Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Twenty-first Orchid of the Season and Others

We have three Spiranthes species in Washington.  Two are very rare and one of those is on the endangered list, but his species, Spiranthes romanzoffiana, the Hooded Ladies'-tresses, is very common.  This year, however, we have not seen very many of them, due, I am sure, to the hot dry weather we've been experiencing.  The species likes a sunny situation but in wet meadows and seeps and those are all dried up this year.  One location we visited had no plants at all, and the place where these were photographed had far fewer than normal and those were past their prime at least two weeks earlier than normal.  This Spiranthes can be very shot, sometimes less than 6 cm, though it can be much taller.

In the same area of the North Cascades where we photographed the Spiranthes, we also photographed two other orchids that like wet boggy areas, Platanthera dilatata var. leucostachys, the Sierra Rein Orchis, and Plathanthera stricta, the Slender Bog Orchis.  They were growing in an area that was slightly more protected from the sun and also somewhat wetter due to springs and seeps.  The Sierra Rein Orchis differs from two other varieties in having a spur that is longer than the lip.  The Slender Bog Orchis, oine of most common orchids is distinguished by a short spur that is inflated at the end and by a narrow straight-sided lip.  Both of these species can be quite tall, 90-100 cm.

Spiranthes romanzoffiana

Platanthera stricta

Platanthera dilatata var. leucostachys

Twentieth Orchid of the Season and Others

We saw these for the first time this year and for the first time at this location.  We were traveling through Sherman Pass in north-central Washington and found them at a place where we had been told to look by a friend.  With them we found a few Platanthera dilatata var. leucostachys that were near the end of their season.  Epipactis gigantea is the only native species from the genus in North America.  It is known as the Stream Orchid for its love for river and lakeside sites and as the Chatterbox for its moveable lip which "chatters" in the slightest breeze like a little mouth.  The plants we see are usually not taller than 60 cm and carry six to ten 3 cm flowers.

Epipactis gigantea

Platanthera dilatata var. leucostachys

Monday, July 20, 2015

Nineteenth Orchid of the Season

The green-flowered Platantheras are not always easy to identify, but these are classic examples of the Northern Green Bog Orchis, Platanthera aquilonis.  The species is identifiable especially by its short, triangular lip, yellowish in color, and its tubular spur, shorter than the lip and curved forward.  These were photographed along the Richardson Highway to Valdez, Alaska, where they were growing with Platanthera huronensis, the Green Bog Orchis and Cypripedium passerinum, the Sparrow's-egg Lady's Slipper.  The two Platanteras were easily distinguishable even from a distance in that this species was much shorter than the other, only 6-8 inches tall (7-8 cm) and a darker green, while the other was around 18-24 inches (24-30 cm) tall and whitish-green.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Eighteenth Orchid of the Season

Known both as the Sparrow's-egg Lady's Slipper and as Franklin's Lady's Slipper, Cypripedium passerinum is not found in Washington but is common further north.  We found these along the Richardson Highway to Valdez, Alaska.  They were near the end of their blooming season, but we found enough fresh flowers for photographs.  The species can grow to 60 cm tall but these were much shorter, less than 30 cm and growing in the open on the roadside.  There was one plant with two flowers, the flowers faded, but ordinarily the tiny flowers are found just one per flower spike.