Friday, September 20, 2013

The End of Another Season (2013)

The 2013 native orchid season was very unusual in some ways.  It began very early with a warm wet spring and ended very early with a warm dry summer.  It was good orchid-hunting season for us in our own state, however, with one variety, two species and one natural hybrid seen in Washington for the first time, along with several new locations found for the all-white form of the Western Fairy Slipper and with our first look at the unspotted form of the Western Spotted Coralroot.

On a trip to Canada we saw two new species that we had not seen before, as well as a new variety of the Small Round-leaf Orchis, a very common northern species that is not found in Washington.  All of these are very rare and elusive and we are very thankful to a friend, Ben Rostron, for trusting us enough to take us to see them in their closely guarded locations.  This trip was the high point of the orchid season for us and we hope to make the trip again next year.

The two species that we had not seen before in Washington were Cypripedium parviflorum and the elusive and tiny Platanthera chorisiana.  The former is very rare in Washington and the latter rare throughout its range.  We also saw the natural hybrid of Cypripedium parviflorum and Cypripedium montanum, Cypripedium x columbianum.  Though we had seen this hybrid before we were delighted to find it growing in a mixed population that included both parents.

We also saw for the first time in Washington, the Eastern Fairy Slipper, Calypso bulbosa var. americana.  We had seen this species in British Columbia but not in our state.  In the location where we found it we looked for the natural hybrid of the two varieties of Fairy Slippers, Calypso bulbosa x kostiukiae, but could not find it, another task for next season.  The Eastern Fairy Slipper is notable for its yellow beard and unspotted central lip lobe.

The new species seen in Canada were Liparis loeslii, the Fen Orchis and Malaxis brachypoda, the White Adder's Mouth.  Both of these are rather insignificant and would probably pass unnoticed to the casual observer, but we were delighted to see them for their rarity.  We also saw on this trip Amerorchis rotundifolia fma. lineata, the striped-lip form of the common Small Round-leaf Orchis.  This form is in our opinion even more beautiful than the ordinary form.

We had seen the white form of the Western Fairy Slipper, Calypso bulbosa fma. nivea, once before, but we discovered this spring that that plant had been dug up and stolen.  We found several more locations for it, however, and are keeping the location a closely-guarded secret.  We also found a near-white form with only hints of color, what would probably be called a semi-alba form in the orchid world.  That location, too, we are keeping secret or sharing only with those we trust.

Finally, we were taken by another friend to see the yellow, unspotted form of the Western Spotted Coralroot, Corallorhiza maculata var. occidentalis fma. immaculata, a spectacular plant whose location will also remain undisclosed.  These, with new locations for many other species, with visits to many locations that we had visited before, and with all the other natural beauties we see on these excursions, made for a very profitable and interesting season.

One note: we found through a friend that one species reported from the Pacific Northwest, Wister's Coralroot, Corallorhiza wisteriana is not actually found there.  The original location, so we were informed, was in a garden where it had been transplanted from further east.  That leaves only two species from Washington that we have not seen, Listera convallarioides, the Broad-lipped Twayblade, and Spiranthes diluvialis, the Ute Ladies-tresses.


  1. Beautiful species Ron. Next year you will surely find some new. Fabulous photographs. Best regards

    1. Thanks, my friend, and there are a couple we are determined to find next season.

  2. Maravilhosas e fotos perfeitas.

  3. Hello Ron,
    seems like you had a very successful season, finally finding Liparis loeselii and the Malaxis.
    I myself consider my own season to be quite successful too (with my first encounter of a lot of Nigritella species, the Calypso and so much more), even if it was too much driving around. Maybe I should make a post about it. It was a crazy good orchid season in Europe. I am catching up on your blog, since I am sick and at home. Thanks again for the entertaining posts.

    On another note: I might be heading to the pacific northwest next summer. My colleague at work persuaded me to hike parts of the High-Sierra Trail and after that or before that I and my partner might do some roadtripping, seizing the opportunity and drive up north.

    1. Thanks for the comments, Martin. If you are up this way you must let us know your plans ahead of time so that we can make our plans accordingly and show you some of the orchids of the PNW.

    2. The plans are still somewhat vague, but I would like to be there mid to late June-ish. There is still a lot of planning to be done, including how to obtain permits and working out two routes. One for my colleague and partner and one for me and partner. We will work some stuff out this weekend. Of course I would love to be shown around by someone "in the know". This would be an enormous treat. I would probably head north from the Sierra Nevada, doing Northern California and Oregon and Washington, then Alberta and back south through Wyoming. This might be too ambitious, but we will see about that in the next days.
      My colleague however has never been to the US and I would like to send him to the icons of the southwest (Grand Canyon, Arches and such) and maybe meet up with him in Yellowstone again.

    3. We will keep that time frame in mind. It would be a good time, too, since there's a lot in bloom around then.

  4. Replies
    1. Appreciate your interest and comments. Are you on line somewhere?

  5. Hey there!
    I am Στηβ (Steve) from Athens and I blog on (also have a small online local orchid nursery). I am launching the site in English (currently beta just a couple of posts got translated so far). I would like to keep the english version as an international community of bloggers. Here's how it was implemented in Greek so long story short I am trying to invite people like you that have a passion about orchids and an eye for photography. Concept is that it will be as multilingual as possible (the site supports that each article can have as many versions in different languages as the bloggers wish to offer). I think your expertise with in situ photography will greatly find an audience with our local readers and will greatly help the site to gain international readers along educating readers on wild orchids and their conservation. I am not sure how to "sell" this idea to you, I mean I am not sure if there is anything for you to gain since you already have a great blog... I can only think that sharing our passion for orchids in a community like blog is a great idea and as a collective effort would sure find a greater audience.

    With your help MyOrchid could bloom! Thank you for your consideration.
    Best Regards,