The Species Orchid Society of Western Australia (Inc)
HISTORY OF ORCHID COLLECTING IN
SOUTH WESTERN AUSTRALIA, 1791 - 1971
By R.L. Heberle
The botanical history of the South West was essentially a saga of extraordinary endeavour, where the first settlers although mainly involved with "day to day" survival, still found the time to explore and collect the strangely different flora, and ranged far and wide into what was then a harsh and inhospitable land.
The scope of this work is to cover botanical history from Menzies (1791) to George (1971) with the emphasis on those people involved in the collecting, recording, naming and describing terrestrial orchid species. A brief history is given of the lives and times of those so involved.
H.M.S. "Discovery" under the command of Captain George Vancouvre en route to NorthAmerica discovered King George's Sound (Albany) in 1791. During thirteen days (28 Sept -11 Oct) Vancouvre explored the area and named King George's Sound - Bald Head - Breaksea and Michaelmas Islands - Princess Royal and Oyster Harbours.
Archibald Menzies had been appointed to the expedition under the sponsorship of Sir Joseph Banks with the instructions to study climates, report on soil fertility, collect samples of seeds, plants and shrubs, and to put the earth and rocks to his microscope. His remuneration was to be eighty pounds per year.
He made extensive collections of plants at King George's Sound, however, most were lost before the "Discovery" returned to England 3½ years later.
Robert Brown wrote up and published the surviving specimens in his epic work Prodromus Florea Hollandia et Insula Van Dieman in 1810 (The forerunner to the Flora of New Holland and the Island of Van Dieman). This work contained the first three terrestrial orchids to be named and described from New Holland (the south western part of W. Australia). One of these was named in Menzies honour.
Below, are the first three terrestrial orchids to be named in Western Australia. These were all in flower around Frenchmans Bay at the time that Archibald Menzies collected in late September, early October 1791.
* C. flava R Brown Prod. 1810
* Diuris longifolia R Brown Prod.1810
* Diuris longifolia Two variants from Frenchmans Bay
ROBERT BROWN 1773-1858. Surgeon, Botanist and Naturalist
Under the patronage of Sir Joseph Banks, Robert Brown was appointed to the Flinders Expedition commissioned by the British Admiralty in 1801 to explore and map the coastline of New Holland. The "Investigator" first sighted Cape Leeuwin and proceeded east to King George's Sound, arriving on December 8 and continued the voyage along the south coast on January 5, 1802.
Apart from the mapping exercises of the area a defective mast had to be replaced. This enabled Robert Brown and his assistants Peter Goode (a gardener from Kew) and Ferdinand Baeur (botanical artist) to collect some 500 specimens of flora mostly new to botanical science.
* Cryptostylis ovata
During one of these collecting trips the party was stranded overnight in an area now called Lake Seppings and recorded being 'eaten alive' by mosquitoes. The most extensive search was from Princess Royal Harbour along a chain of swamps and lakes to the west where Young's Siding now stands and returning along the coastal scarp to Frenchman's Bay anchorage. Brown recorded 13 terrestrials from his King George's Sound collections and a further 18 from his eastern states collections have since proved to be represented in W.A.
We can thank Sir Joseph Banks for the success of Brown's collections as he provided ten thousand pounds to finance the Flinders Expedition. Orchids named as a result include:
*Diuris emarginata var pauciflora,
*D. emarginata var. emarginata
*Prasophyllum gibossum ..................*P. macrostachyum var macrostachyum
* Thelymitra canaliculata
*Thelymitra fuscolutea var fuscolutea
In 1871 Reichenbach named Prasophyllum brownii and Microtis
brownii in Brown's honour from specimens collected at King George's Sound
by Brown in 1801. The latter has since been reduced to synonymy because
of Brown's prior name M. rara from a collection in South Australia in
1802. He was also honoured by Endlicher in 1871 with Caladenia brunonis
(now Elythranthera brunonis)
His expeditions ranged far and wide into what was then an inhospitable and unrelenting land. He was in the forefront of settlers to visit remote areas, south to Augusta, east to the Barren Mountains (Fitzgerald River National Park) and north to the champion Bay (Geraldton) and the Murchison River and north-east to the edge of the desert country (The Eremaean)
Drummond's collections were sent initially to Captain Mangles who visited the Swan River in 1831 and later to John Lindley and Sir William J Hooker. Lindley arranged disposal of duplicate collections that were studied by Stephan Endlicher and Heinrich Reichenbach. Poor communication between European and English researchers resulted in numerous species being named more than once; this was later to cause great confusion as to the correct status of species. Drummond's collections represented some 2000 species new to botanical science, his contributions were easily the most important of the period.
Sir W J Hooker of "Kew" (The Royal Botanical Gardens) with the receipt of one of his last collections (220 species) in 1848 from the northern areas, stated that this was a fitting conclusion to a dedicated collector whose love of a unique and beautiful native flora has 'never been matched before or since. He played his part in the growth of the infant colony and was in the forefront of the exploration of the landscape. Hooker commenting on a consignment from the Barren Mountains stated that he had rarely seen so great a number of fine and remarkable species arrive at one time from any country. Ludwig Diels wrote: "He joined in every struggle the young country had to fight to overcome the difficulties, but all his labours and bitter experiences did not separate him from his favourite hobby, with rare devotion and real enthusiasm he kept it up to the end".
In 1846 the British Government recognized his contributions to botanical science with a gratuity of two hundred pounds; he was further recognized by some 100 species named in his honour.
Drummond's terrestrial orchid collections resulted in some 60 species being named. Just 30 have survived botanical revisions.
Named by J Lindley 1840 vegetation Sketch Swan River Colony.
Caladania gemmata; (Now Cyanicula)
C. patersonii var longicauda;
C. filamentosa var denticulata;
C. filamentosa var filifera
P. giganteum (No picture)
P. scabra var scabra
Named by Reichenbach, 1871, Additional Plants to Systematic Botanical Science.
Prasophyllum ovals var triglochin; (No picture)
John Septimus Roe was another of the original colonists
and was later to become Surveyor General. He became the principal explorer
of the colony. Possibly his greatest exploratory achievement was in 1848
when under the orders of Governor Fitzgerald, he was instructed to explore
from Cape Riche to the Russell Ranges (east of Esperance and named by
John Eyre in 1841). He was to look for coal deposits, permanent fresh
water and grazing land. Roe had previously explored the coastline by sea
with Captain Phillip King in 1819, he had noted mountain peaks inland
and was to name most of these.
Fitzgerald Peaks (after the Governor), Mount Charles
During this and other expeditions, he collected botanical specimens that were sent to Sir W J Hooker and Ferdinand Von Mueller. Ten species were named in his honour, one being an orchid.
CAPT JAMES MANGLES R.N. 1786-1867. Naturalist and Patron of Botanical Collecting.
Dried specimens particularly from Drummond were forwarded onto Lindley and some found their way to European Herbaria. Seeds and growing material were grown by Mangles in his private gardens and by his brother Robert who was a horticulturist. Some type specimens were grown in this way, with surplus material sent to other English gardens.
Orchid collections reaching Lindley were credited to the name of the sender.
Von Huegel visited the Swan River Colony in 1833 during November-December. He botanised around the area we now know as Perth, assisted by James Drummond and other settlers. He later proceeded to King George's Sound by ship and made further collections. He had some very pertinent criticisms about the British Governments lack of support to the struggling colony. His collections were written up by Endlicher and others and published in "Enumeratio Plantarum" in 1837 wherein he was honoured by 16 species bearing his name. This work included three of his orchid collections:
Caladenia huegelii. H.G. Reichb. At Swan River. Nov 1833.
DR ALEXANDER COLLIE. Surgeon, Magistrate and Amateur Botanist.
Dr Collie was another of the original colonists and was later stationed at King George's Sound where he remained until 1835. He took a keen interest in the Aborigines, learning their language and customs, and showed compassion and concern for their welfare. His botanical collections were sent to Lindley resulting in two orchids being named:
* Caladenia marginata Lindley 1840
Vegetation Sketch of Swan River Colony.ex
King George's Sound and Collie.
George Bentham mentioned in "Flora Australiensis"
that she made a major contribution to botanical science. After the family
moved to the Vasse her health deteriorated. She wrote to Mangles in her
last letter "I have sent you everything worth sending".
Most of Georgiana Molloy's orchid collections were reduced to synonymy. She shared with James Drummond.
Caladenia hirta Lindley Vasse River Mrs. Molloy
Ludwig Preiss was financed by the Austrian Governments to collect plants and biological specimens. He spent three years 1839-1841 at the Swan River Colony and collected some 2700 specimens, being assisted by the settlers, particularly James Drummond and Georgiana Molloy.
Most of his biological specimens were purchased from the settlers and their children. Animal and bird skins, eggs, seashells etc. There was considerable criticism from the settlers that foreign governments were taking advantage of the colony's natural flora and fauna and their own government was not interested.
Preiss aware of the settlers resentment, sought to become a British subject and offered to the Governor to make all his collections available, however this was refused.
Most of his collections came from the well settled areas and he was able to give meticulous descriptions, locations and habitats, mostly lacking from other collections at that time.
One very important result of Preiss's visit was that he influenced Ferdinand Von Mueller to come to Australia in 1852
Caladenia nana En dl.
His botanical collections were written up in "Planta Preissieanae"by J.G.C. Lehmann 1844-1847 wherein he was honoured by 40 species being named after him.
As most of Preiss 's orchid collections were duplicates of Drummond's just three have survived reduction to synonymy.
Acianthus reniformie R. Br. var hueglii Endl. Rottnest Island Preiss Aug 22, 1839.
George Maxwell arrived at King George's Sound in 1840 and did extensive collecting work around the Sound in the Stirlings and east to the Barren Mountains. On at least two occasions he botanised with James Drummond.
To provide income for his expeditions he established a nature and curios
stall on the shipping jetty and also gave guided tours for a fee. He later
became a supplier of sandalwood Santalum spicatum, even he kept
up his botanising until 1863.
Most of his specimens went to Mueller however some are lodged at Kew and the British Museum of Natural History.
Ten species were named in his honour though only one orchid was named from his collections:
DR WILLIAM HENREY HARVEY 1811-1866. Professor of Botany, Keeper of Herbarium Dublin.
Dr Harvey visited King George's Sound in 1854 and spent eight months in the colony mostly collecting marine plants, of which he was a world authority.
He had one orchid named:
Caladenia aphylla Benth. Flora Australiensis 1873 King George's Sound, Harvey
AUGUSTUS FREDRICK OLDFIELD 1820-1887. Botanist and Zoologist
Oldfield made extensive collections in Tasmania during the mid nineteenth century. He collected in W.A. up to the 1860's and his collections went to the Melbourne botanical gardens and to Kew gardens.
Thirteen species were named in his honour he had one orchid
Upper Kalgan, Oldfield.
BARON FERDINAND VON MUELLER 1825-1896. Government Botanist Victoria 1857-1873.
On the recommendation of Sir W J Hooker, Von Mueller was appointed as Government Botanist in Victoria in 1857. His prodigious enthusiasm and willingness to make extensive field excursions resulted in his becoming the foremost authority on Australian flora for those times.
As a member of A C Gregory's exploration to the Kimberleys in 1856 he made extensive collections and visited W.A. again in 1867, when he influenced numerous settlers to collect for him from as far afield as the Murchison River to Israelite Bay.
Ferdinand Von Mueller had intended to write up and publish the Flora of Australia and was most disappointed when Bentham was chosen for this work. However he co-operated willingly with Bentham. Some authorities consider that he should have been regarded as co-author of "Flora Australiensis"
His major contribution to the knowledge of flora in Australia was recognized in his award of K.C.M.G. in 1879.
He collected and named two orchids in W.A.
Caladenia cairnsiana F. Muell.
Robert Fitzgerald did early research into self pollination and pollinating mechanisms with terrestrial orchids. He did pioneering work in NSW particularly along the Hawkesbury River and in the environs of Sydney He visited W.A. in 1881 and did field work around Perth to Bunbury and to Albany. His collections resulted in the naming of 12 terrestrials, 5 of these have since been reduced to synonyms.
Caladenia lobata Fitzg. 1882. Upper Hay River
All of his orchid collections were published in Australian Orchids 1875-1894. This publication is now a collector's piece. The quality of his artistic plates, accurate to the finest detail, and with clear concise text is considered to be amongst the finest orchid work that has ever appeared.
His named W.A. orchids are all published in "Gardners Chronicle".
Caladenia macrostylis Fitzg. 1882. Upper Hay River
C. plicata Fitzg. 1882 Wharberton, St Werber gs) Upper Hay River
Diuris laevis Fitzg. 1882 Wilsons Inlet, Sept 1881
Thelymitra mucida Fitzg. 1882 Wilsons Inlet, Sept 1881
Drakea glyptodon Fitzg. 1882 Bunbury, Sept 1881
THEODORE GOADBY 1862-1944. Orchidologist.
Arrived in W.A. in 1895 and became a member of the garrison at the Albany Fort. His field work tended to specialize in orchids from Albany to Perth and into the Wheatbelt.
Acianthus tenuissimus Nicholls et Goadby Sept-Oct 1933
ex E.T.Goadby Bayswater Perth Sept-Oct 1932.
His interest spanned nearly 50 years and numerous orchid specimens are under his name at the W.A. Herbarium. He also sent specimens to Dr Rogers in South Australia who, in recognizing his contributions to knowledge named Goadbyella gracilis in his honour. It is ironical that this genus was considered to be an aberrant hybrid and therefore was subsequently dismissed as a valid taxon. However the literature and herbarium sheets will preserve and recognize his more than half a life time of dedicated effort.
R.S. Rogers records Goadby specimens in naming:
Caladenia x triangularis Goadby, Highbury Sept 1924
Pterostylis rogersii Goadby, July 1928-29
P. scabra var robusta Goadby, Perth, Fremantle, July 1927(No picture)
Thelymitra sargentii Goadby, Dalwallinu, Oct 1929
CECIL ROLLO PAYTON ANDREWS 1870-1957. Principal, Teachers Training College Director of Education.
Cecil Andrews was a keen botanist and collected mainly in the Perth - York - Northam areas and visited Albany, Stirling Ranges and the Barrens; often with his friend and associate, Oswald Sargent; his interest spanned some fifty years. Many of his specimens are lodged at the W.A. Herbarium.
His work has been honoured by 7 species of flora bearing his name.
He was the first West Australian to name an orchid and published two in the Journals of the W.A. Historical Society.
Pterostylis sargentii C Andrews 1905York, O.H. Sargent, July-Aug 190
Thelymitra psammophila C Andrews 1905
OSWALD HEWLETT SARGENT 1880-1952. Pharmacist and Orchidologist
Did extensive field work in the York area and elsewhere. Was the first West Australian to publish notes on pollination; from observations of wasps pollinating C. barbarossa. Many of his specimens are lodged at the W.A. Herbarium.
Five species were named after him, three were orchid
Pterostylis sargentii C. Andrews 1905 York, O.H. Sargent, July-Aug, 1905
Thelymitra sargentii R.S. Rogers 1930 Bruce Rock O.H.Sargent Oct 1929
Prasophyllum sargentii (W.H.Nicholl5) A.S. George Beverley, Nicholls, Sept 1948 (No picture)
Caladenia doutchiae Sargent 1926
FREDRICH LUDWIG EMIL DIELS 1874-1945. Director of Berlin Botanic Gardens
Ludwig Diels together with G C Pritzel (Teacher of Botany) traveled widely in W.A. during 1900-1901. Their most extensive collections of flora totaled some 5700 specimens. These collections were jointly written up in Fragmenta Photographiae Australiae Ocidentalis, a major authority on our flora. This work named one orchid.
Professor Domin described and wrote about many W.A. plants. He named two of our orchids.
Caladenia filamentosa var caesarea Domin 1912 Bridgetown,
Kojonup, Slab Hut
C. filamentosa var dorrienji Domin
1912 Bridgetown, Kojonup, Slab Hut Gulley, Dorrien Smith 1909t
DR RICHARD SANDERS ROGERS 1862-1942. Surgeon and Orchidologist
After correspondence with a number of W.A. enthusiasts, he and his wife Jean, visited in 1919 and did extensive fieldwork. His total of 79 orchid species named Australia wide has not been surpassed and has only been approached by the Reverend Rupp.
He named and described seventeen species from W.A. all
published in the Trans Royal Soc. of S. Aust. The most uniquely important
of these was "The Underground Orchid" Rhizanthella gardneri,
the subject of considerable research over recent years, initially funded
by a grant from the World Wildlife Fund.
C. cristata Rogers 1923 F. Simpson, Miling, Sept 1923.
C. lavandulacea Rogers 1927 Miss W. Deadman, Beverley, Sept 1926.(No picture)
Prasophyllum regium Rogers 1918 R. Pulliene, Manjimup, Dec 1917
P.lanceolatum Rogers 1920 Johnson, Albany, 25 Sept 1919. Mrs W.E. Cooke, Muresk, 4 Sept 1907.
Thelymitra sargentii Rogers 1930 O.H. Sargent, Bencubbin, Oct 1924. R.E. Edmonson, Bencubbin. Oct 1929. B.T. Goadby, Dalwallinu, Oct 1929.
Edith Coleman continued the research on pollination of Australian orchids commenced by Robert Fitzgerald during the 1880's and was involved with O.H. Sargent who was doing similar work in W.A. The results of this work were published in the "Victoria Naturalist" 1927-1934, in thirteen papers.
Her pioneering work on pollination made her the first
of her sex to publish results of this type of research. She was also the
first woman to name and describe orchids in Australia.
He visited W.A. in 1946 and 1948 and assisted by local enthusiasts did extensive field work resulting in describing and naming 13 new species. Two of these have subsequently been reduced to synonyms.
C. ericksonae Nicholls. Mrs R Erickson, Bolgart, Sept 27, 1949.
C.longiclavata var magniclavata Nicholls, Lesmurdie, Sept 26, 1948.
Prasophyllum grimwadeanum Nicholls. Middleton Beach, Oct 1946.
P. sargentii Nicholls. July/August 1949.
Pterostylis vittata var subdifformis Nicholls. Miss F. Corker, Boyup Brook, 1930.(No picture)
Thelymitra spiralis var pallida Nicholls. ex Mrs. C. Scoulera, Yarloop, Aug 1948
T. spiralis var punctata Nicholls ex Mrs Scoulera, Yarloop August 1948.
Acianthus tenuissimus Nicholls et Goadby. E.T. Goadby,
Bayswater, Sept/October 1932.
HERMAN M.R. RUPP. 1872-1956. Clergyman and Orchidologist.
The Reverend Rupp was another of the Australian enthusiasts that became involved with the Orchidaceae in the late 1800's. During an extremely active life he traveled widely in the eastern states, and corresponded and visited numerous interested people. His enthusiastic interest resulted in the naming of some 70 orchids. He published numerous papers the most important being:
Orchids of New South Wales and A Guide to the Orchids of New South Wales as sections of the Flora of NSW (National Herbarium).
His contribution to the knowledge and taxonomy placed him on an equal footing in importance to Dr Rogers.
He named one terrestrial from W.A.:
It was Alex George's continuing interest over a period of years that eventually contributed to the rediscovery of one of the world's most unique orchids Rhizanthella gardneri at Munglinup by farmer John McGuiness in 1979.
One of his most important works was the publication of
"A Check List Of The Orchidacea Of Western Australia" in 1971.
Caladenia corynephora A.S. George, Banks of Donnelly River, Dec 7~ 1957.
C. crebra A.S. George 1971 Dongara, W.A., A.S. George, Aug 29, 1969.
C. graminifolia A.S. George, Culham Inlet W of Hopetoun, WA., AS. George, Aug 1, 1969.
Pterostylis angusta A.S. George, 1971 West of Mt Trio, Stirling Range, W.A. A.S. George, Aug 2, 1969.
Erickson, Rica 1951 Orchids of the West
Erickson, Rica 1969 The Drum'monds of Hawthornden
Hasluck, Alexandra 1955 Portrait with Background-
Kerr, Ronald 1964 The Sharp Eyes of Robert Brown
Kerr, Ronald 1966 The Tool that Moved the World
Hoffman, Noel and Brown, Andrew 1984 Orchids
of South Western Australia.