Thursday, September 6, 2012

Flat-spurred Piperia and Giant Rattlesnake Orchis in Washington Park

On August 13th I made an excursion first to Washington Park on Fidalgo Island and then to Goose Rock on Whidbey Island.  Both places can be reached by auto and are less than 30 minutes' drive from each other.  On this occasion I went alone since my wife, who usually accompanies me was busy with other things.

I went to Washington Park to see the Flat-Spurred Piperia, Piperia transversa, in bloom.  It is, or was, the best location I knew for this native species (I found many more of them at Goose Rock).  They grow in some abundance along one of the trails on the south side of the park in a dry, mossy area.

They are not large plants, and by the time the flowers are open the leaves are withered, so it is easy to miss them, but up close the flowers are intricate and beautiful.  We found them first because we saw their leaves while looking for Fairy Slippers in the same area earlier in the season.

The name, "Flat-Spurred Piperia," refers not to the shape of the spur, but to its position, which is one of the distinguishing features of the species.  The nearly transparent spur (the picture shows it with the nectar clearly visible), stands at a nearly horizontal position and at a ninety degree angle to the flower stalk.

I also found a quite a few of the Giant Rattlesnake Orchis, Goodyera oblongifolia and took a few pictures of the beautifully patterned leaves.  This species comes in two forms, a plain-leaved form and a form with silver veining, fma. reticulata.  The flowers are the same in both forms.

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