I didn't intend our trip to be a wild orchid hunt, but it became that in a way, as we searched for orchids we hadn't seen before. Wild orchids are often very small, hide under bushes, and blend into their backgrounds, but my husband is a really great orchid spotter to have along. I love adding photos of specimens to my photo library which are new to me.
However, I am not a Botanist, and there are around 400 species of native orchids in Western Australia, so I can't absolutely identify some of the orchids I will share with you, other than their family name.
This is one of the spider orchids, which we found hiding in the shadows at the Cockleshell Gully picnic area in Lesueur National Park.
Named after Charles-Alexandre Lesueur, a natural history artist aboard the French ship Naturaliste during its 1801 expedition, Lesueur National Park covers 26,987 hectares and has a wide range of geological formations, landscapes and soil types. It is a biodiversity hotspot boasting an exceptionally diverse range of flora, with more than 900 species, comprising 10 per cent of the state's known flora, including seven species of declared rare flora, making it an important reserve for flora conservation. Much of Lesueur is covered by low heath, known as Kwongan by Aboriginal people - low scrub that a man can see over. You can find out more about Lesueur National Park here - DPAW-Lesueur
These are Cowslip orchids - Caladenia flava. Cowslips are an extremely common orchid which are widespread over most of the south west of Western Australia, and are often found in colonies. The flowers have a distinctive colour and shape, however they can vary from red to brownish markings, to very pale with almost no markings.
From our beach campsite at Sandy Cape just north of Jurien, we travelled eastward to Eneabba, and then up the Brand Highway to the private reserve, Western Flora. Set on 160 acres, they have a very nice caravan park here, with bush walk trails throughout the property, and guided walks in the late afternoon.
These are Red Beaks - Pyrorchis nigricans. These orchids are extremely widespread and you often see them in colonies. You can see in the last image the flat leaf on the ground, known as Elephant Ears, from which the stem grows, but which don't always produce flowers.
This is the Arrowsmith Spider Orchid - Caledenia crebra. I actually had a little difficulty photographing this one as it was right under the low straggly branches of a bush, and this was the only angle I could get. The Arrowsmith was a new orchid for my collection.
And some more orchids from our walks along the bush trails of Western Flora. Clockwise from top left, Spider Orchid, Blue China orchid, Donkey Orchids, Cowslips, and in the centre one of the Leak Orchid varieties.
And perhaps my biggest disappointment from my visit to Western Flora, the Shirt Orchid, also known as the Bell Sun Orchid - Thelymitra campanulata. Why disappointment? This was the first time I had ever seen this orchid, and I didn't see it open. Because it is a sun orchid, they rarely open if it is cloudy. By the time I had been told about the whereabouts of this orchid, we had complete cloud cover, and although I visited several times, as its location was quite near the caravan park, I never saw it open. The petals have prominent striping, much like a shirt - hence the name.
Our next night was spent bush camping at Bunjil Rocks, just 1km in from Bunjil Siding, 42km south of Perenjori. This place had been recommended to us and we spent a lovely quiet night camping here, and exploring over and around the rocks. There were quite a few Lemon Scented Sun Orchids in the rock gardens on the rock, but unfortunately because of the cloud cover, and they are sun orchids, they wouldn't come out to play. But it was a lovely place to camp.
The next day we headed south, stopping at the Miamoon Reserve, 27km west of Dalwallinu. This is a recommended location for orchid hunters, and we weren't disappointed. It is a good idea when you are wildflower hunting to go into local Visitor Information Centres to gather information on what is flowering where, as locations can vary seasonally. So armed with a map, we headed out to Mia Moon Reserve which is located over and around a granite rock - perfect for orchids.
There must have been a town at Miamoon at one time, as you can see the remains of the old cricket pitch, and the site of the Miamoon school from 1935-1950.
There were lots of Donkey Orchids, and the Leak Orchids had finished, but what I most wanted to find were these.....
The Bee Orchid - Diuris laxiflora - a new one for my collection. These are very small versions of the donkey orchids with similar colouring, but with distinctive dark markings on the labellum.
You can compare them with these donkey orchids also found at Miamoon. Can you see the difference?
I was also delighted to find the Lemon-scented Sun Orchid, also known as the Vanilla Orchid - Thelymitra antennifera - open at Miamoon. Don't you just love their little faces. I think they look like they are wearing sunglasses and that they are smiling!
We also found the Snail Orchid and a white form of the Spider Orchid family.
After an overnight stop at Goomalling, we headed on down to the Dryandra Woodland, 38km north of Narrogin, arriving early afternoon. This is a favourite place of mine during spring. You can found out more about Dryandra here - DPAW-Dryandra Woodland
In the past we have always camped at the Congelin Dam campground, but this time we decided to try out the fairly new Gnaala-Mia-Campground. There is a fairly easy 3km loop walk trail you can do right from the campsite, which made for an fairly easy stroll for wildflower hunting.
This is the Sugar Orchid - Ericksonella saccharata - several of which were right near our camp, and which we saw lots of along the walk trail.
The next morning before we left for home we went over to the Congelin Dam rail trail, as we know a place among the Shea-oak trees where there are usually lots of orchids this time of year. You need to make sure you wear long sleeves and long pants and a douse of insect repellent though, as the mosquitoes are veracious!
These are some of what we saw - clockwise from top left - Dragon Orchid, a creamy spider orchid, another spider orchid, the Jug orchid, another spider, the snail orchid, cowslips, donkey orchids and the Blue China Orchid in the centre.
And not forgetting the Lemon Scented Sun Orchid
And these clusters of gorgeous tiny red spider orchids which I need to have identified -
Of course wildflower hunting is not just about orchids. There are thousands of varieties of wildflowers in Western Australia, and we saw many more varieties on our little wildflower jaunt last week, so there will be more posts to come where I will share some more of the wonderful array of Western Australian wildflowers.
A couple of good identification books are -
Eddy Wajon's series of 4 books - Colour Guide to Spring Wildflowers of Western Australia
Guide to Native Orchids of South Western Australia by Bob Liddlelow
Dept of Parks & Wildlife Bush Books pocket guides
Thank you for stopping by. I hope you have enjoyed this little look at some of Western Australian wild orchids. This morning I have just discovered that some orchids have started flowering in our little bush block near where we live. So time to go out there with my camera. Do you have a favourite place for searching for wildflowers? Perhaps you would like to tell us about it in the comments.
You might also like -
Crooked Brook Forest Walk
The Old Timberline Trail, Nannup
Meeting a Bilby in the Dryandra Woodland
I value your comments and look forward to hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return. Have a wonderful week.
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Life in Reflection
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