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.