Monday, May 21, 2012

Coralroots and Twayblades on Whidbey Island

Saturday, May 19th, was a beautiful, sunny day and the two of us, my wife and I, took the day to visit Whidbey Island and several locations on the island that we were acquainted with.  We went first to the Au Sable Institute south of Coupeville and hiked the woods to the east of the Institute, a rather small area but rich in native orchids.  We were looking for two orchids and found five, though one of the five was finished and two were not in bloom yet.

Calypso bulbosa var. occidentalis

Goodyera oblongifolia

Corallorhiza maculata var. ozettensis

We were looking for the Western Spotted Coralroot, Corallorhiza maculata var. occidentalis and found it at the peak of its season.  We were also looking for the much rarer Ozette Coralroot, Corallorhiza maculata var. ozettensis, but found it a week or two away from blooming.  We also found several Western Fairy Slippers (Calypso bulbosa var. occidentalis)  nearly finished, and we found the Giant Rattlesnake Orchis, Goodyera oblongifolia, months from blooming.

One orchid we did find on the grounds of the Au Sable Institute, that we really were not looking for, was the reddish form of the Western Heart-Leaved Twayblade, Listera cordata var. nephrophylla fma. rubescens.  This plant stands about a foot tall with two heart-shaped opposite leaves halfway up the stem and with tiny insect-like flowers that are only a cm in size.  We found just a couple plants but no doubt would have found more if we had looked harder.

From Coupeville we headed back north to Deception Pass and there went first to Cornet Bay and Hoypus Hill where we hiked some of the trails looking for the Western Coralroot, Corallorhiza mertensiana, which we found, but which was not yet flowering (my wife found one half-opened flower).  There were thousands of them in the woods and we will have to go back in a few weeks.  We saw from the stems that both the ordinary purple form and the yellowish form were present.

Our last stop was Deception Pass where we climbed Goose Rock and explored some of the trails and the balds at the top.  There, too, along the trails we found some nice stands of the Western Spotted Coralroot, in one clump nearly twenty stems, but with a few stems broken due its proximity to the trail.  Photographing was more and more difficult with the breeze that had come up, however, and so we called it a day and headed home.


  1. I had a single Ozette at Hoypus Hill

    Good to hear the numbers are in the 1000's, that is what I remember from 2 years ago. I was there about the third week of June and the Ozette was struggling, but the rest of the spotted and westerns were prime.

    The twayblade is a real prize. well formed and fleshy.

    There is a campground across Hwy 20 from the AuSabel area, have you ever explored it? It is very little used.

  2. We saw several Ozettes at Hoypus Hill, but none of them were blooming yet. There were a lot of them at Au Sable also, but there, too, they were well up but several weeks from blooming. Found only two plants of the Twayblade, though there probably were others we missed. It's hard to spot in the woods. As to the campground I didn't erven know about it. Will have to explore it the next time we're out there.

  3. Parabéns pelo lindo blog e lindas postagens.
    Meu blog também é de orquídea.

  4. Thanks, once again, for your kind comments. We are just back from another orchid hunting venture and I'll be posting the photos as soon as possible.