Esperance Wildflower Society
The Esperance Wildflower Society aims to promote awareness of local native flora and the need for its conservation. Members include qualified environmental specialists and wildflower enthusiasts. Members participate in regular field trips to search for species of interest, often working closely with staff of the Parks and Wildlife Division. The annual Wildflower Festival provides an opportunity to present many species of flora to the general public, including species that are unlikely to be seen in casual visits to the bush. The Festival is therefore a keenly anticipated event on the Society’s calendar.
The Esperance Wildflower Festival began as a celebration of local flora organised by members of the Anglican Parish of Esperance. Local farmers collected flowers from their properties which were arranged into floral displays in the Anglican Hall. The emphasis at that time was on making attractive displays rather than conveying scientific information.
In the late 1990s Coral Turley, from the Esperance Wildflower Society (EWS), began applying scientific names to the flowers. Each species was then displayed in a labelled glass jar.
Since then EWS has coordinated the wildflower collection and display, involving other local environmental organisations, and introducing an educational element by providing talks and activities for school groups.
All flora on display has been collected by specially licenced collectors from all parts of the Esperance Shire. The number of named species has increased by the year – there were 555 different ones in 2018. Where possible we include the Nyungar name on the species labels.
The actual species on display differ a little each year, depending on seasonal factors and the timing of the festival. Collectors don’t just focus on the showy flowers – including all kinds makes a good demonstration of the diversity of our local flora possible.
With over 2,500 species occurring in the Shire of Esperance, many of which are not in flower at the time of the Festival, the display can only represent a partial sample of the diversity that exists.
The display will also include items of interest relevant to the theme of ‘Bugs and the Bush’, such as pupal cases from the leaf litter, galls, photos of insects interacting with plants, and cells of the mud-dauber wasps. There is also a small area of named weeds to highlight that they do not occur here naturally, and to assist members of the community to identify them.
The flowers on display are named by a team of plant specialists, from EWS, the Esperance Shire and the Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions, all of whom also contribute to the maintenance of the DBCA’s District Herbarium.
Each year a different theme is chosen for the Festival to ensure there is something different to see and learn. Previous themes have included Life in the Wetlands, Granite Outcrops Environment, Sand Dune & Sea shore, Esperance Mallee, Esperance Heathland Life after Fire (fire recovery was added to the theme after the severe Esperance
Bushfires) ,Salt lakes, and Seeds on the Move. Hundreds of named photographs, relating to the theme, are projected during the Festival.
Members of EWS will be present at the Festival to answer questions, talk about plants, and try to identify plant photographs. We look forward to meeting you there – and perhaps you would like to join our group and enjoy more opportunities to learn about our local plants!