Sunday, June 2, 2013

Eighth Week of the Native Orchid Season - Three Lady's Slippers and Three Coralroots

May 26-June1

Three excursions this week, one of them more of a detour that was part of a trip to Seatac Airport on Wednesday the 29th.  I left early in the morning that day and visited three places in the area of Leavenworth and Blewett Pass to see and photograph the Mountain Lady's Slippers, Cypripedium montanum.  At all three places I found them well started.  Interestingly it was only the darker forms that were blooming, though two of the locations had plants with buds that look to have little of the mahogany color, probably fma. praetertincum.  Those were at least a week from blooming and perhaps more.  That makes me wonder if these different color forms are actually different varieties or if there is some hybrid influence.

The first place I visited had only a couple stems and the flowers were a very dark color, but difficult to photograph because the light was poor and there was a good breeze blowing.  The second place was actually a series of three or four spots in the same location.  Many of the plants at one spot were lighter in color and more greenish and there were a lot of green-flowered plants there as well not yet in bloom.  At another spot they were much darker in color and were growing under conifers.  At this spot they were also the form with the rich red-purple color around the rim of the pouch, fma. welchii.  At the third place the flowers were also a very dark color and had the color-rimmed pouch.

first place

second place, first spot

second place, second spot
fma. welchii

third place
fma. welchii

Later in the week we made a brief excursion to Deception Pass and the bridge that connects Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands.  We went there to take a grandson on the boat tour of Deception Pass but climbed Goose Rock as well and I had opportunity to photograph the Western Spotted Coralroots there, Corallorhiza maculata var. occidentalis.  I had photographed them in the Leavenwoth area as well.  At this time of the year they seem to be everywhere and we see them almost every time we are out, sometimes a few, sometimes large clumps of them.  I noticed, too, at Goose Rock that the later blooming other variety of this species, var. maculata, is up and will be blooming before long.

from the Leavenworth area

I had seen Coralroots also on Monday when son Edward and I went hiking in the Chuckanut Mountains.  He was off school because of the Memorial Day holiday and we went up the Fragrance Lake trail, a trail my wife and I had hiked some weeks earlier.  We found both the Striped and Spotted Coralroots blooming, Corallorhiza striata and maculata.  In fact we found both varieties of the Spotted Coralroot, the ordinary variety which blooms later, Coralorhiza maculata var. maculata and the earlier blooming Western Spotted Coralroot, Corallorhiza maculata var. occidentalis.  The ordinary variety is distinguished by a later bloom time, flowers that are more cupped and a lip with parallel in stead of rounded edges.

Corallorhiza striata var. striata

 Carallorhiza maculata var. maculata

Corallorhiza maculata var. occidentalis fma. intermedia
brown-stemmed form

Saturday was an outing with the Washington Native Orchid Society.  We went to an undisclosed location to see one of the few places in the state of Washington where the Yellow Lady's Slipper, Cypripedium parviflorum can be found.  The others went on the next day to see a second location but I had to get home.  This species is considered endangered in the state and for that reason we were made to promise that we would not reveal any information as to the location.  We have seen this species in British Columbia but it was wonderful to see it here in our own state as well.  For several reason I believe what we saw was the Northern Small Yellow Lady's Slipper, Cypripedium parviflorum var. makasin.

Cypripedium parviflorum var. makasin (?)

What we found, however, was much more exciting, not only because this was var. makasin but also because there were over a hundred plants in the area we were shown.  Even more exciting, however, was the fact that this was clearly a mixed population of plants that resembled pure Cypripedium parviflorum, plants that resembled the other species shown above, Cypripedium montanum, and plants that were clearly intermediate between the two species, the natural hybrid, Cypripedium x columbianum.  As is evident from the pictures, the pouches especially varied in shape and color between the two species.

Cypripedium montanum (?)

Cypripedium montanum (?) and Cypripedium x columbianum

To clarify, Cypripedium montanum always has a white pouch while Cypripedium parviflorum always has a yellow pouch.  Here the pouches ranged from white to off-white to pale yellow to deep yellow.  It is doubtful, therefore, that any of the plants in this population were pure Cypripedium montanum or parviflorum and likely that they were all hybrids though some more clearly than others, in other words, all Cypripedium x columbianum.


  1. I was so disappointed to miss this trip. Last minute work changed the plan. Your pictures help ease the pain. That one of the hybrid grouping, such abundance.

    I did get up to see some western coralroots and look for the Ozette at my one location ( no luck) The westerns are holding on but some are quite passed. I note that those that have robust sunlight also had a fairly noticeable robustness. I have to wonder how the temperature of the sunbeams aid in growth and circulations.

    On montanums ( 2nd place with 3 or 4 spots) I though it interesting that some where in full, bold sunshine in the a.m.

    1. The area we were in is remarkable. We're going back this week as part of a trip to Spokane and hope to visit another location as well looking for the Cyp. parviflorums.

      As to the Western Coralroots it is interesting that those in Washington Park are all so very dark in color while those at Hoypus are all lighter forms though varied in color.

      The Cyp. montanums in full sun are very unusual. I have never seen these except in and under trees in what is often very deep shade. with only occasional sunshine.

  2. Ron
    Obrigada por compartilhar tamanha beleza, nas plantas e nas fotos.
    abraços e um lindo lindo

    1. Thanks, as always, for your kind comments, my friend. It is always good to hear from you and I trust you and your orchids are doing well.

  3. Piękne okazy. Ciekawa relacja

    1. Thanks for commenting, my friend. Your interest is much appreciated.

  4. Maravillosas plantas y hermosas fotografías. Saludos

    1. Thanks for taking the time to look and comment, my friend. They are indeed wonderful plants.

  5. You have some wonderful orchid species out there. Maybe it would be a good spot to host a future NOC symposium... ?

    Jim Fowler, Greenville, SC

    1. I wouldn't mind helping with something, Jim. I would have to talk to some of the others in the area, though, to see if they were interested and to see if it was possible. There's a lot of traveling involved in seeing some of these orchids.