. Heading north on the Coolgardie-Esperance Hwy we make a pit-stop at the Grass Patch local store. Was an interesting reception, however Deb still purchased some locally made jam and relish, plus we all enjoyed an ice-cream.

Just north of Grass Patch we pull into Red Lake Townsite Nature Reserve and head down our track looking for the Frog greenhoods we have previously found here. No such luck this season however after eating our lunch and by a stroke of luck we found a lonely sun orchid just starting to bloom. As there seems to be only 2 species flowering north of Esperance I will be calling this one the Shy sun orchid (Thelymitra graminea). They flower during October and November, which would explain why we only found one starting to flower.

We finally reach the Kumarl – Lake King Rd turnoff and commence the unsealed road part of the drive to Peak Charles campground. We arrive to an all but, packed campground with only 1 uneven spot left. We decide to head head south around the rock, with the intention of finding the camping area in the Salmon Gums, however we find a track heading back towards the rock, so decide to investigate. It proves to be a dead end, however after a bit of manoeuvring we settle here as our camping spot.

We set up our camper and then the gazebo and camper stretcher for Deb C. Fire pit organised so I go for an explore up the rock. Way too steep for me in the fading light so grabbed a photo looking out over the woodlands, which I have selected as the Feature photo for this post. Time now to settle in for 3 nights camping under the stars.

Bliss!!

26/07/2020 ….. Boyatup Bound & Beyond

Cape Arid NP, Day Trip, National Parks, Western Australian orchids

Deb arrives home from her night shift and will spend a quiet day at home, however I am taking a friend, another Deb, out East to see what our favourite locations will produce in mid Winter.

Boyatup Hill (Mud Map SE 40) is our first destination for the day. As usual we stop along the track prior to reaching the gravel pit and immediately find some spider orchids in flower. They appear to be the Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians) due to the larger labellum and less pendulous petals and sepals.

Then to confuse matters a couple of what appears to be the Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila) are located. The thinner labellum and more pendulous sepals and petals alludes to this identification.

Next up a colourful Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora) is located growing near a mound of dirt pushed up in making the gravel pit. They are one of the largest spider orchids found in Western Australia.

Another regular found out this way is the Blue beard (Pheladenia deformis) which is also commonly known as the Blue fairy orchid. The genus Pheladenia is monotypic as it contains only the one species. They come in various shades of blue and purple plus there is a white variety, which is very rare to locate.

Around the edge of the gravel pit in a damp location more spider orchids are found, of varying types and colourings.

Then growing in patches of vegetation in the gravel pit itself, donkey orchids are found in flower. Due to the colouring of the orchids found I believe them to be Green Range donkey orchids (Diuris littoralis) as they are one of only a few Diuris orchids flowering this far east.

Moving up to the track leading from the gravel pit we find the bright and colourful Reaching spider orchid (Caladenia arrecta), which is the only clubbed spider orchid found this far east. Up-swept petals are also a distinctive feature.

Moving into the burnt area, from last summer’s bush fire, we come across a couple of donkey orchids and a Blue beard.

Further along the track just past the area we used to drive up to and turn around I find some small Mosquito orchids (Cyrtostylis robusta) growing alongside the track. The large dark labellum distinguishes this orchid as Mosquito and not the related Midge.

As we plan to visit a few more locations today we make tracks back to the Triton and along the way find some clumped Blue beards and a poor Esperance king spider orchid with all his tepals nipped off.

We now move onto Thomas River in the Cape Arid National Park. After a spot of lunch at the campgrounds we head to Len Otte Nature Trail and locate some Mosquito orchids growing under the shrubs on the granite incline, which is a first for me.

As we had found no other orchids by this part of the trail I decide to head back to the Triton and move on to another location, Alexander Bay. Snail orchids are found under shrubs growing on the coastal granite. Again I will not attempt to name these. One has very short lateral sepals however they may have been nipped off or are actually that short.

I contact Deb on the phone and she directs me to area where she had found the Esperance king spider orchids. This was great as I missed these on my last visit to this spot.

The afternoon is moving along quickly so time to head off for the last planned stop. At the top of Condingup Peak (Mud Map SE 39) I park the Triton then show Deb the granite lookout where snail orchids are usually found. However first up at the edge of the track I locate a Beautiful donkey orchid (Diuris pulchella) which is very distinctive due to its mauve colouring, which is unique this far East.

Also found along the track edge were some snail orchids. They appear to be Brittle snail orchids (Pterostylis timothyi) due to the fawn colouring of the flower and length of lateral sepals. They are also found growing on the granite lookout, however in much lower numbers than found in previous years.

Moving along the ridge of the Telstra installation a small white spider orchid is found. Appears to be a beautiful specimen of the Common spider orchid.

In the moss growing on the flat granite outcrops of the ridge many snail orchids are found. They are much shorter in stature, however still have longish lateral sepals and a rosette with pointed veiny leaves, so may still be Brittle snail orchids. I will leave the identification for now.

It’s 5pm so light is running out fast and taking photos is getting more difficult so we climb back up to the Triton and head back to Esperance. A great day out and about hunting down orchids and sharing the day with our friend Deb C.

19/07/2020 ….. Cascade Calling

Cascade NR, Day Trip, Western Australian orchids

My sister, Lorraine and her hubby Ken are visiting us for a few days, so today we head out west to Cascade Falls. We are joined by our son Jace and his little family. The water is flowing nicely now it’s mid winter. The grandkids enjoy playing with all the foam caused by the water cascading over the granite rocks. After exploring the shore we set up on a flat area for a picnic lunch.

The little family head home whilst us oldies head off further west on an orchid hunt. This is a first for Lorraine and Ken, so let’s hope we have a successful hunt. We visit Cascade Nature Reserve and go for a check in the scrub/woodlands. With luck I come across some Dwarf shell orchids (Pterostylis brevichila), which we had found here previously. Not as many but still very happy to find them again. Dwarf shell orchids flower during the months of July, August and September over inland areas between Hyden and Mt Ragged.

As the image above shows we also find the Midget greenhood (Pterostylis mutica) which flowers from July till October over a much larger range, Wongan Hills to the South Australian Border. If fact they are also found in all the states of Australia. Another larger specimen was found further into our hunt.

Not much else turning up so we decide to head back to the Triton and stumble across one nice Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) growing on the edge of the utilities track we are following.

Leaving Cascade Nature Reserve we head back east and stop along Boydell Road. In the road side scrub we locate some donkey orchids. They appear to be the Green Range donkey orchid (Diuris littoralis) which occurs in coastal and near coastal locations between Denmark and Esperance. They flower from July to early September and were only formally named in 2016 from specimens collected in 1995.

Not much else found so we head across the Coolgardie – Esperance Hwy and head into Neridup. Here we visit our favourite blue metal dump site and as we arrive I jump out to walk along the track in to see what I can find. The others drive in ,park up and get out stuff for afternoon tea. I discover some Brittle snail orchids (Pterostylis timothyi) growing in the gravelly mounds pushed up to create the blue metal dump. These awesome little orchids flower from July to September over an eastern range of Lake Cronin to Esperance. The prominently veined , pointed leaves of the rosette is a distinctive feature of these orchids.

Also on the edge of the cleared area in a slight depression, the spider orchids we found last year were again located. The Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila) flowers from July to early October and has an eastern distribution from Kondinin to Madura.

After enjoying afternoon tea we spread out and immediately find some more donkey orchids. They appear to be more Green Range donkey orchids, as the only similarly coloured donkey orchid found this far east is the Yellow granite donkey orchid. However we are not near any granite.

We now cross over Wittenoom Road and come across some Green-veined shell orchids (Pterostylis scabra) near a small, currently dry, road run-off trench. These orchids flower from May to August over a large mostly inland area from Kalbarri to Esperance. Unlike the Dwarf shell orchid found at Cascade this shell orchid has it’s labellum visible. A little like poking out their tongues.

Getting late in the afternoon and the sun sets early in winter, so we start to make our way back to the Trition. Along the way we find another colourful Donkey orchid, some more Brittle snail orchids and a small speck of blue. Blue beards (Pheladenia deformis) in bud but not yet open are found. So as the season moves on, so must we as we have a date around the fire pit at home will all our travelling companions from today.

A great family picnic followed by a successful orchid hunt. Not too bad for a Sunday in mid winter.

Successful sharing – Boyatup and more

Day Trip

22/09/2019

We are collected from our home by Eric and his father, for an orchid adventure out east of Esperance. We will be showing them our Boyatup location ( Mud Map SE 40) and in return we get chauffeured and have the chance to discuss our findings, views, information and thoughts on our beautiful terrestrial orchids. Enjoying the great outdoors by taking nothing but photographs and leaving only footprints.

Our Boyatup location had been affected by bushfire last summer, so this will be our first visit since early August. It will interesting to see which orchids are in flower later in the season after a summer bushfire.

As usual we turn off fisheries Road into the track leading to the rock and jump out once the first orchid is spied. Seen by Deb of course :). Following will be photos taken of the orchids found along this first part of the track.






Purple Enamel Orchid

Elythranthera brunonis

One of the 2 species found in Western Australia.

The Purple enamel orchid was named in 1963.

Can grow to a height of 300mm







Red beaks

Pyrorchis nigricans

One of the 2 species found in Western Australia.

Red beaks were named in 1810 and placed in the Lyperanthus genus before being moved into the Pyrorchis genus in 1994.

Can grow to a height of 300mm




Common bee orchid

Diuris decrementa

One of the 18 species in the Laxiflora complex of the Diuris genus found in Western Australia

Common bee orchid was named in 2013

Can grow to a height of 300mm

Cowslip orchid

Caladenia flava subsp. flava

One of the 4 subspecies of Cowslip orchid (caladenia flava) found in Western Australia

The Cowslip orchid was named in 1810

Can grow to a height of 250mm





Rattle beaks

Lyperanthus serratus

Is the single Western Australian species of the Lyperanthus genus

Rattle beaks were named in 1840

Can grow to a height of 500mm

We have now reached the gravel pit so drive across this to the track leading to the granite outcrop named Boyatup hill. Back in August we found loads of Pink bunny orchids and Blue beards, plus other orchids in smaller numbers. Let’s see what is now in flower. The following photos are of the orchids found in the area which was burnt by last summers bushfire.



Red beaks



Pyrorchis nigricans



Granite china orchid

Cyanicula nikulinskyae

One of the 8 species in the Gemmata complex of the Cyanicula genus found in Western Australia

Granite china orchid was named in 2000

Can grow to a height of 130mm







White mignonette orchid

Microtis alba

One of the 10 species found in Western Australia

White mignonette orchid named in 1810

Can grow to a height of 600mm




Tall leek orchid

Prasophyllum elatum

One of the 16 species in the Elatum complex of the Prasophyllum genus found in Western Australia

Tall leek orchid was named in 1810

Can grow to a height of 1200mm




Pointing spider orchid

Caladenia exstans

One of the 9 species in the Falcata complex of the Caladenia genus found in Western Australia

Pointing spider orchid was named in 2001

Can grow to a height of 450mm




Zebra orchid

Caladenia cairnsiana

One of the 2 species in the Cairnsiana complex of the Caladenia genus found in Western Australia

Zebra orchid was named in 1869

Can grow to a height of 400mm

Pink candy orchid

Caladenia hirta subsp. rosea

One of 2 subspecies in the Hirta complex of the Caladenia genus in Western Australia

Pink candy orchid was named in 2001

Can grow to a height of 250mm

Hypochromic variant






Cowslip orchid

Caladenia flava subsp. flava

Rabbit orchid

Leptoceras menziesii

Is the only member of the genus Leptoceras

Rabbit orchids were named in 1810 and placed in the Caladenia genus before being moved into the monotypic genus Leptoceras in 1840.

Can grow to a height of 300mm




Common bee orchid




Diuris decrementa




Esperance king spider orchid

Caladenia decora

One of the 22 species in the Huegelii complex of the Caladenia genus found in Western Australia

Esperance king spider orchid was named in 2001

Can grow to a height of 500mm




Dusky fairy orchid

Caladenia x erminea

Hybrid between Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava) and White fairy orchid (Caladenia marginata)

Dusky fairy orchid was named in 2001

Can grow to a height of 160mm

Beautiful donkey orchid

Diuris pulchella

One of the 26 species in the Corymbosa complex of the Diuris genus found in Western Australia

Beautiful donkey orchid was named in 1991

Can grow to a height of 500mm




Western wispy spider orchid

Caladenia microchila

One of the 43 species in the Filamentosa complex of the Caladenia genus found in Western Australia

Western wispy spider orchid was named in 2001

Can grow to a height of 250mm

Esperance white spider orchid

Caladenia longicauda subsp. crassa

One of the 14 subspecies of C. longicauda, which is one of the 14 species in the Longicauda complex of the Caladenia genus found in Western Australia

Esperance white spider orchid was named in 2001

Can grow to a height of 500mm




Heberle’s spider orchid

Caladenia heberleana

One of 22 species of the Huegelii complex in the Caladenia genus found in Western Australia

Heberle’s spider orchid was named in 2001

Can grow to a height of 450mm




White fairy orchid

Caladenia marginata

One of the 4 species in the Latifolia complex of the Calendenia genus found in Western Australia

White fairy orchid was named in 1839

Can grow to a height of 200mm




Custard orchid

Thelymitra villosa

One of the 6 species in the Antennifera complex of the Thelymitra genus found in Western Australia

Custard orchid was named in 1839

Can grow to a height of 600mm




Blue china orchid

Cyanicula gemmata

One of 8 species in the Gemmata complex of the Cyanicula genus found in Western Australia

Blue china orchid was named in 1839

Can grow to a height of 150mm




Condingup china orchid

Cyanicula sp. ‘Esperance’

One of the 8 species in the Gemmata complex of the Cyanicula genus found in Western Australia

Condingup china orchid was first collected in 1996 but is yet to be formally named

Can grow to a height of 150mm




Laughing leek orchid

Prasophyllum macrostachyum

One of 4 species in the Gracile complex of the Prasophyllum genus found in Western Australia

Laughing leek orchid was named in 1810

Can grow to a height of 300mm




Bearded bird orchid

Pterostylis turfosa

One of 13 species in the Barbata complex of the Pterostylis genus found in Western Australia

Bearded bird orchid was named in 1840

Can grow to a height of 200mm




Hybrid spider orchid

Caladenia x

Unnamed hybrid orchid. Possible parents: C. decora: C. longicauda: C. heberleana: C. hirta:




Lunch time and it’s time we move on. Eric wishes to show us a location where he has previously found the Holy Grail of orchids: Queen of Sheba orchid. He did not have to ask us twice. After having a bite to eat we head off at this new location, just off Parmango Road. Immediately we come across a new orchid, that Deb and myself had never seen. The following orchids are the ones found at this new location, which is now firmly added to our must visit sites.




Twisted sun orchid

Thelymitra flexuosa

One of the 6 species in the Antennifera complex of the Thelymitra genus found in Western Australia

Twisted sun orchid was named in 1839

Can grow to a height of 350mm




Purple enamel orchid

Elythanthera brunonis

Common bee orchid

Diuris decrementa

Cowslip orchid

Caladenia flava subsp. ?



Rattle beaks

Lyperanthus serratus

White mignonette orchid

Microtis alba



Custard orchid

Thelymitra villosa

Dancing spider orchid

Caladenia discoidea

A distinct species of the Caladenia genus endemic to Western Australia

Dancing spider orchid was named in 1839

Can grow to a height of 450mm




Lemon-scented sun orchid

Thelymitra antennifera

One of the 6 species in the Antennifera complex of the Thelymitra genus found in Western Australia

Lemon-scented sun orchid was named in 1840

Can grow to a height of 250mm




Jug orchid

Pterostylis recurva

A unique species of the Pterostylis genus endemic to Western Australia

Jug orchid was named in 1873

Can grow a height of 900mm


.

What a great new location this was off Parmango Road. Time to move on, so we take Eric and his father to our original location off Coolinup road which is on the other side of Condingup. Here we first visit the gravel pit, then decide to bush bash down to our small granite location. The orchids listed below were found on that bush bash plus around the small granite location.




Esperance king spider orchid

Caladenia decora

Laughing leek orchid

Prasophyllum macrostachyum

Heberle’s spider orchid

Caladenia heberleana



Common bee orchid

Diuris decrementa

Bearded bird orchid

Pterostylis turfosa



Purple enamel orchid

Elythranthera brunonis

It proved a very successful day with Boyatup proving itself once again to be a magnificent location for orchids, with this season especially good after last summers bushfire. Thanks to Eric for sharing his Parmango Road location we finally got to see the Twisted sun orchid in bloom and Eric the custard orchid. Nearly 6 hrs spent searching for orchids in great company.

Road Trip 2019 – Ravensthorpe to Esperance

National Parks, Numerous days, Road Trip, Stokes NP

08/09/2019

After a wonderful night at our son’s place it is time to head off on the final day of our road trip. Leaving Ravensthorpe we make our way to Mt Desmond lookout, off Elverdton Road. Growing alongside the newly grader road to the lookout, were some small Western tiny blue orchids (Cyanicula aperta). Felt lucky to find them as the roadworks had cleared the places we had found orchids on previous visits. These little orchids are found from Dumbleyung to Mt Ragged during the period August to early-October. Also found closer to Elverdton Road was a Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) which is a common orchid, found flowering between Geraldton and Israelite Bay during August through October.

Moving further east, we visit another of our favourite spots, Mills Road near Munglinup. Deb finds the first of many orchids found in this location. The 4 orchids are hybrids of the Caladenia sp. Unable to positively ID so will just post some photos. I think Caladenia radialis or Caladenia brevisura may one of the parents. Please assist with ID if you can.

Found very close-by are some Zebra orchids (Caladenia cairnsiana). These small orchids flower from August to early-November in a southerly range from Lancelin to Esperance.

Intermixed with the Zebra orchids was a Short-sepaled spider orchid (Caladenia brevisura) which adds to the possibility that it is a parent of the hybrid orchids found earlier. These orchids are found between Ravensthorpe and Israelite Bay during the months of August and September.

After further exploration a sole green spider orchid was discovered. However many more were found after further searching. The Small mantis orchid (Caladenia attingens subsp. gracillima) is as the name suggests, smaller than the related Fringed mantis orchid, we found earlier in the road trip. Flowering season is August to early-October and the Small mantis orchid is found between Jerramungup and Israelite Bay,

Another spider orchid is found, this time from the filamentosa complex. The Cream spider orchid (Caladenia horistes) flowers from August to early-October between Fitzgerald River National Park and Balladonia. The Cream spider orchid is also listed as having rare hybrids with the short-sepaled spider orchid, so it may be another parent of the previously mentioned hybrids found at this site.

A single spider orchid from the same complex, but another species is found. This time the smaller Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila) is found. Smaller labellum, thinner sepals and whiter colouring provide me with this identification.

The final orchid found in this location is the small Western tiny blue orchid.

As it is only mid-morning we decide to visit Stokes National Park, before finally heading for home. Upon arriving at the campground we immediately spy some king spider orchids. One of them is a bit worse for wear with his labellum eaten out. Non damaged specimens found with variations in colour, from bright red to pale green so identifying these will be interesting, as both the Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora) and Heberle’s spider orchid (Caladenia heberleana) occur in this location and they are difficult to tell apart. They may also hybridise with each other, so ID will not be attempted at this time. Lots of photos below to show my dilemma.

Well we thought there were lots of king spider orchids, but there is also as many Pink fairies (Caladenia latifolia), which flower from August to early-November between Kalbarri and Israelite Bay. Here they range in size and colour, which just adds to the thrill of finding so many.

Some Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) were also found, whilst pushing into the scrub to grab photos of the Pink fairies. Moving on, we leave the campground and drive back towards the intersection to the day area,where we had previously found orchids. We were not disappointed as we find a few Lemon-scented sun orchids (Thelymitra antennifera) in flower. These are widespread sun orchids found from Shark Bay to Israelite Bay during the months July through October.

Also found at this corner is the every popular Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) which is also a widespread orchid with a long flowering period. These ones were a bit unusual as they had white tips to the petals. Usually solid yellow with markings.

Final orchid found for the day was a unique spider orchid, which we last found at Helms Arboretum a few years back. A single Grass-leafed spider orchid (Caladenia graminifolia) is found growing in the roadside drain under the protection of overhanging banksia bushes. Found between Mt Manypeaks and Israelite Bay during August and September this orchid self pollinates so is in flower for only a few days at the most,so we are very lucky to have found one in flower.

One hour from home and nearly noon so we decide to make tracks, so we can have lunch in our own home. Mixed emotions as we remember the last 2 weeks during this last hour of our 2019 Road Trip.

The first week did not go to plan however we made up for it by visiting Margaret River and tasting a few wines. Then we had a great time catching up with friends from our Rural youth days before our 2nd week, which did not include the planned visit to Charles Darwin Reserve, however we discovered some great new un-planned locations. A special catch up with my cousin Mary-lou that included meeting the eldest cousin Ian for the first time. Only took 55 years.

The major purpose of our road trip, other than having fun getting out in the great Western Australian outdoors, is the discovery of our very special terrestrial orchids, most of which are endemic to WA. On this note we located 70 species/sub species of orchids from 10 genera, with multiple hybrids and hypochromic variants. Refer this post for their details. 2019 Road Trip – Orchids Found

So privileged to witness the natural beauty of our amazing little corner of the world!!!!!!

2019 Road Trip – Narembeen to Flat Rock Nature Reserve

Numerous days, Road Trip

06/09/2019

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.