Saturday, June 4, 2016

Three Orchids along the Thunder Creek Trail

Saturday, May 21, was a hike at Thunder Creek with the Washington Native Orchid Society.  We went to see the Western Fairy Slippers, Calypso bulbosa var. occidentalis, but they were all finished.  We found two Twayblades, the Northwestern Twayblade, Neottia banksiana, also known as Neottia caurina, and the Heart-leaved Twayblade, Neottia cordata var. cordata, but it was nearly finished blooming.  The star of the show was the Western or Merten's Coralroot, Corallorhiza mertensiana, which we saw in a variety of colors including some very pale forms.  Actually we saw a fourth orchid as well, the Western Spotted Coralroot, Corallorhiza maculata var. occidentalis, but we were near the end of the hike and the battery in my camera was dead, so I did not get pictures.

Northwestern Twayblade
Neottia banksiana (caurina)

Heart-leaved Twayblade
Neottia cordata var. cordata

Western Coralroot
Corallorhiza mertensiana

Western Coralroot (pale form)
Corallorhiza mertensiana fma. pallida

Columbia Hybrid Lady's Slippers in Eastern Washington

On May 20 I was out orchid hunting in eastern Washington.  After visiting two locations I visited a third location and found a mixed population of flowers some of which looked like the Mountain Lady's Slipper, Cypripedium montanum, other like the Northern Small Yellow Lady's Slipper, Cypripedium parviflorum var. makasin, and some that were obviously natural hybrids of the two, the Columbia Hybrid Lady's Slipper, Cypripedium x columbianum.  These all grow together and may all be hybrids.  The difference in the color of the pouches is the obvious clue.  The Yellow Lady's Slipper is named for its deep yellow pouch and the Mountain Lady's Slipper has a white pouch, but many flowers in this population have pouches that vary from pale yellow to cream.  Something in this population, probably the Yellow Lady's Slipper was very fragrant, too.

Small Northern Yellow Lady's Slipper look-alikes
Cypripedium parviflorum var. makasin

Mountain Lady's Slipper look alikes
Cypripedium montanum

Columbia Hybrid Lady's Slipper
Cypripedium x columbianum