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.