Only July 11 we spent most of the day exploring the Knopki Creek Road in the California Siskiyous, leaving little time for other sites we had hoped to explore. We did however manage to visit one other easily accesible site along the Rouge River in Oregon, where we had been told we could find the Stream Orchid, Epipactis gigantea, growing.
We were used to finding this orchid growing so close to water that it was almost impossible to photograph without getting wet, but in this case the plants, quickly found, were well back from the edge of the river, growing among the rocks and in the sand just at the edge of the vegetation on the riverbank and fairly well shaded by the other plants.
This plant is supposed to grow as tall as 100 cm, though we have never seen it that large. Here the plants we found were less than 30 cm tall. The leaves are pleated and the flowers are around 3 cm in size, very beautiful and very showy. There can be up to twenty-five flowers per spike, though here there were on five or six per spike.
Just before we finished I noticed a small bee that had been hanging around the flowers was now perched on the anther cap of one of the flwoers and as I watched began to scratch at the cap and eventually pulled itfar enough up that he was able to crawl underneath. He spent quite a bit of time digging around there and appeared to have some pollen attached to him.
We had been told about the Epipactis, but to our delight we found quite a number of spikes of Western Ladies' Tresses, Spiranthes porrifolia, growing with and among the Epipactis. This orchid, though not uncommon elsewhere is found in only one place in Washington State and is not at all common in Oregon and even where common is lovely indeed.
This species is usually 30-40 cm tall but here was only 15-20 cm. The flowers are tubular, creamy white and usually grow in damp areas with good drainage. The individual flowers are only 1 cm in size but each spike holds up to 50 or 60 of the flowers. Like all the Spiranthes, the flower spikes appear to be "braided," giving rise to the name "Ladies' Tresses."