Tuesday, July 21, 2015

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


  1. Hi Ron,

    I keep coming back to your site on a daily basis. Really love your site and the beautiful pictures.
    Seeing that Epipactis picture reminded me of a new (at least to me) Epipactis species I found 10 days ago in Austria. However your Epipactis gigantea is so much more showy than Epipactis distans, which is tbh very similar to Epipactis helleborine, but flowers over a month earlier.
    I am a little envious of your Alaska adventure. Too bad you could not go the whole distance. I wonder if there is any way to get there by car. Not sure about the road conditions. I am sure there is a next time for you though.
    I would so love to go to the Pacific Northwest again. Ah well!


    1. Hi Martin,
      The season here has been somewhat of a disappointment - very hot and dry, with everything blooming several weeks early and usually poorly. We saw the Epipactis in the Olympics last week and most were finished or eaten by the deer. Have only one more orchid to see, Spiranthes diluvialis and by mid-august the season's going to be over even at the higher elevations.
      It is possible to get to Alaska by car but it is over 2000 miles from where we live. We had thought about driving but the drive would have taken most of the time we had.

  2. Hi Ron,
    the same is true for our season. It started very promising, but then in late April, earlly May it almost stopped raining. Especially the late orchids like Epipactis suffered considerably.Funny enough deers seem to love Epipactis here too. Sometimes you can see them in real good shape close to raised hides.
    We still have a few Epipactis species to come (Epipactis purpurata for example) and then in late August, early September Spiranthes spiralis. However I do not expect much from those even though we finally had some rain in July. Just a bad year for native orchids here.

    1. We, too, have had very little rain for several months. Even the Piperias which like it hot and dry suffered. Spiranthes romanzoffiana, which likes moist meadows was not to be found at several locations and was sparse in others. We're supposed to go see Spiranthes diluvialis next week with the native orchid group, but I'm afraid it's going to be finished by the time we get there and wondering how the dry weather will have affected it.