Sunday, July 26, 2009

Name that Orchid!

Any ideas regarding the identity of this hardy orchid which I found blooming in a great swath at the base of a driveway in the Blackridge subdivision in Pittsburgh last week? I've noticed the plants in this yard every summer while visiting our family, but prior visits have never coincided with the bloom period. I even went so far as to ring the doorbell (a great step for a shy person), since the garden in general was really interesting and well-kept, but there was no answer.
My best guess, based on research, is Epipactis palustris, a European species. I've grown E. gigantea, but it has fewer, larger flowers spaced farther apart on the stem, and is also more of a reddish-brown tone. I'm assuming it isn't a species native to the area, since I didn't see it growing anywhere else except in this yard.
Anyone want to weigh in with an identification?

6 comments:

Janet said...

Hi Jeff, given where you find this plant my educated guess would be that it is a Epipactis palustris 'Pittsburghii'. Sorry - couldn't resist! :-D

Phillip said...

I have no clue but it is very nice! :)

Jeff said...

Good to hear from both of you! Thanks to a response on the Gardenweb forum, I think we have a winner, and I was close. It's Epipactis helleborine, I think; that's another European native, and I've never seen it for sale, so maybe these folks smuggled it in. Anyway, I think we'll keep the 'Pittsburghii' epithet, Janet!

Kentaki said...

This is probably Epipactis helleborine. I have E. paulstris, and it does not look like this. I think there are some nurseries that may be selling or used to. If I remember correctly, Thimble Farm may have them. I just checked now, and yes, they do.

If I remember correctly, this was brought to the U.S. by the pioneers for medicinal purposes.

BTW, I am the guy who responded to your Bletilla post. Would you like to swap some materials? I have in vitro seedlings of Bletilla yunnanensis, B. Coritani OP (open pollinated), Pleionilla (Pleione x Bletilla), etc.

Kentaki said...

This is probably Epipactis helleborine. I have E. paulstris, and it does not look like this. I think there are some nurseries that may be selling or used to. If I remember correctly, Thimble Farm may have them. I just checked now, and yes, they do.

If I remember correctly, this was brought to the U.S. by the pioneers for medicinal purposes.

BTW, I am the guy who responded to your Bletilla post. Would you like to swap some materials? I have in vitro seedlings of Bletilla yunnanensis, B. Coritani OP (open pollinated), Pleionilla (Pleione x Bletilla), etc.

Peter Paul said...

Hi Jeff,
It looks like a very compressed, dense form of the Epipactis that struggles to survive the landscapers' weeding in a deep-shade tree area near my office. I identified those as E. helleborine as well. The ones you pictured appear to be in a sunny position, which would explain their compact shape compared to the gangly ones in my office's shade.
This species has very deep roots, and apparently self-seeds well in places; it has been indicated to be distributed while dormant in the rootballs of shrubs and trees.