Saturday, May 31, 2014

Corallorhiza maculata var. occidentalis (two unnamed color forms)

We did some orchid hunting and hiking recently in eastern Washington and in two different areas had opportunity to see a lot of the Spotted Coralroot, Corallorhiza maculata var. maculata, and its variety, the Western Spotted Coralroot, Corallorhiza maculata var. occidentalis.  These two are well defined varieties in that where they grow in the same location they have different blooming seasons, the Western Spotted Coralroot, the subject of this post, blooming several weeks earlier than the other variety.  The difficulty is that at higher elevations and as the season progresses they seem to bloom concurrently and then it is very difficult to tell them apart.  Flower form does differ somewhat in that the Spotted Coralroot has a straight-sided lip while the Western Spotted has a rounded mid-lobe, but flower form is variable even on a single plant and this alone is not sufficient to distinguish the two varieties, in my opinion.  I am including the plants shown below, photographed later in the season, under var. occidentalis on account of their flower form.

May 31

I am including them in a separate post because of the unusual color forms that they represent, forms that are as distinctive as any of the named forms (note especially that they are unspotted).  Finding all these colors forms leads me to the conclusion that color variation in the species is endless and trying to name different color forms a rather useless endeavor.  The last form shown is especially interesting because it is very like the third named variety of Corallorhiza maculata, the Ozette Coralroot, Corallorhiza maculata var ozettensis.  This variety was original "discovered" on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington and was supposed to be endemic to that area.  Plants very similar to this have since been discovered on Whidbey Island, Washington, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, near Caribou, in central British Columbia and in California.  It is interesting that in the location on Whidbey Island these so-called "Ozette Coralroots" have an even later bloom time than the other two varieties, and yet elsewhere plants that look like them are found blooming concurrently with those varieties.

May 31

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Corallorhiza maculata var. ozettensis

This is the variety of the Spotted Coralroot which looks like another species.  It is the Ozette Coralroot, Corallorhiza maculata var. ozettensis, discovered fairly recently on the Olympic Peninsula and since found on Whidbey Island, Washington, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, and mainland British Columbia.  Though a variety of the Spotted Coralroot it is completely unspotted and the last to bloom of the three varieties found in our area.  When I took the photos below, the Western Spotted Coralroots were nearly finished blooming, the Spotted Coralroots were at the peak of their bloom season, and these were just starting to bloom, all three growing in the same area.  The variety is named after the Ozette Indians in whose area the variety was first found.

May 27

June 24
(nearly finished)

Corallorhiza maculata var. maculata

The Spotted Coralroot has three varieties in our area, both often found growing in the same area, one of which is so different that it does not even look like this species.  That variety is Corallorhiza maculata var. ozettensis, the Ozette Coralroot.  The ordinary variety, Corallorhiza maculata var. maculata, is the subject of this post.  The other variety, the Western Spotted Coralroot, Corallorhiza maculata var. occidentalis, was featured in an earlier post.  The flowers are slightly different in the two varieties, those of the Western Spotted Coralroot tending to be larger, more open and more brownish in color.  That variety also has flowers with a rounded lip, while the Spotted Coralroot, featured in this post, has a lip with more or less straight sides.  On the basis of that feature alone it is somewhat difficult to distinguish the two varieties since lip shape varies considerably even among the flowers on the same plant.  The main distinguishing feature, therefore, is bloom time.  Where the two varieties grow in the same location the Western Spotted Coralroot blooms several weeks before the other variety, this variety, the ordinary Spotted Coralroot, blooming just as the Western is finishing.  When I photographed the first group of Spotted Coralroots this spring in several different locations, the Western Spotted Coralroots had only a few good flowers left and most had started producing seedpods.  A comparison of the two posts will show these differences.

May 24

June 23