Spring Wildflowers – Part 1

It’s still early spring, but the orchid season is in full swing in the South West. Although I haven’t been able to explore far afield yet, a few short walks have yielded an amazing number of species. I counted eight species of orchids in a short walk around Wireless Hill park in Applecross last week – most of the below photos are from this location. This may be due to the ‘near average’ rainfall – the best that Perth has had in ten years (BoM Winter Rainfall Summary).

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Wireless Hill is itself an interesting place and has plenty of history. It was known as ‘Yagan’s lookout’, Yagan being the well known indigenous leader and freedom fighter in the early days of the Swan River Colony, whose story is one of the foundational parables of Noongar/White relations in Western Australia. The hill gets an excellent view both west towards Fremantle and north-east towards Perth and was obviously of some strategic importance for that reason.

There is currently a very active Friends Group who can be observed (or assisted) in looking after the bush. There are significant ecological problems as there usually are in small urban remnant bushlands; especially weed invasion, and frequent fire. However, the Friends group is actively removing the weeds, and in some areas, I was greatly impressed by the health of the native vegetation, no doubt due to their hard work. They host a list (Microsoft Word .doc file) of the flora that have been recorded there.

This beautiful group of Caladenia discoidea, the Dancing Orchid, was found at Wireless Hill. I was excited to see these as I had never seen this species before.

Another shot of Caladenia discoidea flowers. This species is characterised by its short petals and flattened, disc-like labellum. There are often stripes on the petals, and the petal colour is variable, ranging between yellow, white, and pinkish.

A Jug Orchid, Pterostylis recurva.

Caladenia arenicola
The Carousel Spider Orchid, Caladenia arenicola. The specific epithet means ‘from sand’, indicating this species grows on sandplain country. Wireless Hill is also host to several other spider orchids; I saw Caladenia longicauda on the day I visited, and the very rare and very large Grand Spider Orchid, Caladenia huegelii has also been recorded there.

Although maybe not as exotic and fascinating as the orchids, Anigozanthus manglesii is quite spectacular and is the flora emblem of our state. I have rarely seen them as healthy and as numerous (except in horticulture) as I saw them recently at Wireless Hill.

Pink fairy orchid
The Pink Fairy Orchid, Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans, found at a farm in the Capercup area of the south west, between Collie and Kojonup, growing in Wandoo woodland habitat.

I’ll follow up this post with further updates as the wildflower season progresses; it’s going to be a good one. My next trip is out to the goldfields, north of Southern Cross, so I hope to capture some of the beauty of the dry country.