Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Elegant Piperia (Piperia elegans ssp. elegans)

Piperia elegans, also known as Habenaria elegans and as Piperia maritima, is an impressive species, standing up to and over 100 cm tall with numerous small white flowers, as many as 75-80 per spike.

I well remember seeing this species for the first time in a shady area where its tall spikes stood out like glowing candles in the dim light. It is rightly named the "Elegant Piperia."

It is not common anywhere in its range which reaches from British Columbia to California and east into Idaho and Montana. It grows in sunny areas as well as shade but is a shorter and heavier plant in good light.

The individual flowers are a little less than 1 cm in size, though the spur is twice as long as the rest of the flower. It is said to be sweetly scented, but I have not been able to detect any scent when I've seen the species.

Like the other Piperias this species has a few leaves close to the ground that have usually disappeared by the time the plant flowers.  The flower spikes, then, appear to be some sort of strange leafless plant, but in fact have already lost their leaves.


  1. Lucky wasp !!! Spider and web I see too!

  2. Marti, I think you judge the quality of a picture by the number of bugs that are in the photo! Thanks for your comments. I always enjoy and appreciate them. Can't wait until things are growing again.

  3. It is especially elegant when seen in the wild growing, as it often does, in a shady area, and almost glowing.