As soon as the cold, wet and stormy winter weather gives way to an increasing number of clear and warm days, we know the so-called season of conception or Djilba has arrived. This transitional stage that started a few weeks back is always accompanied by the emergence of wildflowers; rather hesitant at first with some yellow acacias, soon followed by more spectacular displays in the most striking colours of red, blue and purple.
Although there is an abundance of wildflowers with different colours and shapes to be discovered, orchids spark one’s imagination most. With around 25,000 species orchids form one of the three largest groups of flowering plants in the world; in Western Australia alone more then 400 species – 413 to be precise – have been identified so far. Scientific recording started as soon as the HMS Discovery anchored in King George Sound in 1791, and the ship’s naturalist Archibald Menzies collected the first three species.
For the local Noongar people orchids provided an important food source, as the starchy roots were roasted in hot ashes or pounded into paste to bake cakes. As soon as Djilba arrived kangaroos were hunted, emu eggs harvested, wild potatoes and orchids gathered.
The season of Kambarang is already on our doorstep, and soon the weather will become increasingly dry. Although most of the orchids pictured will have vanished by then, the bush will have come up with other flowers for us to enjoy.