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.

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