Epipactis gigantea

diana chapman rarebulbs@earthlink.net
Thu, 17 Jul 2003 08:42:28 PDT
Hi Mary Sue

Epipactis gigantea is one of those rarities in the orchid world - it is so
easy to grow anyone can do it!  As Mary Sue says, it grows by rhizomes which
will spread about to form a nice clump of plants.  I grow it in large pots,
where it tries to spread, ending up growing mostly around the edges and
through the drainage holes.  It is fine in a pot if it is repotted every
year, but really does better in the ground.  Epipactis is usually found
growing in wet areas at the edges of creeks, or in seeps.  In California,
though, these areas dry out considerably by the end of summer, although I
wouldn't say it can take total drying.  I forgot one of my pots one summer
here, where temperatures are very cool, and I lost almost the entire
contents.  In the ground I have seen it growing in areas that look very dry
in summer, but probably have enough residual moisture to keep it going.
Unlike most California natives, it comes into growth in spring, blooms in
summer, and is dormant by the end of summer.

The flower color is certainly problematic to describe!  Bob's photographs,
are, as usualy, outstanding and very representative of the true color.  I
have the selection "Serpentine Night" that originated with Roger Raiche.  It
has deep red leaves that change to green after flowering.  The contrast
between the leaf color and the flower is very beautiful.  With the backing
of a red leaf, however, the flower looks more yellow!


----- Original Message -----
From: "Mary Sue Ittner" <msittner@mcn.org>
To: "Pacific Bulb Society" <pbs@lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Thursday, July 17, 2003 7:15 AM
Subject: [pbs] Epipactis gigantea

> Dear All,
> Our wildflower season is winding down now although we are still enjoying
> the starry flowers of the Chlorogalum on those hot days we walk in the
> evening. A couple of weeks ago however we saw this orchid on one of our
> hikes growing close to the Gualala River. It is probably covered by water
> during the winter months when the River runs high, but now is growing in
> the gravel. A lot of our local orchids really need a hand lens to
> appreciate as the flowers are quite small, but this one has larger
> This species has rhizomes and this particular plant is expanding each
> My field guide says that it is found on the margins of lakes, streams, and
> springs in the Pacific states. I saw a picture of this species in a slide
> shown by Roger Raiche at a California Horticultural Society meeting as it
> grows on his property, the Cedars, which has serpentine soil and can be
> very hot in summer (and VERY wet in winter.)I thought it was very pretty
> the time but thought it would need to be quite wet to grow well, but now I
> wonder how dry it would be in summer. Epipactis gigantea is listed in the
> Telos Catalog and maybe Diana will tell us how she grows it. I haven't
> a Wiki page yet for it, but here are pictures Bob took:
> http://pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/files/…
> And for size:
> http://pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/files/…
> You may remember that we were discussing how to arrange field guides. My
> friend who arranges by color and is rewriting her book was along so we
> began to discuss where she was going to put this plant. She uses white,
> yellow, red, pink, blue, green, and brown as the choices. She was going to
> put it in pink, but had changed her mind to yellow. Most of us voted brown
> as from a distance that is what you notice, but my husband thought green.
> Another said mauve would be good, but my friends just groaned and said
> there wasn't going to be a mauve. I looked it up in Peterson (Pacific
> States Wildflowers) which also arranges by color and it is described as
> having yellow-green flowers, but is on a page that is the transition from
> orange to pink (because of the lip which they describe as orange.) I know
> the colors on everyone's computers will be a little different so don't
> what you all will think. This certainly illustrates how a few plants are
> challenging to classify by color.
> Mary Sue
> Mary Sue Ittner
> California's North Coast
> Wet mild winters with occasional frost
> Dry mild summers
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