Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Platanthera elongata

Platanthera (Piperia) elongata tooks very much like Platanthera (Piperia) transversa, except that it is usually a taller plant, up to 60 cm tall, with flowers that are usually a darker green color and have a spur that curves downward under the flower.  The shape of the spur and the color of the flower are diagnostic.  Like the other Platanthera/Piperias it prefers exposed and dry locations and is often found growing near Platanthera transversa, Platanthera elegans and Platanthera ephemerantha.  It is faintly fragrant at night its leaves are usually withered by the time its flowers open.  It should be noted that recent name changes have put the Piperias back into the genus Platanthera.

July 24
(Olympic National Park)

July 25
(Whidbey Island)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Platanthera x estesii

Platanthera xestesii, Estes hybrid Rein Orchis, as the "x" indicates, is a natural hybrid of Platanthera dilatata, the Bog Candle, and Platanthera stricta, the Slender Bog Orchis.  It very closely resembles Platanthera huronensis, the Green Bog Orchis, and is difficult to distinguish from that species.  It may, in fact, be part of intergrading complex that includes all the above species.  In my experience, having seen plants that have been identified as the natural hybrid, the differences between it and the Green Bog Orchis are (1) a shorter spur (shorter than the lip rather than equal in length to the lip), (2) a thinner spur which is more like that of the Bog Candle, and (3) the shape of the lip, which instead of looking like the head of lance, looks more like that of the Bog Candle.  In any case, these plants do not fit exactly the description of the Green Bog Orchis and I've lumped them under this natural hybrid.

July 7
(Canadian Rockies)

Growing with Platanthera dilatata

July 17
(Canadian Rockies)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Platanthera unalascensis fma. olympica

Platnthera unalascensis is a common and widespread species that grows down the west coast and into the southwest, across the northern United States and southern Canada, but there is a dwarf form of the species that grows only on Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park, Platanthera unalascensis var. olympica.  Ordinarily the species grows as tall as 90 cm but the dwarf form to 15 cm.  The flowers of both forms are unremarkable and very small, less than 0.5 cm.  It can also be found under the names Piperia or Spiranthes or Habenaria unalascensis or Platanthera foetida.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Platanthera dilatata var. leucostachys

Platanthera dilatata var. leucostachys, the Sierra Rein Orchis, is distinguished from the other two varieties of this species by its very long spur, noticeably longer than its lip.  It is much rarer in our area than var. dilatata, which has a spur equal in length to the lip and also blooms somewhat later than that species.  We've found it still in bloom when var. dilatata is finished in locations where both grow.  Otherwise it is indistinguishable from either of the other varieties.  Plant height varies from 30 to 90 cm and the flowers are 2 cm or slightly less and very fragrant.

July 24
(Olympic Mountains)

July 31
(North Cascades)

August 2
(North Cascades)