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. Piperia 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.