July 11, 2013

Orchids in my garden

orchid2

I found an unfamiliar plant in my garden.

Being of the "don't pull it until it flowers so you can identify it" mindset, I waited. It didn't look pretty at first. It reminded me of a Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum biflorumplant with shaggy grass growing out of the top.

But then, when it flowered, I realized it was an Orchid! I was pleased, until I found out it's a non-native invasive plant. I honestly didn't know that any of the Orchids growing in my state are invasive. Darn!

More than 200 species of Orchids are native to North America, but this isn't one of them. The Orchid I found in my garden is Epipactis helleborine, sometimes called Bastard Hellebore or Broadleaf Helleborine.

orchidbranch

This photo shows the scale of the plant. The individual flowers grow along a tall stem--about one to two feet tall.

orchidleaf

The foliage displays at the bottom of the plant, below the stem.

After I found out it's invasive in my state, I dug it out--deeply, making sure to get all the roots. It's sad, though, because in its native Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, it would be a welcomed beauty!

orchid1

*Update: For more information about this invasive Orchid, here are two helpful articles on how to identify it and deal with it:
http://nyti.ms/12JkDiQ and http://bit.ly/10SVzIB.

32 comments:

  1. Huh!? An invasive orchid? Who would have thunk it?

    I wonder just how awful an invasive it is? Sometimes I think we're too quick to condemn invasives. I mean, does it insinuate itself into the ecosystem in a way that increases diversity or does it push out other plants to create a monoculture?

    Monoculture bullies deserve to be thinned out and dispatched, IMHO. But maybe the play-nice(r) invasives deserve a reprieve?

    Or is that naive?

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    1. I know, right? I agree with all your points, except that apparently this one is particularly problematic in my state. It's taking over portions of native habitat in The Ridges Sanctuary in Door County. I'm OK with having some non-natives in my garden, but sadly, the truly invasives--no matter how beautiful they are--can be problematic. I'm getting the impression from some reading that this one can be a monoculture bully (here, anyway) if given a chance to establish. :(

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  2. Lovely! I would love to have one, but it would have to be in a very shady place at home, now in full summer!

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    1. Hey Lula: This Orchid would be right at home in your garden, wouldn't it? Yes, apparently it prefers deep shade--which explains why it likes my garden! I wish I could keep it here!

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  3. What a shame! And it's such a pretty little guy. Well, not that little, but still. To look at it you wouldn't think it would be the type of plant to take over an area.

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    1. I know. It's sad. And strange. Apparently this Orchid has been common in Milwaukee and up to Green Bay and Door County for some time, but last year was the first time I saw it in my garden. I had no idea it was invasive until I did a little more research this year. Dang.

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  4. Yep, this orchid such a shame, delicate, attractive, and the first one I saw was along the WI shore of Lake Michigan. Once you find out what it really is capable of you know what to do, but you're still conflicted. BTW, good photos.

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    1. Wow, you wrote about this back in 2008! Yes, conflicted is the right word. Wild to think that the conditions have to be just right for an Orchid and this one thrives to excess here! I found a couple more of these later today and pulled them out, too, but I did pause. Thank you.

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  5. We call invasive species weeds over here, some plants just spread all over the place and it is hard to eradicate them, I think you did a good for your garden and the environment.

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    1. Thanks. Yes, I know. I think I did the right thing, but gosh it's a beautiful Orchid. :(

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  6. That's much prettier then anything weed like that I have growing in my garden. What a shame...

    Jen

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    1. Yes, it's among the prettiest "weeds" I've ever seen. Actually, it's kind of ugly or scruffy until it blooms, and then it's so pretty. And the fact that it's an Orchid -- so sad that I can't let it live here. :(

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  7. Actually I don't think it's that pretty. I love the delicate little wild native orchids we have here. That one reminds me of the large cultivated orchids that are sold in florists and that people grow in pots. But of course it's a fascinating topic, the whole topic of introduced weeds, what is a weed, etc.

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    1. I suppose beauty with plants and flowers is a subjective thing. And maybe I should have used a different background to give you a better view of the delicate pastel pink/purple of the petals. It isn't attractive before it flowers, in my opinion. But the blooms are actually very delicate--smaller than the width of my pinky finger. The weed/introduced invasive issue is a tough one.

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  8. It is very pretty. Does it spread by seed or runners? Sorry it had to hit the compost pile.

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    1. Apparently, it spreads through its fibrous roots and rhizomes. The more I read about this plant, the more I realize what a problem it can be here. I hope it doesn't gain a foothold in my garden. :(

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  9. Very interesting . . . an Orchid in Wisconsin! How did that ever happen, I wonder . . . Right you were to try to remove it . . . puzzling though!

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    1. Actually, Wisconsin has about 50 native species of Orchids. Here's an article that talks about some of them: http://bit.ly/18TZ4nh.

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  10. It is hard to pull those pretty flowers and weeds that are invasive but knowing what they can do gives us strength.

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    1. True, Donna! I found a couple more, so I hope this isn't the beginning of a challenge...

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  11. I too let the weeds go to bloom if I am unsure what they will become. I love the mystery. One is growing now that is over two feet and no one could ID it. So I am waiting for it to flower. Good you got your ID and removed it before it became a problem next year.

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    1. Ah, let us know what your plant is. That is a fun part about being a gardener, and a garden blogger. And yes, I don't want to have to deal with any more invasive plants!

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  12. Sad. It's beautiful. I think of orchids as being tropical so I never imagined they would grow wild let alone become invasive in Wisconsin!!!

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    1. We have quite a few native Orchids here, but this one doesn't belong. It's unfortunate, because it's really pretty.

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  13. How tragic! It is SO lovely......and felt like such a gift. It's so hard to be responsible!

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    1. I know...I agree on all your points. But I guess I don't want to have to deal an invasive plant taking over my garden. "Tragic" is a good word for it!

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  14. Poor Bastard Hellebore! So lovely. I too have never heard of an invasive orchid, though I did know that there are more orchid species than just about any other type of plant on earth. I only know of one in my own garden, Crane-fly Orchid, which fortunately is native here.

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    1. Yep. ;-) Cranefly Orchid ... I will have to research that one. We have several species of Lady Slipper Orchids here, along with several others. It's so fun to find them in the wild.

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  15. Bastard Hellebore!! What a name, doesn’t even look like a hellebore, I’d love to have some native orchids in my garden, native to Britain that is, but not any uninvited guests that isn’t even native to the area, I can understand you got rid of it. But I do think it looks lovely :-)

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    1. I know--poor plant! But it sounds like it doesn't need my pity, since it volunteers all over the place! Uninvited guests--especially invasive ones--are frustrating, aren't they?

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  16. I wish orchids were invasive in my garden. I've been travelling all over the county trying to find the Bee orchid this year! :)

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    1. Good luck! Sometimes you find things when you stop looking ... and when you least expect it!

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