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REFERENCE GUIDE TO THE NATIVE ORCHIDS OF ARIZONA

 

by

 

Wilella Stimmell

 

(reprinted from the Arizona Orchidist Newsletter - May 1989)

My original intent in writing about our native (all terrestrial) orchids was not nearly as scholarly as the title suggests. In February, when the temperature began to inch toward 90 degrees, I figured that at that rate, by summer the desert would be intolerable. The words "high country" flashed through my mind. A visit to the Grand Canyon in July or August would provide relief from the heat, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who has "done the Canyon" to death. There would have to be a purpose for yet another trip. A field trip to hunt our native orchids was the perfect reason. My search for information about the orchids and for an experienced guide was like a treasure hunt. It led me in many directions: to the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum, the Desert Botanical Garden, the Arizona Native Plant Society, the ASU Herbarium, Arizona Highways Magazine, free-lance writer Catrien Ross Laetz, and finally to Tim Reeves, a teacher at Navajo Community College. Tim and his wife, Linda, have photographed all of the orchid species and will publish a book on them. He reports that some of the species have not been seen or photographed for 50 years! Publication date of the book is not known because at this point, the text has not been written. Tim also reported that he has led field trips in the 1970's with the OSA. And for our veteran members, you may remember that Linda (Mankel) Reeves is a past president of the OSA (1978 and 1979). Tim is amenable to serving in future as a guide for an OSA field trip, but this summer he will be doing graduate work out of state. Meanwhile, for brave souls who wish to wander alone to the high country, the following guide may prove helpful.

 

The largest and showiest of the genera are the Cypripedium and the Calypso.

 
GENUS SPECIES LOCATION BLOOM TIME
1. Cypripedium

(Lady's Slipper)

calceolus v.

pubescens

White Mountains in moist soil, probably in shade

 

June-July
2. Habenaria

(Bog orchid)

 

limosa mountains of Cochise and Pima counties, 7000-8000 feet, moist woods and cool, springy places

 

June-Sept.

 

saccata

 

Lukachukai Mountains (Apache County), White Mountains (Apache or Greenlee), Pinaleno Mts. (Graham County) 8500-9500 feet

 

July-Sept.
hyperborea Lukachukai & White Mts., 7500-9500 feet in moist woods

 

July-August
sparsiflora Apache, Navajo, Coconino, & Graham counties

 

June-Oct.

 

(H. sparsiflora var. laxiflora, a small-flowered variant, occurs on the Navajo Indian Reservation and in the Grand Canyon - 4500-7500 feet)

 
3. Epipactis

(Helleborine)

gigantea Navajo, Coconino, & northeastern Mojave counties to Cochise & Pima, 3000-8000 feet in moist soil

 

April-July
4. Spiranthes

(Lady's Tresses)

 

parasitica Santa Catalina Mts., Pima county,8000-8500 feet

 

June-July
romanzoffiana Kaibab Plateau & North Rim of Grand Canyon, White Mts., 8500-9500 feet, in bogs & wet meadows

 

August-Sept.
michuacana Huachuca, Cochise, Santa Catalina Mts., 7000 feet rocky canyons & slopes

 

Sept-Oct.
5. Listera

(Tway-blade)

convallarioides

 

Santa Catalina Mts., 8000 feet

 

July-Sept.
6. Goodyera

(Rattlesnake-plantain)

repens White Mts., 9500-10,000 feet

 

July-Sept.
oblongifolio Lukachukai & White Mts., Kaibab Plateau, Elden Mt. & Bill Williams Mt. (Coconino county), Pinaleno Mts., 8000-9500 feet

 

July-Sept.
7. Corallorhiza

(Coral-root)

striata Pinaleno Mts., Pinal Mts. & Sierra Ancha (Gila county), Chiricahua Mts. (Cochise county), Santa Catalina Mts., 7000-9000 feet, in deep shade of pine & spruce forests

 

July
maculata Lukachukai & White Mts., North Rim of Grand Canyon & San Francisco Peaks, South to the Pinalena Mts. & Santa Catalina Mts., 6000-10,000 feet in coniferous forests

 

June-July
wisteriana North Rim of Grand Canyon & San Francisco Peaks, Sierra Ancha & Pinal Mts. (Gila county), Santa Catalina Mts., 6000-8000 feet

 

May
8. Malaxis

(Adders-mouth)

corymbosa Chiricahua & Huachuca Mts., Santa Catalina Mts. 6500-7500 feet

 

August
soulei White Mts., Mogollon Escarpment (Coconino county), Pinaleno Mts., & common in mts. of Cochise, Santa Cruz, & Pima counties, 6000-9500 feet, pine woods

 

July-Sept.
tenuis Santa Catalina Mts., 7000 feet

 

August
ehrenbergii Huachuca & Santa Catalina Mts., 7500 feet, moist, mossy places

 

August
9. Calypso

(Fairy Slipper)

bulbosa North Rim of Grand Canyon & San Francisco Peaks, White Mts., 8500-10,000 feet, spruce & fir forests

 

June-August
10. Hexalectris

(Crested Coral-root)

warnockii Chiricahua National Monument, Cochise county

 

 

June-July

 

 spicata Santa Rita Mts., Santa Cruz or Pima county, rich soil in woods & among rocks

 

June-July

 

grandiflora Southern Arizona

 

June-July

 

Source: ARIZONA FLORA, by Kearney and Peebles, pages 197-203

For pictures of four of the species, see Arizona Highways, August, 1986, pages 23-29. The article, "Orchids of the Sky Island", by Catrien Ross Laetz, includes photographs of: Spiranthes romanzoffiana, Habenaria sparsiflora, Goodyera oblongifolia, and Malaxis soulei. This issue is in our OSA library.

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