Orchids of Ontario

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Broad-leaved Helleborine: Epipactis helleborine

Latin: Epipactis helleborine
English: Broad-leaved Helleborine
Bloom: Mid-July to late October

This orchid grows everywhere: gravely roadsides, sides paths in woods, sandy shores, thick coniferous forests and even gardens as here. As in Europe it is often found under beech trees but also under pines.

The plants are 15 to 65 cm tall with a long, tapering flower head. Before the buds open this head is arched over, making the plant easy to identify.

Photographed in a garden in Orillia, Ontario
July 20, 2010

This is an unusually thick flower head. The flowers range from pale greenish-white to pink with mauve or rosy streaks.

Photographed in a garden in Orillia, Onntario
July 20, 2010

The Broad-leaved Helleborine in not indigenous to North America. It was introduced from Europe over 150 years ago and has spread right across the continent.

Photographed in Killarney Provincial Park, Ontario
July 19, 2011

A closeup of Helleborine flowers which look a bit like tiny lady's slippers.

Photographed in Killarney Provincial Park, Ontario
July 19, 2011

I have also seen these orchids in the Langman Sanctuary, Orillia, near High Falls, Bracebridge, and in Algonquin Park. I first saw and photographed this orchid in Germany.

Photographed along the Uhthof/TransCanadaTrail northwest of Orillia, Ontario
July 23, 2016


Menzies' Rattlesnake Plantain: Goodyera oblongifolia

Latin: Goodyera oblongifolia
English: Menzies' Rattlesnake Plantain
Bloom: Mid--July to mid-October

The plant looks rather like plantain, hence the name. The markings on the leaves of some members of the family resemble snakeskin.

Photographed near Tobermory, Ontario
June 5, 2011

These orchids grow in shady wet or dry cedar, pine or mixed forests. It is often in colonies. Not all plants in the colony flower every year. The plant in the foreground has a seed head from the previous year. The plants are about 10 to 25 cm tall.

Photographed near Tobermory
June 5, 2011


Nodding Ladies' Tresses: Spiranthes cernua

Latin: Spiranthes cernua
English: Nodding Ladies' Tresses
Bloom: Early August to mid-October

This orchid grows in light, sandy, slightly acidic soil on lakeshores, wet meadows, ditches, even gardens. This plant was growing between rocks on the shore of Georgian Bay. In 2014 the water levels were high and the site was under water.

Photographed in Killarney, Ontario
August 23, 2006


Hooded Ladies' Tresses: Spiranthes romanzoffiana

Hooded Ladies Tresses plant

Latin: Spiranthes romanzoffiana
English: Hooded Ladies' Tresses
Bloom: Mid-July to early September

This orchid grows in northern and cool temperate fens and calcareous wetlands throughout Ontario. Plants range from 7 to 25 cm tall. There was a loose group of 8 plants, none over 10 cm tall. The leaves are very narrow, like grass.

Photographed in Torrence Barrens, Ontario
July 27, 2015

Hooded Ladies Tresses flower head

Three ranks of flowers spiral around the stem. The flowers are white to cream.

Photographed in Torrence Barrens, Ontario
July 27, 2015

Hooded Ladies Tresses flowers


The petals and sepals form a hood over the lip which curves down from the hood.

Photographed in Torrence Barrens, Ontario
July 27, 2015


Slender Ladies' Tresses: Spiranthes lacera


Latin: Spiranthes lacera
English: Slender Ladies' Tresses
Bloom: Mid-July to mid-October

This is the smallest and thinnest of the ladies' tresses. There are 2 to 5 basal leaves which fade during flowering. The oval leaf behind the flower head might belong to another slender ladies' tresses. The leaf belonging to the flower was not visible.

Photographed in Torrence Barrens, Ontario
July 31, 2016

This plant was only about 10 cm tall, probably because of the drought this summer. The flowers are 3 to 4 mm long. Lacera means torn; the ragged edge of the lip looks torn.

Photographed in Torrence Barrens, Ontario
July 31, 2016



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November 5, 2016
©copyright Vicki Sherwood

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