There are many different snail orchids, most of which are currently not named - being known as 'sp. something'. Snail Orchids are common and widespread throughout the south west of Western Australia. Several species such as the Short Eared Snail Orchid (P. sp. 'short eared') and the Hairy Stemmed Snail Orchid are very distinct and are easily identified. Other species tend to look alike, making identification difficult. Distinguishing features include the length of the lateral sepals ('ears'), the height of the plant, the 'pointiness' of the 'nose' and the presence or absence of a basal rosette of leaves. Snail orchids are colony forming and in good years, can be found in large numbers.
The Slender Snail Orchid is distinguished by its slender flower with long sepals ('ears') and the presence of a basal rosette of leaves. It is found mainly along the Darling Range between Perth and Albany.
The Short-eared Snail is identified by the very short sepals. It is found in coastal areas from Perth to east of Esperance.
The Tall Snail is identified by its plant height (up to 30cm) It also has large broad leaves on the stem. The flowers are much the same size and shape as the Slender Snail Orchid It is found between Perth and Albany and favours swampy areas, although it can also be found in forests.
he Hairy-stemmed Snail orchid is identified by its hairy stems (hence the name). The orchids have a basal rosette of leaves and the flowers are much the same as other snail orchids. This is the most common snail orchid in the wheatbelt, being very common on and around granite outcrops where there is more water available from runoff.