Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Platanthera stricta along the Yellowhead Highway

The green-flowered Platantheras are especially hard to distinguish and admittedly, only someone who was very interested in the native orchids of the Northwest would even want to try to figure them out.  Platanthera stricta, the Slender Bog Orchis, is distinguished by it inflated spur, visible in the first photo, and by its narrow straight-sided lip.

We kept an eye out for this orchid, knowing we were close to its blooming time, but did not see until late in the evening as we were on our way home.  Then we saw it in abundance along Highway 5, the Yellowhead Highway, south of Valemount and all the way past Blue River where it was growing with Platanthera dilatata, the white-flowered Bog Candle.

In that stretch of highway it seemed to be everywhere, even though we had not found it at all on the east-west section of the highway, Highway 16, from Tete Jaune Cache to Jasper National Park.  There it was replaced by the similar species, Platanthera huronensis, distinguished by its lanceolate (lance-head-shaped) lip, whitish-green color, and cylindrical spur.

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