Saturday, May 4, 2013

Fourth Week of the Native Orchid Season - Fairy Slippers, Striped Coralroots and Spotted Coralroots


April 28-May 4

Friday, May 3rd, I visited five different sites on Whidbey and Fidalgo Islands looking for native orchids.  I visited the Au Sable Institute near Coupeville, two locations in Deception Pass State Park, Hoypus Hill and Goose Rock, Washington Park near Anacortes and a site in Larrabee State Park.  Without identifying specific locations, I found three orchids in bloom, the Western Fairy Slipper, Calypso bulbosa var. occidentalis, the Western Spotted Coralroot, Corallorhiza maculata var. occidentalis, and the Striped Coralroot, Corallorhiza striata.  The Fairy Slippers were near the end of their blooming season, the Striped Coralroots were at their peak and the Spotted Coralroots were just starting to bloom.

I also found at one of these locations a white Fairy Slipper, Calypso bulbosa var. occidentalis fma. nivea, and therein lies both a story and the reason why I am no longer publishing locations.  We had found a white Fairy Slipper last spring in Washington Park and I had published the fact that I had found it there.  Whether that was the impetus or not, I do not know, but someone dug it up, as I discovered when I went back to see it this spring.  Thus, both on Flickr and in my blog posts I am no longer going to give specific locations for the orchids I find and will not reveal those locations except to those whom I trust.  The white form of the Fairy Slipper is rare in nature and for someone to dig it up is a crime.

And a note about the Fairy Slipper photos.  First, as to the white Fairy Slipper, there are faint hints of color that show it to be not quite a pure alba form, but the lack of brown color on the front of the lip and the greenish color at the back of the pouch distinguish it from other pale forms, some of which are also shown below.  Second, I tried to show some of the variation in color, both of flowers and lip.  The flowers themselves vary from near-white to dark pink and the lips or pouches have more or less brown spotting.  Finally, because I've already posted so many pictures of this year's Fairy Slippers I've tried to show some of the detail and to be a bit more creative with my shots.

Western Fairy Slipper
Calypso bulbosa var. occidentalis










White Fairy Slipper
Calypso bulbosa var. occidentalis fma. nivea




Striped Coralroot
Corallorhiza striata








Western Spotted Coralroot
Corallorhiza maculata var. occidentali








12 comments:

  1. I was pondering, as I drove today, that I might have seen our white friend when I visited the park the last time.

    I was struck how pallid this fresh, not yet opened flower looked. I wrote it off, however to it being a fresh bud. I was taking a route I do not usually take and the area jives with what you mentioned to me.

    I need to make use of my GPS and mark interesting things to go back and check.

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    1. Sadly, I didn't have my GPS along, but will take it next time and mark the spot for future reference and to give to friends who can be trusted. I did find in the places I visited, quite a few pale forms that had the brown markings on the lip, many more than I remember seeing before, but it is always hard to tell whether they are truly pale forms or flowers that have been pollinated and are going by.

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  2. Replies
    1. Thanks, Elisabete. They are beautiful, aren't they?

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  3. I agree, they may have been a pale form rather than nivea. This nivea has a pink blush, more than last years.

    I was teasing about Mt Si, Monday mornings find me a work and I am rarely one to sick out. I do feel like I might be developing a cold that might strike the first week in October, if the weather is fine and the larch are out at Esmeralda Basin 8-D

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    1. Nice to know ahead of time when colds are going to strike. You are correct about the nivea that it has a pink blush and the color, too, at the back of the pouch is not as bright green as the previous find. This is not a true alba form, since that would have none of the colored pigments.

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  4. Nice pictures again. Those coralroots are really intrigueing. I like how you show them in context with the surrounding and in detail. I tend to concentrate on the detail. But I try to improve and get more of the context in my pictures too.

    Speaking of GPS: It is always good to use a GPS with the plants that are tougher to refind, however I rarely make use of waypoints I am given, because it kind of spoils the fun of experiencing the biotopes for me. Since I do the field mapping for our section, I am supposed to carry one however.

    Anyways... our season has finally caught up speed. Corallorhiza is not there yet, but Orchis is starting with a mass bloom. Looks like we're going to have a good (tho a very late) year. Today I was looking for our native Orchid of the year (Orchis purpurea) and found lots and lots of plants unlike last year, where we had no inflorescences at all in Hesse.

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Martin. Your comments are always eagerly read and appreciated. I don't use a GPS much because I have a very good memory for where I've found plants before and because I like investigating new areas. Also, the Coralroots are odd in that they never appear in the same place if they reappear at all. You'll usually find them in the same area but always in different numbers and never in quite the same location.

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  5. One more beautiful than the next!! Fabulous shots, too =)

    ~Fizzie~

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    1. Thanks for looking and commenting, Fizzie. That they are so beautiful is the reason we are always looking for them.

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  6. Excellent as always, Ron! I especially like the dark lip on the C. striata. We don't have that one anywhere near our area in the Carolinas. I saw a paler one in California this year, and the yellow form (forma eburnea) in Newfoundland recently. It's now one of my favorite Coralroot orchids.

    Jim Fowler, Greenville, SC

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    1. We found var. vreelandii last summer in the Columbia River gorge. Both varieties of striata are everywhere in that area of the gorge.

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