Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Platanthera aquilonis


 Platanthera aquilonis, the Northern Green Bog Orchis, is another of the hard-to-identify green Platantheras.  Indeed, because the Platantheras seem to interbreed quite freely it is sometimes impossible to identify them with certainly.  The distinguishing characteristics of this species are a yellowish lip, a spur that is shorter than the lip and curved well forward, and anther sacs that are low in the flower and form a kind of triangular shape.  The plant can be quite small to 60 cm tall and has numerous flowers, as many as fifty, more or less crowded on the flower spike.  The leaves are near the ground and up to 20 cm.  We do not see this species as frequently as some of the other green Platantheras and seldom in Washington, but have found it in a number of different locations in the Canadian Rockies in British Columbia and Alberta.

July 8
(Canadian Rockies)






July 10
(Canadian Rockies)



Thursday, September 18, 2014

Platanthera orbiculata


We have eight species of Platanthera in our area (there are a couple more in Alaska).  Many of them are rather unimpressive, but this species is an exception.  There can be no argument that Platanthera orbiculata, the Pad-leaved Orchis is impressive and the most beautiful of all our Platantheras.  Even the plant is impressive, with huge 20-25 cm shiny plate-like leaves lying close to the ground, a flower spike as tall as 75 cm, and intricate 5 cm greenish-white flowers with a long spur.

We never see a lot of this species, usually only scattered plants growing in their favorite habitat, dry open woodlands with a lot of moss and few other competing plants.  It grows in Washington, but we have seen it most often in the Canadian Rockies where we saw it this past summer.  We were hiking a part of the Berg Lake trail and found it in three different locations, blooming just as the Lady's Slippers were finishing their bloom season and earlier than the Lesser Rattlesnake Orchis.

July 10
(Canadian Rockies)









Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Platanthera huronensis


This rather uninspiring species, the Green Bog Orchis, is common especially as one goes further north.  There are areas in the Canadian Rockies where we see this species by the thousands.  It is one of the green-flowered Platantheras that are sometimes difficult to distinguish, but in our experience the distinguishing features are (1) the color of the flowers which are green to greenish-white, (2) the length of spur, about the same length as the lip, (3) the position of the spur, which is usually only slightly curved forward, (4) the scent - some of the other green-flowered Platantheras are not scented, and (5) the position of the anther sacs high in the flower.  As is evident from some of the pictures, we often find it growing with Platanthera dilatata.

July 7
(Canadian Rockies)




 July 9
(Canadian Rockies)