Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Native Orchids of Mount Robson Provincial Park

Mount Robson Provincial Park is one of our favorite places for hiking and backpacking and is conveniently located on the way to Edmonton, the home of one of our daughters.  Two summers, 2009 and 2010, we backpacked in the park for five days and the last two summers, 2011 and 2012, we've hiked there.  We've found it to have more native orchids than any other place we've hiked.

This post shows the different species and varieties we've found in the park, a total of nineteen, but we are fairly sure that there are five or six more that we have not seen.  Most of these we've seen flowering around the end of June and beginning of July at different elevations, but several do not bloom until later in the summer and we've had to make a point of hiking there in August to catch them.

The species and varieties we've found are:

Amerorchis rotundifolia, the Small Round-leaf Orchis

Calypso bulbosa var. americana, the Eastern Fairy Slipper

Corallorhiza maculata var. maculata, the Spotted Coralroot

Corallorhiza trifida, the Early Coralroot

Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens, the Large Yellow Lady's Slipper

Cypripedium passerinum, the Sparrow's-egg Lady's Slipper

Goodyera oblongifolia, the Giant Rattlesnake Orchis

Goodyera repens, the Lesser Rattlesnake Orchis

Listera borealis, the Northern Twayblade

Listera cordata var. cordata, the Heart-leaved Twayblade

Listera cordata var. cordata fma. viridens,
the green form of the Heart-leaved Twayblade

Piperia unalascensis, the Alaskan Piperia

Platanthera aquilonis, the Northern Green Bog Orchis

Platanthera dilatata var. dilatata, the Tall White Northern Bog Orchis

Platanthera dilatata var. albiflora, The Bog Candle

Platanthera huronensis, the Green Bog Orchis

Platanthera obtusata ssp. obtusata, The Blunt-leafed Rein Orchis

Platanthera orbiculata, the Pad-leaved Orchis

Platanthera stricta, the Slender Bog Orchis

There are two others we've seen in nearby areas, Cypripedium montanum and Coeloglossum viride var. virescens, the former to west of the park and the later to the east in Jasper National Park.  These almost certainly bloom within Robson as well.  We intend to look for them the next time we are in the area and have time to do some hiking, since we now know something of their habitats.

Cypripedium montanum, the Mountain Lady's Slipper

Coeloglossum viride var. virescens, the Long-bracted Green Orchis

There are probably a number of others within the confines of the park, though we have not seen them or seen any record of them.  They are fairly common species and are found in surrounding areas.  These are plants we would like to find within the park as well, though with several exceptions, we have seen them elsewhere and they are relatively common.

Corallorhiza mertensiana, the Western Coralroot

Corallorhiza striata var. striata, the Striped Coralroot

Listera convallarioides, the Broad-lipped Twayblade

Malaxis brachypoda, the White Adder's Mouth

Malaxis paludosa, the Bog Adder's Mouth

Spiranthes romanzoffiana, the Hooded Ladies' Tresses


  1. Wow!

    I loved the Cypripedium passerinum!

    1. Thanks for commenting, Luis. It is an amazing place and we'd like to go again and backpack there. Not only the orchids but the other wildflowers and the scenery are incredible.

  2. When we drove through that area (from Vancouver to Jasper), we stopped at Wells Grey. Now I feel, that Mt. Robson might have been a better idea. Even there I was amazed how easy it was to find orchids. The landscape is really breathtaking too.
    Great writeup. Thanks for bringing back memories of one of the nicest roadtrips I ever made!

    On your list I see Malaxis paludosa (in Germany we usually call it Hammarbya paludosa). This is the smalles orchid I have seen yet. Even when it was shown to me, I had a hard time seeing it. The plants where about 5cm. It is very rare in Germany because so many peat bogs were destroyed. Funny that it occurs in Canada. So indeed it may not be all that rare as I thought.

    1. We will probably go again in June of next year. It continues to be one of our favorite places not only for orchids but for hiking and backpacking.

      As to the name change, I sometimes have trouble keeping up with all the changes, and the literature very quickly goes out of date.

  3. What envy! So many beauties in a single place. Here we only have a 1 Cypripedium calceolus the and reduced to a couple of places, 1 Platanthera and 2 Listeras the ovata and the cordata, also 1 Goodyera the repens. They are fantastic species and the photos are magnificent.Congratulations. Hugs

    1. Thanks, my friend, for your comments. You should come and visit us some summer and see our orchids. Your C. calceolus is very similar to our C. parviflorum, and we also have G. repens and L. cordata here.

  4. Pięknie przedstawiony wizerunek matki natury :-)

    1. Thanks you, friend. "Mother nature" did a good job on these.