thomas m wilson

The Spider Orchid and the Road

October 4th, 2009


A Swamp Spider Orchid, or Caladenia paludosa.

This morning I went to walk around some damplands vegetation in Forrestdale (south-east of Fremantle near Armadale) with the folks from Perth’s Wetlands Conservation Society. This Spider Orchid is beautiful, but its kind isn’t as safe around Perth as they used to be. This is the second most floristically diverse Bush Forever site (place of conservation significance) on the Swan Coastal Plain but none of it is looked after by the Conservation Commission of WA.  The damplands that are the home of this Spider Orchid are under threat from a planned Keane Road extension – to service a new bit of sprawling Perth – which would split the regional park.  What is the Armadale council thinking?  As we amiable thirty of so amateur botanists wandered in the morning’s sunshine along the sandy fire breaks, this was something many of us must have asked ourselves.  One minute healthy stands of kangaroo paws were raising spears of red aloft, the next orange Swamp Pea was smoldering fierce orange in the undergrowth, and the next a Purple Enamel Orchid was spied shining from the shadows of a shrub.  This is beautiful and biodiverse land, full of elaborate and fascinating plant lives.  A road slicing through its heart will spread more destructive weeds and kill more animals.  How would you like a road built between your kitchen and your sitting room?  The Environmental Review, required by the WA government, of the road to go through this area is due out in February.  I’m sure everybody who walked with me this morning will be ready to protect it for the public good.

Some of these old fellas were a well of knowledge to draw from when it comes to the nomenclature of the different species of flowering plant that are glowing in the sunshine around here at the moment.

Yellow everywhere.

This is Acacia pulchella, or Prickly Moses, something which covers the land soon after fire has passed through.  Unlike this one, many species of plant around these parts currently have no common name, and a double-barreled Latin name isn’t always an endearing epithet in their absence. Thanks to the gregarious David James I know a whole lot more local plant species than I did yesterday, including many common names.

I got more out of the walk this morning than botanical knowledge.  It is refreshing to be around people with enthusiasm for the world they live in.  Thanks to everybody who shared their love of this rainbow-hued land with me as we move out of winter and into a new season.