Saturday, July 19

The Weedy Orchid

All spring, I have been pulling a weed out of my shady perennial bed that looks a little bit like Soloman's Seal... but not quite. I knew it was a weed because I didn't plant it there, and there was nothing in that area but grass and the usual lawn weeds before I made it into a garden bed. Today, I found one of these weeds that had escaped me and made it to the bloom stage. Imagine my surprise when I examined the flower stalk a bit more closely and saw this:

They look an awful lot like little orchids, don't they? The above is a pretty accurate representation of the flower color, but check out how small the individual flowers are as compared to my thumb in the darker picture below:

Needless to say, I was intrigued. I came inside to do some Google searching, starting with "native orchid" (yes, I'm an optimist!) and then "small white flowered orchid"... finally, when I typed in "orchid weed" on the third try, I made a plant match. This is indeed a weedy, non-native orchid, epipactis helleborine, which has been naturalized here in the U.S. since the late 1800s.

It is now sitting in a vase, safely inside my kitchen, but I'm sure that its creeping rhizomes are still hanging out in my garden... waiting to send up another set of shoots next spring. I'm not about to let it continue to "naturalize" in my garden, but I couldn't resist showing it here. As much trouble as some orchids are to grow, it just kind of makes me smile to know that there are a few types that "grow like a weed" as well!


Karen said...

That's so cool. I wouldn't have pegged that as an orchid. But then again, I don't know much about orchids. It's a good thing you do. And it's a good thing you are persistent enough to try three searches on Google until you find what you're looking for.

MrBrownThumb said...

Nice find. I sometimes let the weeds grow just to see what the flower will look like.

That's a neat one.

Unknown said...

Karen, I guess that sometimes my stubbornness pays off! *grin* Actually, if that last "orchid" search hadn't worked, I would have started googling "Ohio weeds" and all manner of other things. But thanks to the "image" search options I usually find what I'm looking for... eventually.

Mr Brownthumb, you are much braver than I am! I am usually too scared of allowing something like Giant Hogweed to grow inadvertantly. lol.

Robin Ripley said...

Isn't it interesting to learn about the weeds and bugs in our gardens? I am trying to learn more of their names so that I know my enemies.

I haven't seen any of those orchid weeds here. But like you, I doubt I would let them just run wild.

Gardening Examiner

Carol Michel said...

I might be tempted to let a few of these orchids grow in my garden. "Might", depending on what else was there.

They are kind of pretty!

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

SMC said...

I especially like the dirty thumbnail. It looks just like mine!

Sometimes weeds do have beautiful flowers, but I think they do it as a ruse to lull you into a false sense of security until their roots have taken over the universe. My mother once transplanted a multiflora rose by her pool. I needed dynamite to get it out about 8 years later because it was going through the pool lining.

EAL said...

Fascinating. I am intrigued by "helleborine." It certainly has that look, like a mini-hellebore flower.

Anonymous said...

What a hardy little thing. It really does look like a hellebore. I love little surprises like this -- great sleuthing.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Who'd a thunk it, an Orchid that's a weed! Interesting story behind a plant that I wouldn't yanked without a second thought.

Anonymous said...

You even get good weeds in your garden! I just get boring ones like pink clover and asiatic dayflowers.

Unknown said...

Bumblebee Robin, that's a good way of putting it... I'm just trying to know my enemies! :)

Carol, they are kind of pretty, but there's plenty in that garden already! And based on how many I've already pulled, I'm guessing I will get a few more chances to see these flowers in bloom.

SMC, I have officially given up the idea that my fingernails might be clean in the summer. Ever. lol. Yikes on the multiflora rose... I see some of those in the parklands that I pass through on the way to work, and based on where they are growing they really must be tough customers.

EAL, the coloring does look "helleborine," that's for sure. But the foliage does look more like a solomon's seal or something similar.

Diana in Alberta, thanks! This one didn't take me long, fortunately.

Mr. McGregor's Daugther, trust me... I've yanked out many of these already this year with nary a second thought! *grin*

Heather, I have PLENTY of the other kinds of weeds... mostly yellow-flowering clover, crabgrass and purslane. OH how I despise my purslane... *sigh*

Frances, said...

Hi Kim, I was smitten by your orchid until the thumbnail photo, mine has that greenish tinge from using it as a knife to harvest produce. that put the plant into perspective. But I think being an orchid grower that I would have to allow a spot for those little guys to flourish. On your jungle post, your grasses are fantastic. the little blue stem is so blue. We have the wild one here, but it is hardly blue at all. I let it flower sometimes because I like that rust color it gets in the fall, very invasive though. Love the flue tile too, but always wondered what to plant in them. Your choice was perfect.

Anonymous said...

Nice 'native plant'! It does have a very pretty flower. Intricate too! Your manicure looks better than mine! Kris at Blithewold calls that a 'trench manicure' which is the sign of a true gardener(no offense intended here just commiseration from a fellow gardener).

Lisa at Greenbow said...

This orchid native or non is pretty. I, like you, wish these non native natives weren't so aggressive. Wouldn't you love to get a real native orchid going? I would.

There is a book named 'Orchids of Indiana' that I sit and drool over. I have never seen most of them in the wild let alone grow any.

Muum said...

That is a good ending ! I thought it might be a verbascum when I first saw the pic. Sometimes things I 'let grow because they might not be a weed' turn out to be real problems for me later. :(
live and learn. thanks for visiting my blog.

Cosmo said...

What a great find--I'm going to see if they grow here, too--I'm always looking for pretty weeds to replace the ugly ones. Did you find it in the shade?

Unknown said...

Frances, the flowers really ARE tiny. I didn't even look at them until I noticed the unusual coloring and held them closer to my face to try to determine whether they were white or green or pink! :)

This is 'The Blues' little bluestem, which has great coloring now but isn't quite as pretty in the fall as, say, 'Blaze' can be. It turns a duller rust color, more like a dusky pink, somehow.

As for the flue tile, this is by far the best year for them in terms of pretty plantings. The first two years, my experiments didn't turn out.

Layanee, I LOVE "trench manicure," as that's so true! I'm going to use that from now on. lol.

Greenbow Lisa, I've seen listings of those native orchids, too, but have yet to find any myself, either... I would SO love to make that happen!

Muum, I can see the verbascum comparison because of the upright stalk-y shape. But if it had been a verbascum, I would have been more upset that I pulled it out--I love those. :)

Cosmo, I did find it in the shade--this one was under a large-leaf hosta, and that's why it took me so long to find it.

Unknown said...

Looks great to me! I love the size of it--it looks like it belongs in a dollhouse garden.

And whatever did gardeners do before Google?

Entangled said...

That looks darned attractive, but I clicked through one of the links from the USDA page and that page commands us to Eradicate! I guess you're doing the right thing by pulling it up, but still.....

Kerri said...

Your little orchid is a fascinating find. Neat little flowers. The 'images' feature on Google is a great tool, isn't it? I'm currently watching a weed to see what the flower looks like, but it's 5 ft tall now, so I'm afraid it must go (shades of giant hogweed..but I know it's not that)!
The lupine seeds are dry enough to gather now :)

Annie in Austin said...

Oh, Kim - isn't it wonderful to be able to satisfy your intellectual curiosity armed with Google on the desktop and your favorite weeding tool at the ready?

Your links led off in many directions. It was interesting (especially in light of Carol's recent botanical Latin posts) to see that while Epipactis helleborine/Broadleaf helleborine is on the kill-on-sight list for Wisconsin, its cousin Epipactis gigantea Douglas ex Hook/Giant helleborine, is on the endangered list for Arizona. What a difference that second name makes!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Kylee Baumle said...

I'm so glad to see that dirty fingernail! My fingernails look like that right now and I haven't even been in the garden yet today. LOL. Before I gardened, I would have been horrified. Not now!

LOVE the weedy orchid. I too like to look closely at things like that. I think that has an absolutely gorgeous bloom. I would try to take a super macro photo of that. It's sure to be a fabulous image! Love the colors of it as well as the intricate form.

Unknown said...

Claire Splan, that's a good call. I could see it in a dollhouse garden! It would be kind of like their version of a hollyhock, somehow. :)

And I admit it, I would be totally lost without being able to use Google Images for IDs. lol.

Entangled, I know. I did entertain the idea of letting the next few I find grow... until I found the USDA PLANTS page and a few other warnings about it.

Kerri, it IS really fun to let the weeds go and see what the flowers look like, isn't it? Some of them (like pokeweed) are kind of fun and pretty. YAY for the lupine! Let me know if you see anything in my garden that you'd like in return. :)

Annie in Austin, so true! What a difference that second name makes! I will have to re-read Carol's post... I admit that I don't know as much about botanical Latin as I should.

I wonder if we didn't have Google to fall back on, if I just wouldn't have answers... or if I would be somehow more diligent/intelligent about my manual identification skills? Hmm.

Kylee, LOL! The young guy who is interning with me at work is very metrosexual. He is absolutely horrified by my rough-looking hands... but willing enough to accept some of my "gourmet cherry jam!" *grin*

I WISH I had the ability to take a good macro photo. My camera is distressingly out of date... *sigh*

spookydragonfly said...

I tried to leave you a message yesterday-not sure if it went through-I risk repeating myself-I'm originally from Brook Park-basically my entire life until we moved to Carroll county 6 years ago - we were neighbors! Just wanted to say that I enjoyed reading your blog!

lisa said...

Cool find! I'm getting a lot more interesting weeds this year with all the rain we've been getting. If I don't know what it is, I will leave it to find out (unless it's crowding something important). Funny how last year I was thrilled that ANYTHING was growing in the dry weather, this year is sooo opposite.

lisa said...

LOVE the new header, BTW! :)

joey said...

Your little 'weedy' orchid is a lovely find, Kim. I think I might be tempted to find epipactis helleborine a home where it might wander about and do its thing.

Amy said...

Hi there Kim - so glad you paid me a visit and took the time to introduce yourself :)

The purple clematis I pictured in my post is jackmanii in both photos. Mine does look pretty dark - my parents down the street have the same plants and the flowers are definitely a lighter purple. Not sure why that it though...

Unknown said...

spookydragonfly, thanks for coming back--because your first comment did NOT come through for some reason! When you lived in Brook Park, I actually lived in Parma... so we were closer neighbors than you thought, even. :)

Lisa, I wondered, too, if the higher levels of precipitation this year were making different weeds come out. I don't remember seeing any of these guys last year, and you're right--it was MUCH more dry last summer. Hmm. (And thanks for the header compliment!)

joey, I was a bit tempted... but since I'm trying not to allow thugs in my garden, I felt like I just couldn't leave it be! :)

Amy, huh... I wonder why the difference in the flower color? Mine is probably more like your parents' jackmanii... and I'm drooling over the darker purple of yours! Thanks for stopping by and answering my question.

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