Friday, July 12, 2013

Twelfth Week of the Native Orchid Season (2) - Liparis, Malaxis, Amerorchis, Listera, Platanthera and Cypripedium

June 23-29

What a week this was!  Not only did we see a lot of familiar orchid species on our way up to Edmonton (see part 1 of this post), but I managed to get out with Ben Rostron while we were in Edmonton to two natural areas and saw two new species as well as a rare variety of one I had seen many times before.  The day with Ben, the subject of this post, was one of the best orchid hunting days I've had in a long time.

The first place we visited was a fen where Liparis loeselii, the Fen Orchis, had recently been found, its first record for Alberta.  It is supposed to be native to Washington but I know of no locations in the state and had not seen it before.  It also grows in northern Europe and is quite small, the plants 5-20cm and the flowers around 1cm.  We found it growing with the Purple Pitcher Plant and other bog plants.

The second place was a natural area that had as many native orchids as we wanted to see, Platanthera huronensis, the Green Bog Orchis, thousands of the Large Yellow Lady's Slipper, Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens, the Sparrow's-egg Lady's Slipper, Cypripedium passerinum, and the Western Heart-leaved Twayblade, Listera cordata var. nephrophylla.

Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens

Cypripedium passerinum

Listera cordata var. nephrophylla

Another orchid we saw there is very common in British Columbia and Alberta, and we saw many of the Small Round-leaf Orchis, Amerorchis rotundifolia, with its tiny bird-like flowers.  What was very exciting, though, was finding (with directions from a friend) two plants of the rare lined-lip form, Amerorchis rotundifolia fma. lineata.  We looked for the all-white form also but did not find it.

Amerorchis rotundifolia fma. lineata

The real star of the day, however, was the tiny and rare (in the northwest) White Adder's-mouth, Malaxis brachypoda, or as it is sometimes known, Malaxis monophyllos var. brachypoda.  This species, too, is not found in Washington.  We found two plants in flower, one 12cm tall and the other only 5cm with tiny flowers that are 3mm in size, very distinctive with its single shiny leaf.

(1) I did not take pictures of the Platanthera huronensis at either of the sites we visited having taken so many pictures of that species on the way to Edmonton.  These pictures can be seen in part 1 of this post.
(2) And, Ben, if you see this, thanks again for taking me around.


  1. Oy... double feature. :-)

    This one is even more special.
    I am happy, that you finally found your Liparis loeselii. I suspect it is easier to find in Europe. Great photos. I know they can be a pain to take pictures of from firsthand experience. Though I had really bad weather, when I saw them in Texel. Again: good find and great pictures.

    Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens reminds me somewhat of our Cypripedium calceolus. However the petals are swirled quite a bit more and the rear part of the flower is more yellowish with your species. Do they also smell as good as ours? Ours have a distinct lemonish smell.

    As to the Malaxis: I have seen it a few times and taken pictures of Malaxis monophyllos in Bavaria, which is indeed very similar to this one. Also it is quite tough to take pictures of. You managed much better than I did back then.

    Thanks for your posts and for entertaining me. :-)

    1. Hi Martin, and thanks for commenting.

      Liparis loselii is really at the extreme of its range in the Pacific Northwest, and much more common in the eastern USA. The photography was indeed a challenge since we were in water up to our ankles in the few where they were photographed. The tripod doesn't stay steady and one can't get down because of the water.

      The Cyp. parviflorum used to be Cyp. calceolus here, but I think the renaming was a good thing. The two varieties are differently scented. Var. pubescens has a very faint fragrance of roses and var. makasin has a very strong and sweet fragrance, but not of lemons. The scent is one of the ways to distinguish the two.

      The Malaxis is considered by some to be M. monophyllos var. brachypoda, but those who hold for it as a separate species argue on the basis of color, whiteish-green rather than yellowish-green, resupinate rather than non-resupinate flowers, and a differently shaped lip.

    2. Liparis loeselii is far from common in Germany, but I know a few spots in southern Germany and a good one in Holland. All of the spots are a few hundred kilometres away... so no pictures for me soon.

      I even think the flower of the lady slippers can be distinguished. They are very uniform in Germany. The only variation seems to be the color of the sepals (from dark brown to complete yellow/green). Having said this: I feel like they are less twirled than your species. At least, that is what I can tell from the pictures. Would need to see them in nature to be sure if it really is like that.

      As for Malaxis: if I am very lucky I might still see them in Bavaria next week. If so, I will take pictures for a comparison, if I find them and if you want.

    3. I would love to see some pictures of Malaxis monophylos for comparison. Hope you do find them. They are incredibly tiny and hard to find. We found one plant and only when we got down on the ground to take photos did we notice that there was another plant right next to it.

      The two varieties of Cyp. parviflorum are generally distinguished by the size of the flowers. Var. makasin has incredibly small flowers. I'm always surprised to see how small they are. They can be 10 cm or less including the petals.

    4. Sorry for taking such a long time. Work has kept me very busy.
      Alas I did not find Malaxis monophyllos this year, despite looking at a known spot for quite some time, where I found them last year. But I have "so-so"-pictures from back then and the year before from a different place. All of them were shot in southern Bavaria.

      As you can see it is very similar indeed.

    5. Very similar indeed. I would certainly think it the same species, but I am not an expert. Thanks for the links, Martin.

  2. Beautiful photographs. Wonderful, thanks for sharing them. Best regards

    1. Thanks for looking and commenting, my friend.

  3. Nice blog. The yellow Lady's Slipper grow in my region of Eastern Canada. Beautiful photographs.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Thelma, and for your kind comments.