Thursday, July 30, 2009

A good year for field botanists

Dave Anderson, Joe Stevens, and Jessica Parker recorded the first known occurrence of the giant hellborine orchid (Epipactis gigantea) from southeast Colorado, in Las Animas County. This is the first record of this species anywhere on the plains of Colorado - the next nearest occurrence is in Chaffee County, well over 100 miles away! This tall perennial orchid grows from creeping rhizomes, and requires a constant source of water at its roots. The tall stems with reddish flowers in the leaf axils make this species one of Colorado's most distinctive orchids.

Epipactis giganteaEpipactis gigantea in southeastern Colorado

While CNHP staff were documenting the orchid in southeastern Colorado, our friend and fellow botany enthusiast Annette Miller was re-discovering a small population of the plant in the opposite corner of the state, while on a raft trip through Dinosaur National Monument. Sue Ellen Campbell took this photo of the Moffat county occurrence:

Epipactis giganteaEpipactis gigantea in northwestern Colorado
(photo by Sue Ellen Campbell)

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