The Orchids of Western Australia

Drakaea andrewsiae


Drakaea andrewsiae


This story began in late September 2021 when Mary and I visited the Cranbrook Wildflower Show which had a small display of orchids. I noticed that some of the orchids seemed to be a bit ‘different” in their own way so I asked the supervisor for the name of the person who had set up the display. She advised that it was organised by “Bill and Joan Smith” who were not only knowledgeable about orchids but had a large number of them growing on virgin land on their farm.

She kindly gave me Bill’s phone number and I arranged to visit them in mid September 2022. I mentioned the proposed visit to David Lawson and he not only offered to come with me but insisted on taking his vehicle and so on the 16th September this year we duly arrived at the “Smith” farm where we were welcomed with a great morning tea.

The first place we were taken to was a bush block on their neighbour’s farm (permission to take us on the area was requested by the “Smiths”). Orchids were everywhere but there was nothing “different” to be seen. Bill then mentioned that he would like to show us a small flowered dark red wispy spider orchid which he hadn’t been able to identify. It grew in good numbers and both David’s and my first reaction was that the orchid was a “new species”. I took two specimens back to show Andrew and after comparing them to other similar species he was able to come up with the fact that it was indeed Caladenia erythrochila – the Lake Muir Blood Orchid, a species which had been considered to rare and endangered.

We thought that was exciting enough but there was more to come. After we had taken a number of photos Bill said he would like to show us a Hammer Orchid which he felt was a bit different. It certainly was different. David and I hadn’t seen it before so we again took plenty of photos and went away to think about it. David was the first to come up with the answer when he looked at Andrew’s latest edition of The Complete Orchids of Western Australia. In it was some photos of pressed specimens of D. andrewsiae with the description that the orchid was like a slender Warty Hammer Orchid which was densely hairy. I agreed completely, as did Andrew when I showed him my photos.

Andrew showed David’s photos to Professor Steve Hopper who visited the farm and confirmed that the orchid was D. andrewsiae.

The orchid was originally brought to the attention of orchid enthusiasts Ron Heberle and Herb Foote some 30 years ago. Before leaving Cranbrook David showed me a new form of Caladenia uliginosa which is as yet still to be named. It was a great day – one which David and I will remember for all time.