Click on the photos to check the identification of these locals
Our native orchids are truly fascinating. 


They are so easily overlooked yet when noticed, and closely inspected, their delicacy, structure and colours are astonishingly beautiful. They are a great gateway to the world of ‘macro-nature’ and get us on our knees and into the world of the spiders, insects and other plants that live close to the earth, ‘below knee-height’.

The Co-op and Bend of Islands are ‘orchid rich’, although it takes a lot of searching to appreciate the full extent of this richness. Most species only appear for a fleeting few weeks a year. Many reappear in the same location each year, others are much more elusive.

Finding Orchids on the Co-op

An Orchid List for the Environmental Living Zone (small .pdf), with specific reference to the Co-op, has been compiled from all known previous records and includes all appropriate information for an ‘official list’. The list is based in the taxonomy used in Jones 2006.

To facilitate local use the Environmental Living Zone Annual Orchid Record can also be downloaded. This is a single page list with common names in alphabetical order and with reference to the old Co-op Orchid Field Guide numbers. It is for easy use in the field and as a monthly record of the species observed each year.

Suggested identification strategy when you come across an unfamiliar Orchid

  • Take some photos to capture the main elements of the plant:

- Flower details from different angles
- Labellum
- Leaves 
- Overall plant

  • Note plant details

- size of flower

- height of plant

- any particular features that are unusual

  • Record the location, so that you will be able to find it again

  • If your smart phone has internet access:

- Go to Environmental Living Zone Annual Orchid Record to see all the likely contenders and usual flowering times.
- Then go to Yarra Ranges Local Plant Directory which has most of the Bend of Islands species.
- Scroll through the thumbnail photos (5 pages) until you find a match for your plant
- Open the species page and check the photos and details with the plant you have found

- Click ‘Child’ link and select the Genus from the list
- Click ‘Select Child’ link and select the Species from the list
- Check text or click on ‘images’ link to see photos

  • If you do not have internet access 

- Double check that you have sufficient photos and location details etc.
- Go through the process above, when you have internet access

  • If this process does not lead to a confident identification, email the details to someone with good knowledge of orchids and hopefully they can help.

The Work of Dean Rouse

We are indeed lucky that Dean Rouse spent a considerable time, in his youth, combing the Co-op and surrounding area with his grandmother, Hazel Rich, who was a member of the Co-op for many years.  Dean photographed 50+ species and later donated the photos to the Co-op to form the basis of the ‘Field Guide to the Orchids of Round the Bend Conservation Co-operative’ which has been available since 1999.

Over the last few years a small group of local enthusiasts have been searching the area, trying to find the species listed.  In doing this we have found a few other species to add to the list.

In 2007 Dean produced a regional orchid guide dedicated to his grandmother Hazel Rich who passed away in 2006.  The Hazel Easter Rich Orchid Guide (3.7 MB) can be downloaded.  This guide is based primarily on the orchid list for Round the Bend Conservation Co-operative compiled by Hazel and Dean, and the list for One Tree Hill Reserve compiled by Cam Beardsell. Other orchid species with highly restricted distributions within the Christmas Hills region are also listed in the guide.

The Co-op thanks Dean Rouse for his generous gift of this pdf and for sharing his knowledge of our local orchids. All material remains the copyright of Dean Rouse.

Reintroduction of
Wine-lipped Spider-orchids

In 2018 Nillumbik Shire Council  established a 30 x 30 exclusion plot on the Co-op for the reintroduction of the Wine-lipped Spider-orchid Arachnorchis oenochila.   The Co-op was selected for its high biodiversity habitat and Co-op members are assisting in the many tasks involved in this comprehensive project.

Spider Orchid, Wine-lipped  Coop (Aquedu
Get Out There!

Searching for orchids is a great excuse to explore the wonders of our beautiful area.  Any time you go out, if you don’t find an orchid, you are sure to find something else to fascinate, like a wildflower, an insect that may be acting unusually, some strange fungi or whatever.

If anyone finds an unusual orchid, or needs some identification assistance, email Frank Pierce as a first step. Referral to others with better knowledge may be required!

Suggested Further References

‘A Complete Guide to Native Orchids of Australia, Including the Island Territories’ - Jones, D.L. 2006

‘Wild Orchids of Victoria’ - J Jeanes & G Backhouse – 2006

‘Spider orchids - the Genus Caladenia and its Relatives in Australia’ - 2011. A DVD by Gary Backhouse (Available from Gary by email 

More Links


Here are some websites with lots of photos that are very useful to aid identification:


Yarra Ranges Local Plant Directory

Flora of Victoria