Monday, June 21, 2010


There’s something about orchid leaves that makes them stand out from all the other vegetation. I saw these from a long way off and hurried over to see what species I had found. Disappointment set in when I discovered that the stalk was without flowers. This wasn’t one of the common Blue Jay Barrens orchids and I couldn’t easily put a name to it.

When I first saw it, I thought it was a Showy Orchis, Orchis spectabilis, but closer examination showed the leaves and stem to not fit that identification. Those little pointy bracts along the flower stalk indicate where the flowers should be. My second thought, really more of a hope, was the Large Round-leaved Orchis, Habenaria orbiculata, but the bracts seemed too small for that species. I’m pretty sure it’s a Large Twayblade, Liparis liliifolia, a lovely flower. Maybe next year will be a better year for this plant.

It’s a nice, robust plant that is not being crowded by its neighbors. I thought the plant might have flowered and already dropped the unfertilized blooms, but that would have been a fairly recent event and signs of the spent blossoms should still be present. Here’s yet another thing to add to my list to check on next year.

The orchid is growing in a small cluster of trees in the middle of a nearly level ridge top. The soil is well drained and probably has the deepest depth to bedrock of any upland soil at Blue Jay Barrens. I’m letting this small area develop into woods to see what kind of woodland flora will develop here. This is the most likely site on the property to develop into what could be described as rich woodland.

The nearly level nature of this site allows the leaves to accumulate and decompose in place. There’s already a good layer of humus developing beneath the leaf litter. In another 50 years, this may be the perfect place to enjoy an early spring walk through the wildflowers.


  1. I know exactly what you mean about the orchid leaves! They aren't in bloom here, yet, but they are so obvious! ~karen

  2. Karen - The first plant of this species that I found was also just leaves when I first saw it. It took three years before I was able to catch it in bloom and identify it. Hopefully, I'll see this one blooming next year.

  3. Same here - found the leaves with empty stems and thought at first it was showy orchids. I think mine are also twayblade and hope to catch them blooming in spring to make a positive i.d.. Just found your blog today and love it. Many of your plants and images look like they could be right around where I live in the Ozarks.

  4. Hi, Madison. You're right, my property does contain many plants common to the Ozark region. I hope your orchid blooms for you next year.