Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Listera cordata in the Columbia Gorge

Listera cordata, the Heart-leaved Twayblade, is a small, hardly noticeable species of our native orchids.  We found it hiking in the Columbia Gorge on May 17th, but found it almost accidentally.  We had seen Fairy Slippers (Calypso bulbosa) in various locations along the trail and had stopped in one particularly good location to photograph them when we noticed, while crawling around on the ground, that there were Listeras growing in the same location.

Later as we hiked back down the same trail we saw them everywhere, including the red variety, though we had not seen them going up the trail.  We are always watching the plants along the trail, so they must be diminutive indeed for us to have missed them.  I've described them more fully in another post on this blog:, so will not describe them in detail again here.

The plants we saw were all less than six inches tall and that along with their location leads me to believe that they were variety nephrophylla, the Western Heart-leaved Twayblade, the reddish form being variety nephrophylla fma. rubescens.  They seemed to grow for the most part as individual plants and not clumps, though always in damper, shadier locations.  Interestingly, the red form (shown below) was nearly finished flowering, while the green form was at its peak in most cases.

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