Orchids of Western Australia

Orchids of Western Australia
Diuris brumalis - Donkey Orchid

Among the many wildflowers in Western Australia, there are around 450 species of orchids.


Early identifications

One of the first botanists to study Western Australia was Archibald Menzies, aboard HMS Discovery, who explored King George Sound in 1791. Many of the samples (including orchids) were lost in the return to England, but those that did survive were documented in Prodromus Florae Novae Hollandiae et Insulae Van Diemen, published by Robert Brown in 1810.

The first three orchids from Western Australia to be named were Caladenia menziesii (named after Menzies), Caladenia flava, and Diuris longifolia.

In 1802 Robert Brown himself collected 500 specimens of flora from Western Australia, including:

  • Diuris setacea
  • Epiblima grandiflorum
  • Microtis alba
  • Microtis media
  • Microtis pulchella
  • Prasophyllum gibossum
  • Prasophyllum macrostachyum
  • Thelymitra canaliculata
  • Thelymitra tigrina
  • Thelymitra fuscolutea

In West Australian Orchids (1930), Emily Pelloe described and illustrated an extensive survey. She provided an English text, paintings, and drawings for the amateur reader, a mixture of impression and scientific illustration of the genera.

Orchids of South Western Australia

Common name Genus No. species in southwest W.A. Remarks
Babe-in-a-cradle Epiblema 2
Beak orchids Burnettia 2
Beard orchids Calochilus 3
Blue orchids Cyanicula 9
Bunny orchids Eriochilus 6
Donkey orchid Diuris 21
Dragon orchid Drakonorchis 4
Duck orchids Paracaleana 5
Elbow orchid Spiculaea 1
Enamel orchids Elythranthera 2
Greenhoods Pterostylis 45?
Hammer orchids Drakaea 9
Hare orchid Leporella 1
Helmet orchids Corybas 4
Leafless orchid Praecoxanthus 1
Leek orchids Prasophyllum 24
Mignonette orchids Microtis 9 also Onion orchid
Mosquito orchids Cyrtostylis 3
Potato orchids Gastrodia 1 also Bell orchid
Pygmy orchids Genoplesium 1
Rabbit orchid Leptoceras 1
Rattle beaks Lyperanthus 2
Slipper orchids Cryptostylis 1 also Tongue orchid
South African orchids Monadenia 1 introduced
Spider orchids Caladenia 120
Sun orchids Thelymitra 30?
Underground orchids Rhizanthella 2
  • This table has its source as the Second Edition of Hoffman and Brown in 1992


plate III from West Australian Orchids, 1930
  1. Heberle, Ron L.. "History of Orchid Collecting in Western Australia, 1791 - 1971". The Species Orchid Society of Western Australia (Inc). http://members.iinet.net.au/%7Eemntee/Historical1.htm. Retrieved 2005-09-29. 

Further reading

External links