Monday, May 2, 2016

Three Native Orchids in Mount Rainier National Park

We were out for several hours at Mount Rainier National Park on Saturday, March 30, with the Washington Native Orchid Society.  We did not have time for sightseeing but visited a number of locations looking for native orchids.  We found three, two that we had seen already this season and one that we had not yet seen and that is rather rare in the state.

The Early Coralroot, Corallorhiza trifida, was the latest addition to this season's sightings.  We found around a dozen stems in an area where we had found this species before.  Growing with them we found a few Western Fairy Slippers, Calypso bulbosa var., occidentalis, as well as a few of the reddish form of the Heart-leaved Twayblade, Listera cordata var. nephrophylla.

At another site and a higher elevation we found hundreds of Fairy Slippers and quite a few more Heart-leaved Twayblades, this time mostly the all-green form.  The green form is Listera cordata var. nephrophylla, and the reddish form is forma rubescens.  We looked for white Fairy Slippers in the area but did not find any, though we had seen them there before.

The Early Coralroot is the smallest of the Coralroots in our area, usually less than 30 cm tall with 1 cm flowers.  This species ranges across the northern USA and Canada and is found in Europe and Asia as well.  The North American Twayblades have all been reclassified as Neottias, so what we saw is more correctly, Neottia cordata var. nephrophylla.

Early Coralroot
Corallorhiza trifida

 Heart-leaved Twayblade, green form
Listera cordata var. nephrophylla

 Heart-leaved Twayblade, reddish form
Listera cordata var. nephrophylla fma. rubescens

Western Fairy Slipper
Calypso bulbosa var. occidentalis


  1. Beautiful photos! You had some gorgeous light out there! What a nice mix of species too. I love the tiny delicate wonders of your forests.

    Seems like here we have great weather on weekdays and snow (yes, really)/rain on weekends. At least the flowering season is in full swing here now.

    1. Thanks for looking and commenting, Martin. Appreciate your kind comments. Very warm here. Set a temperature record Monday and April had record high temps as well.