Orchidaceae (Orchid Family)
Represented here by two genera of perennial herbs. Flowers are irregular, in six segments. The outer series (sepals) may resemble petals, and the two lateral petals may be similar to the sepals. They may join with the upper sepal in forming a hood. The lower petal, known as the lip, is enlarged and leads to a basal nectary or into a spur. Stamens may be fused with the style and stigma to form a column. The ovary is inferior and the fruit a capsule.
Epipactis giganteaDouglas. Desert Orchid, Stream Orchid. (Plate 6.131) A stout perennial with leafy stems 1–3 ft (0.3–1 m) high from creeping rhizomes. Lower leaves are ovate, up to 5 in (12 cm) long and 2 in (5 cm) wide, gradually reduced up the stem to shorter, narrower forms, all parallel-veined. Three to nine flowers are well spaced on the upper portion of the stem, usually on one side. The
three sepals are triangular, spreading outward, about 1/2 in (13 mm) long. Two petals resemble the sepals but are smaller and thinner. The long lower lip, unequally three-lobed, is the center of attraction. Flower: Sepals greenish with brownish veins, side petals more brownish purple, and the lip mostly yellowish with purple lines. Colors are rich but subdued.
Distribution. Locally limited but widespread regionally, wet places; Desert Scrub, 4,000–6,000 ft (1,220–1,829 m).
Platanthera sparsiflora(Watson) Schlechter. Green Canyon Orchid.(Habenaria sparsiflora) (Plate 6.132) Leafy stems 12–24 in (3–6 dm) tall. Leaves are lanceolate, the lower ones sheathing the stem, up to 4 in (10 cm) long and 3/4 in (2 cm) broad, gradually reduced upward. The inflorescence is a narrow spike, each flower subtended by a narrow bract. The two lower sepals are spreading. The upper one curves forward together with the curving upper petals, forming a hood over the column. The lip is linear, about 1/4 in (6 mm) long, extending downward. Its slightly curved spur is about the same length. The entire flower is about 1/2 in (13 mm) long. Flower: Greenish.
Distribution. Common, riparian areas; Desert Scrub to Subalpine Zone, 5,500–10,000 ft (1,677–3,049 m).