Website of Tobias Westmeier

Orchids of Australia

Australia is home to almost 2,000 species of mostly terrestrial orchids. The south-east and south-west of the continent are particularly rich in species, with approximately 400 known orchid species occurring in south-western Australia alone. On this page I present some of the more common species of terrestrial orchids found throughout the temperate regions of Australia. Most of the described species are endemic to Western Australia, but a few species from the south-east of the country are included as well.

Several of Australia’s orchid species look very similar and require an expert to tell apart. This is particularly the case with Spider Orchids (Caladenia), Donkey Orchids (Diuris), Mignonette Orchids (Microtis) and Greenhood Orchids (Pterostylis). The situation is complicated further by the large number of hybrids known to exist in the wild, in particular among the Spider Orchids. Hence, a few of the species below have been marked as “unidentified”, and any help with their identification would be appreciated. Also, please don’t hesitate to contact me if you discover any misidentifications.

Lastly, most of the orchid profiles below are still incomplete and only contain photos at this stage, but no descriptions. I’m not sure if I will ever find the time to complete them.


Genera


Genus Acianthus

Acianthus caudatus
Mayfly Orchid
(Acianthus caudatus)
Acianthus exsertus
Mosquito Orchid
(Acianthus exsertus)

Genus Caladenia – Spider Orchids

With their large, filamentary flowers, Spider Orchids are among Australia’s most spectacular terrestrial orchids. Spider Orchids are generally common and widespread throughout eastern, southern and south-western Australia, including Tasmania. They are particularly abundant in south-western WA where they make up more than one third of all native orchid species.

Subgenus Caladenia – Lady Fingers

Caladenia catenata
White Fingers
(Caladenia catenata)
Caladenia carnea
Pink Fingers
(Caladenia carnea)

Subgenus Elevatae – Fairy Orchids

Caladenia flava
Cowslip Orchid
(Caladenia flava)
Caladenia latifolia
Pink Fairy Orchid
(Caladenia latifolia)
Caladenia reptans
Little Pink Fairy Orchid
(Caladenia reptans)

Subgenus Calonema – Spider Orchids

Caladenia discoidea
Antelope Orchid
(Caladenia discoidea)
Caladenia macrostylis
Leaping Spider Orchid
(Caladenia macrostylis)
Caladenia drummondii
Winter Spider Orchid
(Caladenia drummondii)
Caladenia longicauda
White Spider Orchid
(Caladenia longicauda)
Caladenia splendens
Splendid Spider Orchid
(Caladenia splendens)
Caladenia speciosa
Sandplain White Spider Orchid
(Caladenia speciosa)
Caladenia sp.
Unidentified Spider Orchid
(Caladenia sp.)
Caladenia uliginosa
Darting Spider Orchid
(Caladenia uliginosa)
Caladenia nivalis
Exotic Spider Orchid
(Caladenia nivalis)
Caladenia ferruginea
Rusty Spider Orchid
(Caladenia ferruginea)
Caladenia brownii
Karri Spider Orchid
(Caladenia brownii)
Caladenia lorea
Blushing Spider Orchid
(Caladenia lorea)
Caladenia arenicola
Carousel Spider Orchid
(Caladenia arenicola)
Caladenia georgei
Tuart Spider Orchid
(Caladenia georgei)
Caladenia thinicola
Scott River Spider Orchid
(Caladenia thinicola)
Caladenia paludosa
Swamp Spider Orchid
(Caladenia paludosa)
Caladenia williamsiae
Williams’ Spider Orchid
(Caladenia williamsiae)
Caladenia rhomboidiformis
Diamond Spider Orchid
(Caladenia rhomboidiformis)
Caladenia ensata
Stumpy Spider Orchid
(Caladenia ensata)
Caladenia longiclavata
Clubbed Spider Orchid
(Caladenia longiclavata)
Caladenia magniclavata
Big Clubbed Spider Orchid
(Caladenia magniclavata)
Caladenia infundibularis
Funnel-web Spider Orchid
(Caladenia infundibularis)
Caladenia falcata
Fringed Mantis Orchid
(Caladenia falcata)
Caladenia attingens
Forest Mantis Orchid
(Caladenia attingens)
Caladenia corynephora
Club-lipped Spider Orchid
(Caladenia corynephora)

Subgenus Phlebochilus – Wispy Spider Orchids

Caladenia nobilis
Noble Spider Orchid
(Caladenia nobilis)
Caladenia vulgata
Common Spider Orchid
(Caladenia vulgata)
Caladenia pendens
Pendant Spider Orchid
(Caladenia pendens)
Caladenia fluvialis
Brookton Highway Spider Orchid
(Caladenia fluvialis)
Caladenia radialis
Drooping Spider Orchid
(Caladenia radialis)
Caladenia xantha
Primrose Spider Orchid
(Caladenia xantha)
Caladenia sp.
Unidentified Spider Orchid
(Caladenia sp.)
Caladenia polychroma
Joseph’s Spider Orchid
(Caladenia polychroma)
Caladenia chapmanii
Chapman’s Spider Orchid
(Caladenia chapmanii)
Caladenia filifera
Blood Spider Orchid
(Caladenia filifera)
Caladenia caesarea
Mustard Orchid
(Caladenia caesarea)

Hybrids

Caladenia longicauda × uliginosa
Protruding Spider Orchid
(Caladenia × exserta)
Caladenia falcata × longicauda
Wheatbelt Spider Orchid
(Caladenia × cala)
Caladenia arenicola × longicauda
Caladenia arenicola × longicauda
Caladenia arenicola × georgei
Caladenia arenicola × georgei
Caladenia arenicola × paludosa
Caladenia arenicola × paludosa
Caladenia paludosa × Caladenia sp.
Caladenia paludosa × Caladenia sp.
Caladenia attingens × infundibularis
Caladenia attingens × infundibularis
Caladenia carnea × catenata
Caladenia carnea × catenata

Genus Caleana

This genus contains only a single species, the Large Duck Orchid (C. major), which is common and widespread across south-eastern Australia, including Tasmania. Its unusual, duck-shaped flower is similar to those of the Duck Orchids (Paracaleana).

Caleana major
Large Duck Orchid
(Caleana major)

Genus Calochilus – Beard Orchids

With their uniquely “bearded” labellum, Beard Orchids are among Australia’s most spectacular and easily recognisable orchids. Beard Orchids are mainly found throughout south-eastern Australia, where they are generally common and widespread. A few species can also be found in south-western WA and throughout the tropical areas of northern Australia, although they are generally less abundant in these areas.

Calochilus campestris
Copper Beard Orchid
(Calochilus campestris)
Calochilus paludosus
Red Beard Orchid
(Calochilus paludosus)
Calochilus robertsonii
Purple Beard Orchid
(Calochilus robertsonii)
Calochilus gracillimus
Slender Beard Orchid
(Calochilus gracillimus)
Calochilus sp.
Unidentified Beard Orchid
(Calochilus sp.)

Genus Corybas – Helmet Orchids

Corybas recurvus
Helmet Orchid
(Corybas recurvus)
Corybas barbarae
Fairy Lanterns
(Corybas barbarae)

Genus Cryptostylis

Cryptostylis ovata
Slipper Orchid
(Cryptostylis ovata)
Cryptostylis subulata
Large Tongue Orchid
(Cryptostylis subulata)
Cryptostylis erecta
Bonnet Orchid
(Cryptostylis erecta)

Genus Cyanicula

Cyanicula gemmata
Blue China Orchid
(Cyanicula gemmata)
Cyanicula gertrudiae
Pale China Orchid
(Cyanicula gertrudiae)
Cyanicula sp. ‘Dale’
Dale China Orchid
(Cyanicula sp. ‘Dale’)
Cyanicula sericea
Silky Blue Orchid
(Cyanicula sericea)

Genus Cyrtostylis

Cyrtostylis huegelii
Midge Orchid
(Cyrtostylis huegelii)

Genus Dipodium – Hyacinth Orchids

Dipodium variegatum
Spotted Hyacinth Orchid
(Dipodium variegatum)
Dipodium roseum
Rosy Hyacinth Orchid
(Dipodium roseum)

Genus Disa

This genus is native to southern Africa, with one species, the South African Orchid (D. bracteata), having been introduced to Western Australia by accident. First recorded at Albany in the 1940s, the South African Orchid has now spread across large areas of south-western and south-eastern Australia and is a common and widespread weed.

Disa bracteata
South African Orchid
(Disa bracteata)

Genus Diuris – Donkey Orchids

Donkey Orchids are among Australia’s most common and widespread orchids. They are easily recognised by the two “donkey ears” formed by their two petals, although many species look very similar and are difficult to tell apart. Donkey Orchids are found throughout south-eastern and south-western Australia. They don’t produce any nectar, but instead imitate other native flowers to attract pollinators.

Diuris brumalis
Winter Donkey Orchid
(Diuris brumalis)
Diuris corymbosa
Common Donkey Orchid
(Diuris corymbosa)
Diuris porrifolia
Small-flowered Donkey Orchid
(Diuris porrifolia)
Diuris recurva
Mini Donkey Orchid
(Diuris recurva)
Diuris tinkeri
Arrowsmith Pansy Orchid
(Diuris tinkeri)
Diuris magnifica
Pansy Orchid
(Diuris magnifica)
Diuris longifolia
Purple Pansy Orchid
(Diuris longifolia)
Diuris jonesii
Dunsborough Donkey Orchid
(Diuris jonesii)
Diuris tinctoria
Sandplain Donkey Orchid
(Diuris tinctoria)
Diuris sp.
Unidentified Donkey Orchid
(Diuris sp.)
Diuris sp.
Unidentified Donkey Orchid
(Diuris sp.)
Diuris sp.
Unidentified Donkey Orchid
(Diuris sp.)
Diuris sp.
Unidentified Donkey Orchid
(Diuris sp.)
Diuris laxiflora
Bee Orchid
(Diuris laxiflora)
Diuris decrementa
Common Bee Orchid
(Diuris decrementa)
Diuris sp. ‘Augusta’
Augusta Bee Orchid
(Diuris sp. ‘Augusta’)

Genus Drakaea – Hammer Orchids

Hammer Orchids are among the most peculiar orchids of Australia and certainly among the least flower-like. They produce pheromones that attract male wasps. When the wasp gets hold of the labellum and attempts to fly off with the false female, the labellum flips over, pushing the wasp against the stigma and pollen. Hammer Orchids are restricted to coastal areas of south-western Australia.

Drakaea glyptodon
King-in-his-carriage
(Drakaea glyptodon)
Drakaea livida
Warty Hammer Orchid
(Drakaea livida)

Hybrids

Drakaea gracilis × livida
Drakaea gracilis × livida

Genus Elythranthera – Enamel Orchids

There are only two species in this genus, the Purple Enamel Orchid (E. brunonis) and the Pink Enamel Orchid (E. emarginata). Both species are restricted to south-western WA where they are generally common and widespread. The English name is a reference to the characteristic glossy flowers.

Elythranthera brunonis
Purple Enamel Orchid
(Elythranthera brunonis)
Elythranthera emarginata
Pink Enamel Orchid
(Elythranthera emarginata)

Hybrids

Elythranthera × intermedia
Intermediate Enamel Orchid
(Elythranthera × intermedia)

Genus Ericksonella

Ericksonella saccharata
Sugar Orchid
(Ericksonella saccharata)

Genus Eriochilus – Bunny Orchids

Eriochilus dilatatus
White Bunny Orchid
(Eriochilus dilatatus)
Eriochilus helonomos
Swamp Bunny Orchid
(Eriochilus helonomos)
Eriochilus sp.
Unidentified Bunny Orchid
(Eriochilus sp.)

Genus Gastrodia

Gastrodia lacista
Potato Orchid
(Gastrodia lacista)

Genus Glossodia

Glossodia minor
Small Waxlip Orchid
(Glossodia minor)

Genus Leporella

This genus contains only a single species, the Hare Orchid (L. fimbriata), which is found across south-western WA and parts of south-eastern SA and south-western VIC. While common, the Hare Orchid’s tiny flowers are perfectly camouflaged and easily overlooked amidst the surrounding vegetation.

Leporella fimbriata
Hare Orchid
(Leporella fimbriata)

Genus Leptoceras

Leptoceras menziesii
Rabbit Orchid
(Leptoceras menziesii)

Genus Lyperanthus

Lyperanthus serratus
Rattle Beaks
(Lyperanthus serratus)

Genus Microtis – Mignonette Orchids

Microtis media
Common Mignonette Orchid
(Microtis media)
Microtis atrata
Swamp Mignonette Orchid
(Microtis atrata)
Microtis parviflora
Slender Onion Orchid
(Microtis parviflora)

Genus Orthoceras – Horned Orchids

Orthoceras strictum
Horned Orchid
(Orthoceras strictum)

Genus Paracaleana – Duck Orchids

Duck Orchids are among the most peculiar orchids of Australia. Their strange, duck-shaped flowers produce a pheromone that attracts male wasps. When the wasp lands on the labellum and attempts to mate with the false female, the labellum flips over and pushes the wasp against the stigma and pollen. Duck Orchids are confined to parts of south-eastern and south-western Australia, including Tasmania, and usually avoid the semi-arid inland areas.

Paracaleana minor
Small Duck Orchid
(Paracaleana minor)
Paracaleana nigrita
Flying Duck Orchid
(Paracaleana nigrita)
Paracaleana triens
Broad-billed Duck Orchid
(Paracaleana triens)
Paracaleana gracilicordata
Slender-leafed Duck Orchid
(Paracaleana gracilicordata)

Genus Pheladenia

Pheladenia deformis
Blue Fairy Orchid
(Pheladenia deformis)

Genus Praecoxanthus

Praecoxanthus aphyllus
Leafless Orchid
(Praecoxanthus aphyllus)

Genus Prasophyllum – Leek Orchids

Leek Orchids are among Australia’s tallest orchids, with some species growing up to 2 metres tall. They are generally found across south-eastern and south-western Australia, including Tasmania. Many Leek Orchids will flower in greater numbers in the season following a hot summer bushfire, and some species will only ever flower after fire and otherwise only produce leaves.

Prasophyllum fimbria
Fringed Leek Orchid
(Prasophyllum fimbria)
Prasophyllum giganteum
Bronze Leek Orchid
(Prasophyllum giganteum)
Prasophyllum hians
Yawning Leek Orchid
(Prasophyllum hians)
Prasophyllum gracile
Little Laughing Leek Orchid
(Prasophyllum gracile)
Prasophyllum plumiforme
Dainty Leek Orchid
(Prasophyllum plumiforme)
Prasophyllum ovale
Little Leek Orchid
(Prasophyllum ovale)
Prasophyllum cyphochilum
Pouched Leek Orchid
(Prasophyllum cyphochilum)
Prasophyllum parvifolium
Autumn Leek Orchid
(Prasophyllum parvifolium)

Genus Pterostylis – Greenhood Orchids

Greenhood Orchids are among Australia’s most common and widespread orchids. They can be found almost anywhere from the semi-arid interior to the temperate rainforests in the south. With their generally greenish and brownish colours, most Greenhoods are rather inconspicuous and easily overlooked. Many species look very similar and can therefore be difficult to identify in the wild.

Subgenus Pterostylis

Section Pterostylis
Pterostylis nutans
Nodding Greenhood
(Pterostylis nutans)
Pterostylis hispidula
Box Greenhood
(Pterostylis hispidula)
Pterostylis erecta
Upright Maroonhood
(Pterostylis erecta)
Section Foliosae – Snail Orchids and Shell Orchids
Pterostylis dilatata
Robust Snail Orchid
(Pterostylis dilatata)
Pterostylis sp. ‘short sepals’
Short-eared Snail Orchid
(Pterostylis sp. ‘short sepals’)
Pterostylis sp. ‘inland’
Hairy-stemmed Snail Orchid
(Pterostylis sp. ‘inland’)
Pterostylis sp. ‘Helena River’
Limestone Snail Orchid
(Pterostylis sp. ‘Helena River’)
Pterostylis sp. ‘crinkled leaf’
Slender Snail Orchid
(Pterostylis sp. ‘crinkled leaf’)
Pterostylis sp.
Unidentified Snail Orchid
(Pterostylis sp.)
Pterostylis hamiltonii
Red-veined Shell Orchid
(Pterostylis hamiltonii)
Pterostylis aspera
Brown-veined Shell Orchid
(Pterostylis aspera)
Pterostylis grandiflora
Cobra Greenhood
(Pterostylis grandiflora)

Subgenus Oligochaetochilus

Section Catochilus – Bird Orchids
Pterostylis barbata
Bird Orchid
(Pterostylis barbata)
Pterostylis sp. ‘dwarf’
Dwarf Bird Orchid
(Pterostylis sp. ‘dwarf’)
Pterostylis turfosa
Bearded Bird Orchid
(Pterostylis turfosa)
Section Oligochaetochilus – Rufous Greenhoods
Pterostylis ciliata
Hairy Rufous Greenhood
(Pterostylis ciliata)
Pterostylis perculta
Ruddy Hood
(Pterostylis perculta)
Section Stamnorchis – Jug Orchid
Pterostylis recurva
Jug Orchid
(Pterostylis recurva)
Section Urochilus – Banded Greenhoods
Pterostylis vittata
Banded Greenhood
(Pterostylis vittata)
Pterostylis sp. ‘coastal’
Coastal Banded Greenhood
(Pterostylis sp. ‘coastal’)
Pterostylis sanguinea
Dark Banded Greenhood
(Pterostylis sanguinea)
Pterostylis concava
Cupped Banded Greenhood
(Pterostylis concava)
Pterostylis sp. ‘crowded’
Crowded Banded Greenhood
(Pterostylis sp. ‘crowded’)
Pterostylis sp. ‘northern’
Northern Banded Greenhood
(Pterostylis sp. ‘northern’)
Pterostylis sp.
Unidentified Greenhood Orchid
(Pterostylis sp.)
Pterostylis sargentii
Frog Greenhood
(Pterostylis sargentii)
Pterostylis sp.
Unidentified Greenhood Orchid
(Pterostylis sp.)
Section Squamatae
Pterostylis longifolia
Tall Greenhood
(Pterostylis longifolia)

Genus Pyrorchis

Pyrorchis nigricans
Red Beaks
(Pyrorchis nigricans)

Genus Spiculaea

This genus contains only a single species, the rather bizarre Elbow Orchid (S. ciliata), which is common and widespread across south-western Australia.

Spiculaea ciliata
Elbow Orchid
(Spiculaea ciliata)

Genus Thelymitra – Sun Orchids

Sun Orchids are found across southern Australia, including Tasmania, and are easily recognised by their characteristic flowers with all sepals and petals usually being of the same colour and size. Their common name refers to the habit of many species to only open their flowers on warm and sunny days. While the Sun Orchids of south-eastern Australia are mostly uniformly blue, the species of south-western Australia come in a wide range of spectacular colours and are considered as some of the most beautiful orchids of Australia.

Thelymitra crinita
Queen Orchid
(Thelymitra crinita)
Thelymitra macrophylla
Scented Sun Orchid
(Thelymitra macrophylla)
Thelymitra ixioides
Spotted Sun Orchid
(Thelymitra ixioides)
Thelymitra graminea
Shy Sun Orchid
(Thelymitra graminea)
Thelymitra petrophila
Granite Sun Orchid
(Thelymitra petrophila)
Thelymitra frenchii
Scarp Sun Orchid
(Thelymitra frenchii)
Thelymitra vulgaris
Slender Sun Orchid
(Thelymitra vulgaris)
Thelymitra apiculata
Cleopatra’s Needles
(Thelymitra apiculata)
Thelymitra variegata
Queen of Sheba
(Thelymitra variegata)
Thelymitra pulcherrima
Northern Queen of Sheba
(Thelymitra pulcherrima)
Thelymitra maculata
Eastern Curly Locks
(Thelymitra maculata)
Thelymitra flexuosa
Twisted Sun Orchid
(Thelymitra flexuosa)
Thelymitra antennifera
Vanilla Orchid
(Thelymitra antennifera)
Thelymitra villosa
Custard Orchid
(Thelymitra villosa)
Thelymitra benthamiana
Leopard Orchid
(Thelymitra benthamiana)