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Common Herb Species of the Northwest Forest

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SHRUBS

GRAMINOIDS

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Terminology | Pictorial

   
Platanthera obtusata
Blunt-leaved Orchid
Orchidaceae (Orchid Family)

Blunt-leaved Orchid Description

General - a perennial from fleshy roots; stems grow up to 30 cm tall (usually 10 - 20 cm), leafless; sheathing bracts rare.

Leaves - solitary (rarely 2) at stem base, 4 - 12 cm long, egg- to lance-shaped, broadest above middle; blunt-tipped, tapers to base

Flowers - 3 to 12 in loose, slender cluster at stem tip; greenish white to yellowish green; upper sepal broad, rounded; other sepals and petals lance-shaped; lip narrow, 5 - 8 mm long; spur slender, tapering, same length or shorter than lip.; appearing in early-summer.

Fruit - erect, many-seeded, ellipsoid, up to 1 cm long capsules; ripening late-summer.

Habitat

Bogs, fens, swamps and moist to wet woods; widespread across boreal forest north to tundra; more or less circumpolar.

Notes

Blunt-leaved bog-orchid flowers throughout its June to September growing season. It is the smallest native bog-orchid and mosquitoes are its most important pollinators. It is not unusual to see a mosquito flying by with club-shaped pollen clusters stuck to its head like tiny yellow horns. Blunt-leaved bog-orchids store their nectar in a slender spur that projects down from the base of the flower. To reach the nectar, a mosquito must enter through the mouth of the flower. This triggers the pollinia, which spring forwards and cement themselves to the mosquito's head by their sticky bases. When the mosquito visits its next flower, its head brush past the stigma, and the pollen is successfully transferred to that flower. To see this pollination mechanism in action, simply poke a small twig under the hood of a flower and watch the pollinia spring down and cement themselves to the twig


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