Monday, August 27, 2012

Pad-leaved Orchis and Lesser Rattlesnake Orchis along the Berg Lake Trail

We were in Edmonton August 6-10 to see our son-in-law, daughter and two grandchildren there.  We left early in the morning on the 11th and spent the day in Mount Robson Provincial Park hiking the Berg Lake trail as far as Whitehorn, about seven miles (23 kilometers).

We love this area for its spectacular scenery, but it is also an orchidist's paradise, and though we were later than usual, we did find a few in bloom, including one rather common orchid we had not seen in bloom before, as well as many old friends finished blooming and gone to seed.

Those we saw finished and gone to seed were:
Amerorchis rotundifolia (Small Round-leaved Orchis)
Calypso bulbosa var. americana (Eastern Fairy Slipper)
Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens (Large Yellow Lady's Slipper)
Cypripedium passerinum (Sparrow's-egg Lady's Slipper)
Listera borealis (Northern Twayblade)
Listera cordata var. cordata (Heart-leaved Twayblade)
Platanthera aquilonis (Northern Green Bog Orchis)
Platanthera dilatata (Bog Candle or White Bog Orchis)
Platanthera huronensis (Green Bog Orchis) - a few of these were still in bloom
Platanthera obtusata var. obtusata (Blunt-leaved Rein Orchis
Platanthera stricta (Slender Bog Orchis)

There were a couple we had seen before that we did not see this time:
Corallorhiza maculata var. maculata (Spotted Coralroot)
Corallorhiza trifida (Early Coralroot)
Coeloglossum viride var. virescens (Long-bracted Green Orchis)

We also saw Goodyera oblongifolia, the Giant Rattlesnake Orchis just starting to bloom, but I did not get any pictures as it is common throughout our area.  The two we did see in bloom were the Lesser Rattlesnake Orchis, Goodyera repens, and the Pad-leaved Orchis, Platanthera orbiculata.

The latter was blooming as single plants scattered in mossy, shady areas throughout the woods to the east of Kinney Lake.  It is without doubt the most beautiful of the Platantheras in our area, both for its large and striking flowers and its beautiful, plate-shaped leaves.

The Lesser Rattlesnake Orchis we had seen before, but never in bloom, since we are usually in the area in June and July and this blooms in August.  Its crystalline white flowers were a delight.  It was everywhere and did not seem to be very fussy about location.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Hooded Ladies' Tresses near Diablo Lake

I had a youth camp in eastern Washington from July 30 to August 2 and some of the attendees rode with me.  We went by way of Highway 20, a very scenic but slow route that takes one through North Cascades National Park and through the Okanagan area east of the mountains.

On our way through the Cascades, near Diablo Lake, I thought I saw some Ladies' Tresses along the road, but did not stop because of my passengers.  I came back the same way, however, sans passengers, and then had opportunity to stop and found a whole area full of one these lovely native orchids.

I discovered when I stopped that it was the rather common Hooded Ladies' Tresses, Spiranthes romanzoffiana, though I would have been surprised indeed to find anything else, since the other two native Ladies' Tresses are very rare and not found in that area.

It was interesting to notice while photographing them the amount of variation in plant size, flower color, and even flower form.  The plants were from 8 to 30 cm tall, the flowers white to cream, and on some flower spikes the flowers were rather more open than on others.

One other variation involved the position of the flowers on the flower spikes.  These orchids are called Ladies' Tresses because the flowers are spiraled around the stem, giving it a braided appearance.  These varied from a very tight spiral to none at all.

For those who are interested, these can be found on Highway 20 at the Diablo Lake overlook just up the hill from the Colonial Creek campground and the bridge that crosses the creek as one is traveling east.  There are a few along the road and many more in the "field" by the parking area.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Long-spurred Piperias and Hooded Ladies' Tresses near the Pend Oreille River

July 30 through August 2 I was involved in a youth camp in eastern Washington near the Pend Oreille River.  While at the camp I took my customary morning walk here up an old road that belonged to the camp but lead to a Forest Service road and to Forest Service land.  I was not looking for orchids but was not surprised either to find two of them in bloom.

The first I found was Spiranthes romanzoffiana, the Hooded Ladies' Tresses.  This is its blooming season and it is quite common but I did not expect to find it on a dry rocky hill.  Every other time I've found this species it has been in very wet areas.  I found a number of spikes, but some of them were starting to go by, with the lower flowers turning brown.

The second was growing on the same dry hillside where I would have expected it.  Platanthera elongata, the Long-spurred Piperia, was growing as single spikes of flowers scattered here and there.  It was immediately recognizable from the spurs and from the lovely green and white flowers.  There were many of these usually on the edges of forested areas.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Eight Orchids near Greenwater

We spent Wednesday, July 25, in the Greenwater area of Washington, near Mount Rainier.  We hiked two trails and drove some Forest Service roads looking for native orchids and other wildflowers.  We were not disappointed.  We found eight different orchid species and an additional color form of one of them, though one of the eight orchids was not yet in flower and one was nearly finished and was not photographed.  They were:

Cypripedium fasciculatum, the Brownie or Clustered Lady's Slipper,
shown in another post.

Corallorhiza maculata var maculata, the Spotted Coralroot,
nearly finished and without photos.

Corallorhiza mertensiana, the Western Coralroot.

Goodyera oblongifolia, the Giant Rattlesnake Orchis, not yet in bloom.

Listera banksiana, the Northwestern Twayblade.

Listera cordata var. nephrophylla, the Western Heart-leaved Twayblade.

Listera cordata var. nephrophylla fma. rubescens,
the reddish form of the Western Heart-leaved Twayblade.

Platanthera ephemerantha, the Slender White Piperia.

Platanthera stricta, the Slender Bog Orchis.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Brownie Lady's Slippers near Greenwater

Wednesday, July 26th, was our day out for the week (we try to get out once a week in the summer), and we decided to explore the Greenwater area near Mount Rainier and look there for the Clustered or Brownie Lady's Slipper, a native orchid that we had not seen in bloom yet this year.

We left at 3:00 am and drove down to our destination and then up several Forest Service roads, arriving at our trailhead before 7:00 am.  We took our time, stopping for coffee and for breakfast and for for pictures along the way.  Along the FS roads we saw a number of other orchids but did not stop for them until later.

This was a good day for orchids.  We saw ten different species and a color variety of one of them along with many other wildflowers.  One of the species was not yet in bloom and one nearly finished with only a few flowers still hanging on, but this was the star of the show.

The Clustered or Brownie Lady's Slipper is the smallest and rarest of our native Lady's Slippers and this location is protected.  Usually we find this hidden by other vegetation because it is so small, but here the plants were growing in abundance on an open bank.

The plants we saw were 10-15 cm tall with the usual two opposite oval leaves and with one to three flowers per plant and with the usual range of color from green to a rich mahogany purple.  The plants seemed to be thriving in this location with many new seedlings evident.