Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Native Orchid Tour of Washington

One of the highlights of the summer was an opportunity to show off some of our native orchids.  Friends from Germany were planning an extended trip to the USA and wanted an orchid tour of Washington as part of their trip, so all last winter we were making arrangements, they for the whole of their trip and I for the small part of their trip that involved me.  We agreed that we would spend three days together and I would show them as many of the native orchids as were in bloom.  In the end that amounted to 17 different species and varieties, almost half of our native orchids.

I met them in the Columbia River Gorge where we began by hiking at Dog Mountain.
There we saw:

1.  Piperia transversa (Flat-spurred Piperia)
just beginning to bloom and a species we would see again at Deception Pass

2.  Cephalanthera austiniae (Phantom Orchid)
this was one they particularly wanted to see

3.  Goodyera oblongifolia (Giant Rattlesnake Orchis)
not yet in bloom

4.  Corallorhiza striata var. vreelandii (Vreeland's Striped Coralroot)
a few plants at the end of their bloom season

5.  Corallorhiza maculata var. maculata fma. aurea (Spotted Coralroot)
the rare yellow-stemmed form of this species

6.  Corallorhiza maculata var. maculata fma. rubra (Spotted Coralroot)
the more common red-stemmed form of the species

From Dog Mountain we traveled to Catherine Creek, also in the Columbia gorge.
We went there to see:

7.  Spiranthes porrifolia (Western Ladies'-tresses)
very rare in Washington and at the peak of its bloom season

Leaving the gorge we traveled to Brooks Memorial State Park near Goldendale,
and saw:

8.  Piperia unalascensis (Alaskan Piperia)
we were looking for the Mountain Lady's Slipper but found this instead

Traveling further north we visited two sites in Blewett Pass, south of Leavenworth.
We camped a night there and also found:

9.  Cypripedium montanum (Mountain Lady's Slipper)
hundreds of these

10.  Platanthera dilatata var. dilatata (Tall White Northern Bog Orchis)
just starting to bloom

From eastern Washington we moved closer to home and visited Deception Pass on Whidbey Island,
where we found:

11.  Piperia elegans (Elegant Piperia)
already in bloom, though usually quite a bit later

At another site on Whidbey Island we found another species,
this time:

12.  Corallorhiza maculata var. ozettensis (Ozette Coralroot)
this was only just hanging on but an abundance of Indian Pipes made up for their scarceness

The third and last day of our trip we visited Goat Mountain in the North Cascades.
There we found:

13.  Corallorhiza mertensiana (Western Coralroot)
in bloom so late only at these higher altitudes

14.  Listera cordata var. nephrophylla (Western Heart-leaved Twayblade)
not a lot of them but enough to make a fair show

15.  Corallorhiza maculata var. occidentalis fma. intermedia (Western Spotted Coralroot)
only a couple of plants of this early-blooming variety

16.  Corallorhiza trifida (Early Coralroot)
this one familiar to our friends since it also grows in Europe

17.  Listera banksiana (Northwestern Twayblade)
after searching hard I finally found a couple of plants in bloom

We very much enjoy orchid hunting but it is even more exciting to be able to show someone else.
Martin has a blog of his own at which you can see some of the native orchids
of Germany and Europe, and some of these orchids as well.


  1. What variety of beautiful orchids! Great post Ron!

    1. Thanks once again, Angel. That was a fun trip! Really nice to be able to show others our native orchids.

  2. This trip was truely the highlight of the US vacation. You really made us have a good time.
    Not only did you show us such a huge variety of native orchids (and other plants - especially the indian pipe will be remembered for a long time), but also quite scenic landscapes.
    Washington sure is one of the most beautiful places in the US.
    However... it will take me another two weeks or so, to get an article up.

    If you ever make it to Germany, we will show you, what we have to offer. :-)

    Thanks for your hospitality, the good food and for taking the time!

    1. Nice to hear from you again, Martin, and I am looking forward to seeing your pictures from the trip. I certainly enjoyed it and hope there is the opportunity to something similar sometime in the future, either in Germany or over here.


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