Saturday, November 20, 2010

White Adder's-mouth (Malaxis brachypoda)

This tiny species is not found in Washington, but is found from Alaska to Newfoundland and in various areas, east and west in the USA.  It's small size may be the reason why it is considered rare in our area.

The plant can be 25 cm tall but is usually much smaller with a single shiny leaf at the base of the plant.  The flowers are greenish-white and are only a few millimeters in size, though numerous (up to 80 per spike).

The two plants we found were 6-8 cm tall and were near a marl pond and in the shade of several trees.  Having found the one plant we did not even notice the second until we got down to take photos.

The species is sometimes considered to be a variety of the Eurasian species, Malaxis monophyllos, but Paul Martin Brown and others make a good case for maintaining it as a separate North American species.

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