Monday, September 28, 2015

Thirty-second and Last Orchid of the Season and Others

We had not expected to find any more native orchids, at least not any new species, when we were out hiking August 7th.  We did, however, find the thirty-second orchid of the season and a new species for us in Washington.  Though we had seen this species a number of times previously, when I checked my records I discovered that this was the first time we saw it in the state.  The orchid is the best of our Platantheras, Platanthera orbiculata, the Pad-leaved Orchis, known both for its large, shiny plate-like leaves which are held close to the ground and for its intricate greenish-white flowers.  The plant can be up to 75 cm tall, but these were smaller, nearer 30 cm.  They were almost finished flowering, but were unmistakable and were growing where one would expect to see them, in an open woodland.  Because the flowers were not that fresh I've included a couple of other pictures from another location.

Along with the Platanthera we found quite a number of Goodyera oblongifolia, the Giant Rattlesnake Orchis, still blooming. These in fact were everywhere, and though they are so common that we usually do not even bother to photograph them, it was nice to see them when hardly anything else, orchids or wildflowers, was blooming.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Thirty-first Orchid of the Season

It is amazing that by August 1st the native orchid season was already over this year.  Usually the season extends well into August and there are orchids to be found even into September, but not this year - it was too hot and too dry.  August 1st was the last field trip for the Washington Native Orchid Society and a small group of us visited several sites in eastern Washington near the Columbia River to see the endangered Ute Ladies'-tresses, Spiranthes diluvialis.  Like so many other species they were very few in number this year and were totally absent at one site.  We did find enough for photographs, however, though even those plants  were past their prime.  Spiranthes diluvialis is a natural hybrid of Spiranthes magnicamporum, the Great Plains Ladies'-tresses, which does not even grow in Washington, and Spiranthes romanzoffiana, the Hooded Ladies'-tresses.  It is taller than the Hooded Ladies'-tresses, up to 60 cm, though many of the plants we saw were much shorter.  The 1 cm flowers have a fringed appearance that immediately distinguishes them from our other two Spiranthes.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Thirtieth Orchid of the Season

The Broad-leaved Helleborine, Epipactis helleborine, is not a native but a European transplant that is well established here.  We saw it, though not yet blooming, in Olympic National Park, and these photos were taken shortly after in the Chuckanut Mountains south of Bellingham.  There is considerable color variation in the flowers and these show some of that variation, ranging from deep purple to green.  There were fewer plants than usual and most of them were also shorter than usual.  On some plants the flowers had never opened but simply dried up, due I'm sure to the lack of rain and the excessive heat of the past few months.  We've seen plants as tall as 90 cm but the tallest of these plants were only 60 cm.  The individual flowers were 1-3 cm across.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Twenty-ninth Orchid of the Season and Others

Chamisso's Orchid, Platanthera chorisiana, is one of our smallest native orchids and very hard to find.  In our area these grow in a boggy area among the sedges and at the edge of the bushes and shrubs.  Both plant and flowers are the same green as the grasses and sedges, too.  When I went to visit them they were finished blooming and so I've also included an older photo of the species.  They were 15 cm tall or less and the tiny flowers are less than 1 cm and do not open widely.  It grows at high elevations or northern latitudes.

Platanthera chorisiana

Growing in the same area were the Sierra Rein Orchis, Platanthera dilatata var. lecostachys, the Slender Bog Orchis, Platanthera stricta, and the Hooded Ladies'-tresses, Spiranthes romanzoffiana.  All of these were nearing the end of their blooming season as well, especially Platanthera stricta.  All of these plants like wet areas and sedge mat where they were found is always wet, but even there they were earlier than normal, due to an early spring, little snowfall in the mountains, and a hot dry summer.

Platanthera dilatata var. leucostachys

Platanthera stricta

Platanthera dilatata var. leucostachys and Platanthera stricta

Spiranthes romanzoffiana