Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Spiranthes diluvialis

Spiranthes diluvialis, the Ute Ladies'-tresses, was the last of the native orchids we saw this season and we saw it for the first time ever in the Columbia River basin.  It is a natural hybrid of Spiranthes romanzoffiana, the Hooded Ladies'-tresses, and Spiranthes magnicamporum, the Great Plans Ladies'-tresses, a species that does not grow in the Pacific Northwest.  It is very rare and listed as Federally threatened, due especially to habitat destruction.  We had looked for it previous years but with better information we found it this season and found it growing in the kind of location it prefers, along a river and in an area that is often inundated well into the summer months.  It is a beautiful species with white to near-white flowers, plants that are 30 cm tall, and flowers that are tubular and 1.5 cm long.  The flowers like most of the Spiranthes are "braided" around the stem, adding to the beauty of the species.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Goodyera oblongifolia

Goodyera oblongifolia, the Giant Rattlesnake Orchis, is one of only two species in that genus to be found in the Pacific Northwest, and the other species, Goodyera repens, the Lesser Rattlesnake Orchis, is not found in Washington or Oregon.  The common name would suggest that the Giant Rattlesnake Orchis is a large plant, but it is not: the rosette of leaves is only 22 cm in diameter at most and is often smaller, and the flowers, though they come on a flower spike as long as 45 cm, are quite small and insignificant.  The species is very common and it is rare that we do not see it when hiking.  It has two forms, a plain-leaved form and a form with beautifully reticulated leaves, the flowers of both forms being identical.

April 14
(Fidalgo Island - both leaf forms)

May 31
(Blewett Pass)

June 23
(Columbia River Gorge)

July 25
(Whidbey Island)

August 13
(Olympic National Park)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Epipactis helleborine

This is our only "native" orchid that isn't a native.  It is a European import that has been spreading across the northern United States and southern Canada since the late 1800's.  Here in Washington it is found especially in the western and especially the coastal areas of the state.  It is also variable in size and color, the plants ranging from 30-90 cm and flowers from a plain green to a deep pink or purple.  There are even yellow and albino forms of the species to be found but we have not seen them, though we've looked.

I visited a number of locations this summer to see and photograph the species and found plenty of them, but in some locations, especially the first, they were suffering from a very dry summer and the plants were deformed, the flowers very crowded, and many of the flowers dried up and withered.  In that first set of pictures the last photo is of the green-flowered form, fma. viridis.

July 31
(Seattle Area)

August 6
(Larrabee State park)

August 8
(Larrabee State Park)