Scientific Name: Diuris
Derived from the Ancient Greek prefix di-, meaning “two” and ouris meaning “tail” referring to the hanging lateral sepals.
Description: Diuris, commonly known as donkey orchids, is a genus of more than sixty species of flowering plants in the orchid family, Orchidaceae and is endemic to Australia apart from one species endemic to Timor. All have mainly yellow flowers with darker markings and are thought to mimic nectar-producing flowers which open at the same time. Orchids in the genus Diuris are terrestrial, perennial, deciduous, sympodial herbs, usually with a few inconspicuous, fine roots and one or two tubers lacking a protective sheath. The stem is short, erect and unbranched with a leaf-like cataphyll at each node. There are between one and ten grass-like leaves at the base of the plant.
Distribution: Donkey orchids occur in all Australian states, but not the Northern Territory with one species (D. fryana) found in Timor.
In Western Australia, most grow in moist places such as coastal swamps or near granite outcrops. Donkey orchids usually grow as individual plants or in loose colonies and most occur at low altitudes.
Ecology: Donkey orchids are coloured like flowers that attract pollinating insects such as wasps, bees and flies but no Diuris produce nectar and very few have a scent. It is thought that Diuris species deceive insects by falsely advertising the presence of food.
Scientific name: Caladenia, commonly known as spider orchids, is a genus of 350 species of plants in the orchid family, Orchidaceae. Spider orchids are terrestrial herbs with a single hairy leaf and a hairy stem. The labellum is fringed or toothed in most species and there are small projections called calli on the labellum. The flowers have adaptations to attract particular species of insects for pollination. The genus is divided into three groups on the basis of flower shape, broadly, spider orchids, zebra orchids and cowslip orchids, although other common names are often used. Although they occur in other countries, most are Australian and 136 species occur in Western Australia, making it the most species-rich orchid genus in that state.
Description: Orchids in the genus Caladenia are terrestrial, perennial, deciduous, sympodial herbs with a few inconspicuous, fine roots and a tuber partly surrounded by a fibrous sheath. The tuber produces two “droppers” which become daughter tubers in the following year. There is a single hairy convolute leaf at the base of the plant. Unlike the hairs on the leaves of orchids in the similar genus Cyanicula, there is an enlarged cell at the base of each hair. The leaf may be medium-sized to large, fleshy or leathery, lance-shaped to oblong, but is always simple, lacking lobes and serrations. The inflorescence is a raceme with from one to eight resupinate flowers. The three sepals and two petals are free and similar in size and shape to each other. In some species, the sepals or petals or both have narrow tips with club-like ends. As is usual in orchids, one petal is highly modified as the central labellum. The labellum is divided into three parts, each of which usually has a fringed or dentate margin, while the central lobe has stalked or button-like calli which are often in rows. The sexual parts of the flower are fused to the column, which has wing-like structures on its sides. Most species flower in early spring but some species, such as the winter spider orchid (C. drummondii) flower in other months. The fruit that follows flowering is a non-fleshy, dehiscent capsule containing up to 500 seeds.
Distribution: Most caladenias are endemic to Australia. Eleven species, ten of which are endemic, occur in New Zealand with one also occurring in Australia. Caladenia catenata and C. carnea occur in New Caledonia, with the latter also found in Indonesia. There are about 136 species endemic to the south-west of Western Australia, 114 of which have been formally described and a further 18 hybrids which have been described and named. In Western Australia, caladenias are found in the south-west from north of Kalbarri on the west coast to the Nuytsland Nature Reserve on the coast of the Great Australian Bight. Their habitats range from cool, moist Karri forest, to swamplands near the coast and to almost arid mallee woodland.
Scientific Name: Caladenia flava
Caladenia flava, commonly known as cowslip orchid, is a species of orchid endemic to the south-west of Western Australia. It is a relatively common orchid with a single, hairy leaf and up to three yellow flowers which often have red markings. In 2001 three subspecies were named and a fourth is recognised but not as yet formally described.
Description: Caladenia flava is a perennial herb, which grows from underground stems. The leaf and flowerstalk appear from these to present several yellow flowers during July – December. The leaf is long for the species size, becoming narrower beyond the middle. Flowers are on a long stalk and are between two and five, usually yellow, occasionally pinkish or white, and speckled with magenta. Sepals and petals are broad though long, tapering to a point, and contracted at the base. Lateral sepals may be over 2–3 mm long, the upper sepal is smaller, with a reddish line of splotches along the centre. The flower has a lip over 5 mm with a small claw-shaped structure, three lobes are nearly separate, lateral lobes are ovate, the middle lobe longer and slightly broad, bordered on each side by several long structures (calli). These calli are in two rows, almost a semicircle. A column structure is present, and is winged from the base.
Distribution: Cowslip orchid is common in the Southwest, growing in a range of soil types including laterite and granite. It often occurs with burnt trees, especially marri and is found in winter wet areas, forest, coastal woodlands, and on granite outcrops throughout the Southwest and Eremaean botanical provinces.
Banksias were named after Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820 ), who, in 1770, was the first European to collect specimens of these plants.
Description: There are 173 Banksia species in the plant family Proteaceae, and all but one occur naturally only in Australia. These Australian wildflowers are easily recognised by their characteristic flower spikes and fruiting “cones” and heads. The vast majority of Banksia are found in sandy or gravelly well drained soils.
Banksia plants are naturally adapted to the presence of regular bushfires in the Australian landscape. About half of Banksia species are killed by bushfire, but these regenerate quickly from seed, as fire also stimulates the opening of seed-bearing follicles and the germination of seed in the ground.
Distribution: All but one of the living Banksia species are endemic to Australia. Southwest Western Australia is the main centre of biodiversity; over 90% of all Banksia species occur only there, from Exmouth in the north, south and east to beyond Esperance on the south coast.
Ecology: Banksias are heavy producers of nectar, making them an important source of food for nectivorous animals, including honeyeaters and small mammals such as rodents, antechinus, honey possums, pygmy possums, gliders and bats. Many of these animals play a role in pollination of Banksia. Plants face a number a predators including Rutherglen bugs, kangaroos, rabbits, slugs, snails and aphids.
Scientific Name: Rhodanthe chlorocephala
Rhodanthe derived from Greek Rhodon meaning “rose” and anthos meaning “a flower”. Chlorocephala derived from Greek chloro meaning “green” and cephale meaning “a head”.
Commonly known as the Everlasting, Rosy Sunray, Pink Paper-daisy and Rosy Everlasting.
Description: A native Australian daisy belonging to the family Asteraceae. It is hardy, adaptable and provides a good, fast ground cover. The flowers are long-lived and dry well. An erect annual herb 20-60cm high with clumps of glabrous (hairless) grey-green stems and leaves 1-6cm in length. Everlastings have a large single flowering head at the tip of each stem. Flower heads grow to 6cm diameter, gradually decreasing as the flowering season progresses. The color of the bracts varies from deep pink (almost red) through pale pink to pure white, with a yellow or black centre.
Distribution: The Everlasting grows naturally in the south of Western Australia extending into South Australia.
Ecology: The brightly coloured bracts act as petals to attract insects such as hoverflies, native bees, and small beetles that pollinate the florets. Grasshoppers also visit the flower heads. The tiny fruits are dispersed by wind, and germinate and grow after fire or on disturbed ground. It is adaptable and ephemeral, springing up whenever conditions are right e.g. during warm, sunny weeks anytime of the year. It prefers full sun to dappled shade and grows well in open woodland. It thrives in well-drained sandy soils and tends to be smaller when grown in heavy, clay soils. Plants face a number of predators including Rutherglen bugs, kangaroos, rabbits, slugs, snails and aphids.
Scientific Name: Lechenaultia macrantha
The species was first described, by Kurt Krause in 1912, using the synonymous genus name Lechenaultia. Lechenaultia macrantha is given an epithet derived from the Greek language that refers to its large flower. A common name for the plant is Wreath lechenaultia.
Description: The species, when viewed from above, has a wreath-like form during its flowering period around August to November. The prostrate habit of Lechenaultia macrantha is between 50 – 150mm in height and spreading out to one metre. The branches are fleshy, the leaves are narrow, linear, and up to 40mm in length. The large yellow, pink, red flowers are arranged at the terminus of branches in a ring. The diameter of the five petals is between 30-35mm.
Distribution: A species of low growing plant found on sandy or gravelly soils in Western Australia. The distribution of the species is the Geraldton Sandplains and Avon Wheatbelt regions in the southwest of WA, extending inland to the Eremaean Botanical Province.