Cymbidium goeringii, a cold hardy terrestrial orchid from east Asia

Japan is home to potentially the most cold hardy of all Cymbidium orchids, C. goeringii.  This remarkable plant lives further north than any other member of the genus, even up to southern Hokkaido (Okushiri Island, 42 degrees north latitude), where it endures below freezing temperatures from late fall through early spring.  An added bonus is the amazing fragrance of its long lasting flowers.

Cymbidium goeringii in habitat
Cymbidium goeringii often grows in rocky woods in a very thin layer of humus – almost to the point you could call them lithophytic.

Cymbidium goeringii is an evergreen orchid with below ground pseudobulbs and long, grass-like leaves.  The pseudobulbs are round and flattened somewhat, growing at tight intervals along the thick rhizome.  The roots are many, thick, fleshy and white, and up to a half meter long.  The leaves number 4-5 per growth, each being 12-40 cm long and about 1 cm wide.  In early fall flower shoots form at the base of that season’s growth.  They are thickest at the middle and come to point;  3-4 cm long and about 1 cm wide.  This shoot remains in stasis until late March or early April when it begins to grow into a thick flower stalk to a height of 12-25 cm. It is graced with a single flower (very rarely two), and covered by a number of alternating white to green sheaths.  The flower is 4-5 cm across.

The sepals and petals are bright emerald green with purple striations and sometimes blotching.  The dorsal sepal always bends forward over the lip, but the lower sepals either are cupped forward as well, or they flare out laterally, looking like wings.  The petals are always cupped forward and very tightly cover the column. The lip is white overall with purple blotches and is also yellow at its point of attachment.  It is strongly recurved back to the point of making contact with its base on the underside of the flower.  The ovary is purple-pink in color and covered by a large pinkish-white sheath.  If pollinated, the seed pod grows vertically rather than staying in the same position as the flower, and grows to a remarkable size.  Plants can remain as single growths for years or sometimes become large clumps numbering 15 or more flowering stems.

Cymbidium goeringii flowers
Typical flowers of Cymbidium goeringii are green with a white lip.

This species is found throughout Japan from Kyushu to southern Hokkaido (Okushiri Island) as well as Korea and China.  Chinese plants can be quite different looking and multi-flowered (e.g., v. longibracteatum).  It is found in an array of habitats, from moist woodlands, conifer plantations, to pine forests on seaside sand dunes. The preferred habitat seems to be on extremely steep rocky slopes that are almost vertical. In these places in can grow as a near lithophyte on the thin humus over bedrock. Found from sea-level to ~800 meters on Kyushu.
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Japanese deer fern, Blechnum nipponicum

Japan’s moist woods are home to a small growing Blechnum species, B. nipponicum, that may either be distinct, or a variety of the much more far ranging species, B. spicant, the deer fern.  Regardless, this one is special in my mind, a perfect looking fern, worthy of any serious gardener’s eye.

Blechnum nipponicum is a small evergreen fern with two distinct frond types, fertile and sterile.  Both are once pinnate and uncomplicated looking.  The sterile fronds are more showy with broader pinnae, and are up to 8-30 cm long and 3-8 cm wide.  The pinnae are simple, flat, and oblong.  They extend nearly from the base of each stipe to the very tip of the frond in opposing rows presented in a flat plain, and are longer at the center of the frond.  The sterile fronds grow in a lovely rosette and usually have an elegant arch to them.  They stay close to the ground rather than growing vertically.

Blechnum nipponicum plant
Once mature, the rosette of sterile fronds turn a gorgeous brilliant green. The Japanese name, Shishigashira, meaning “lion’s mane” is perhaps a reference to its outward appearance – a lion’s head!

The fertile fronds grow vertically, are much taller, and have much more narrow pinnae. They also are born in opposite pairs, but are highly reduced towards the stipe end, and grow much looser on the blade as well.  The indusia and accompanying sori are long and linear, originating at the base of each pinna and extending nearly the entire length of it.  They occur in pairs on either side of the costa. The croziers start out bright electric green to deep red and the new fronds often have this same color for some time. These eventually grow progressively darker green, a common trait in many ferns, especially Blechnum species.

Blechnum nipponicum fertile fronds
The erect fertile fronds of Blechnum nipponicum expand a bit later than the sterile ones, and flush a deeper red color.  Whether is species is distinct or falls within Blechnum spicant is still in question.  It is a relatively small form regardless.

It occurs in small colonies or as individual plants in any moist forest in deep to light shade, but   sometimes can be seen on sunny roadsides in thick growth with grasses and small shrubs.  Like many other types of fern, it readily colonizes raw earth in cuts created by roads, paths, and landslides as well.  Found from near sea-level to 1000+ m, but most common in lower elevations, 200-400 m.

This species is apparently widespread on the mainland islands of Japan.   I’m unsure of its presence on the islands south of Yaku Island (where it is represented by a dwarf race, or so I’ve heard), or in neighboring Asian countries.  This plant is also treated as a variety of the circumboreal species B. spicant, with which it is obviously very closely allied, commonly called deer fern.  Given that fern’s incredible range, extending from England throughout much of Europe to the Caucus Mountains, north Africa, northeast Asia, and western North America, it is not surprising that various forms have evolved.  Whether this plant falls into B. spicant or is distinct is still in question.
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Two “helleborine” orchids from Japan, genus Cephalanthera

Two remarkable and lovely partially saprophytic orchids adorn the woodlands of Japan, Cephalanthera erecta, and its bigger and more showy cousin, Cephalanthera falcata.  They are lovely and yet enigmatic in cultivation, presumably due to a tight relationship they have with soil fungal symbionts.  European species of this genus are called helleborine.

Cephalanthera erecta is a deciduous woodland perennial plant, standing from 7 to 30 cm tall.  The leaves are arrayed around a thin, upright, pubescent stem in an alternating and staggered pattern.  Each leaf is bright green and elongated coming to a point, and is anywhere from  5-15 cm long and 1-3 cm wide.  They are deeply veined and pubescent and look much like a Cypripedium leaf.  In early May the flowers are held at the top of the stem in a loose group, pointing more or less in the same direction.  They are 2 cm long and brilliant white, and almost don’t open.  Each has a little green spur at the bottom of the lip.  Plants occur singly or in loose groups, occasionally forming colonies in the hundreds.

Cephalanthera erecta in habitat
Cephalanthera erecta can be found in dark forests and and growing in grass on sunny roadsides.

The common form of this species usually occurs in moist dark woodlands and woodland edges, but sometimes is found on grassy embankments of roadsides and trails.  While it is found throughout Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu it is absent from Hokkaido.  Another variety, sometimes considered a separate species, v. subaphylla, extends into Hokkaido a well.  Both are very similar looking.

I first saw this unassuming little plant at the edge of a forest in tall grass.  It was tiny, standing no more than 7 cm high.  A search of the surrounding area for more proved fruitless.  A couple years later I found more plants flowering in a deep, dark woodland not more than a five minute bike ride from my front door!  The plants I’ve seen are remarkably small and they can be noticed mostly due to their brilliant white flowers looking like little pearls in the dim forest light.  The plant itself looks much like a Cypripedium or Epipactis, but the flowers are a dead give away.

This species, along with all other members of this genus, are thought to be at least partially dependent on soil fungi for their nutrition, hence they are semi-saprophytic, or more accurately partially ectoparasitic on the fungus.  This is surprising due to their bright green leaves.  At least one member of this genus is fully ectoparasitic, the North American C. austinaeC. erecta is a small plant and not very desirable as a garden subject, therefore I suspect it will have a secure future in Japan.

Cephalanthera erecta flowers
The flowers of Cephalanthera erecta never truly open. You can see the little green spur at the base of the flower.

C. falcata is very similar to C. erecta, standing from 20 to 40 cm tall.  The leaves grow in an alternating pattern around a robust, pubescent stem.  Each leaf is deeply veined and pubescent, looking much like a Cypripedium leaf, being 5-18 cm long and 2-5 cm wide.  They overlap each other such that the bulk of the stem isn’t visible.  In fact the plant itself looks nearly identical to Cypripedium californicum. The flowers are held at the top of the stem in a fairly tight group and facing upward.  They are large, showy, and bright yellow and are  2-3cm across.  Unlike C. erecta the flowers open more fully, but remain cupped.
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A Calypso tribe orchid from Japan, Cremastra appendiculata

Cremastra appendiculata is a curious terrestrial orchid from the warmer woodlands of Japan, Korea, and China.  It’s single leaf is green in winter and dormant in summer, thus revealing its membership in the Calypso tribe.  It was one of the first orchids I encountered in Japan, and in time I found out that it is rather common and widespread.

In fall a single leaf comes up from a string of bulbs spanning an underground rhizome like oversized beads.  The leaf is dark green and smooth, 20-35 cm long and 5-8 cm wide, and slightly glossy.  It persists through the winter months until the plant is finished blooming sometime in early June at which point it dies down.  Come spring the leaf is often covered in yellow blotches.  I’m not sure the source of these, but most plants have them.  This trait is also seen in another Japanese orchid, Phaius flavus.  The branch less flower raceme starts growth in early May and by late May the flowers are fully open.  There are between 10-30 of them.

Cremastra appendiculata plant and flowers
A flowering plant of Cremastra appendiculata, You can see the yellow spotting on the leaves – not a virus, but a peculiarity of its leaves.

The flowers are elongate, approximately 4 cm long, only partially opened, and downward hanging.  The sepals and petals are a greenish brown color and are suffused with purple.  The lip is three lobed. It is almost a tube and elongate. The base of it along with the lateral lobes are bright purple/pink.  The central lobe is pure white with some purple/pink markings.  The column too is elongate; purple/pink at the base, white at the tip, and the pollina are bright yellow.  “Alba” forms exist, that is, green flowered plants without any purple pigmentation.  After flowering the leaf turns brown. If the flowers are pollinated, seed pods will form and mature by late summer, and split around November.

On Kyushu it is frequent in moist to wet woodlands in moderate to deep shade, often along streams, seeps, and sometimes even on the edges of small mountain rivers where it is subject to periodic flooding.  It ranges throughout much of Japan from Kyushu to southern Hokkaido (Sapporo), and also Korea and China.

Cremastra appendiculata along a stream
These plants of Cremastra appendiculata were the first ones I found in Japan. Here they are growing spitting distance from a brook – a typical habitat for this species.

This species, like many of its relatives in the tribe Calypsoeae, is green in the winter months and dormant in the summer. It is much like the North American orchid Aplectrum hyemale in many respects, and I like to think of it as the Asian counterpart.  I first found this curious and lovely plant in fall just after the new leaves had appeared.  I knew it was an orchid, but I wasn’t at all sure which.  They were growing on a mountain along a small stream deep in a mossy woods.  I followed the plants through the winter and figured it to be an evergreen species, perhaps related to Phaius.  Come spring I finally got to see its flowers one warm day in May, and it was then that I found out its true identity.
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A lovely saprophytic orchid from Japan, Cyrtosia septentrionalis

Japan’s warm temperate forests are home to a truly unique saprophytic orchid species, Cyrtosia septentrionalis.  The genus Cyrtosia is mostly from southern Asia, so this species is a northern outlier.  In fact the name septentrionalis means “of the north”.  It is lovely in flower and fruit and unique in many ways.

C. septentrionalis grows a leafless highly branched flower stalk to the height of 35-55 cm starting in late May, and by late June strange clusters of yellow and orange-brown flowers hang every which way off short lateral stems.  Each flower is about 3 cm across.  The lip is golden yellow and curled upward nearly clasping the column and thus forming a tube-like structure.  Its upper surface is covered in fine bristles.  The white column is long and descending, cradled by the curved lip.  The sepals and petals are a uniform orange-brown color, sweeping backward in elegant lines from the flower’s front.  The buds, ovaries, and backs of the sepals and petals are covered in a light pubescence.

Cyrtosia septentrionalis flowering plants
Flowering plants of Cyrtosia septentrionalis are large and showy, and yet are difficult to spot in the wild.

After pollination, sometime in July, huge banana-like cherry red seed pods begin to form in hanging clusters and are fully mature by early fall.  Each pod is 6-10 cm in length and covered in fine bumps.  Inside winged seeds are formed and from what I can tell, the pods never truly split, hence the seeds within simply drop to the ground still within the pod.  Presumably they germinate once the pod rots way.  Being a saprophytic plant (or more exactly, an ectoparasite) it bears no leaves and has no noticeable green color.

This unique terrestrial orchid is found in moist woodlands in moderate to deep shade throughout Japan from Kyushu to southern Hokkaido (Sapporo).  It is said to also be in Korea.  The plant seems to prefer the rich evergreen broad leaf forests at lower elevations, ~300-500 m.

Cyrtosia septentrionalis flower
Cyrtosia septentrionalis has lovely flowers and they are fairly large, about 3 cm across.

This was the first native orchid I ever saw in the wild in Japan.  It was next to a trail on a popular mountain hike and even had a sign showing it was there!  Since that day I’ve found it scattered about the mountains here and there, but never in any great number.  It is a most peculiar orchid for many reasons.  The following are a some things that make it unusual:

Cyrtosia septentrionalis buds
The young buds of Cyrtosia septentrionalis show the relation of this genus to Vanilla orchids.

1.  It is closely related to Vanilla orchids having huge bright red seed pods, hanging like crimson bunches of bananas.  Clusters of flower buds also show the affiliation with the genus Vanilla.

2.  The seeds within are very large winged affairs.  Members of this genus have the largest seeds of all orchids (see pic with my grubby finger).  The wing also is a unique feature.

3.  It is an ectoparasite with no visible green parts (achlorophyllous).  They live in close relationship with specific fungi and are in turn either using dead organic matter in the soil as a nutrient source or the roots of other plants.
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Southern Japan’s ghost orchid, Epipogium roseum

Japan’s dark, wet southern woodlands are host to an odd saprophytic orchid, Epipogium roseum.  Despite its name this plant appears pure white when encountered, so I call it the “ghost orchid” of Japan.  In truth this achlorophyllous herb (lacking chlorophyll) is a far ranging species, found throughout much of the southern hemisphere except South America.

Epipogium roseum spike
The mature spike of Epipogium roseum is perfectly straight.

Epipogium roseum sends up a leafless, crystalline white flower stalk that arises to the height of 15-40 cm by early summer.  The flower buds form in a slightly hanging cluster at the apex of the stalk (not unlike Calanthe reflexa) initially, but as it elongates the flowers are presented alternately along the perfectly straight scape.  These are pure white, cupped, downward hanging, and about 1 cm long.  The sepals and petals are elongate and look similar to each other.  The lip is broader and a little frilled, but remains mostly cupped and inconspicuous.  Close inspection shows the it has a few purple speckles on it, yet hardly worthy of the name roseum.  The flower stem and the flower’s ovaries have a slight yellow brown color, but the overall impression is of a totally white plant.  Pods form rapidly after the flowers have opened perhaps hinting at self pollination (autogamy).  Being a saprophytic plant (or more exactly, an ectoparasite) it bears no leaves and has no noticeable green color.

It is found in moist woodlands in moderate to deep shade.  Some sources state that it is commonly seen growing in compost heaps and that is exactly where I first found the plant.  In Japan it occurs as far north as the central Honshu coast to Chiba and Kanagawa Prefectures (Miura Peninsula), and southward to Shikoku, Kyushu, Okinawa and its surrounding islands.  It is definitely a more tropical species, being found from Taiwan to southeast Asia including Malaysia, Melanesia, southern China, Vietnam, Thailand, and India.  Surprisingly it is also reported from Australia, New Zealand, and almost beyond expectation, in east Africa (Kenya).  Likely it is found throughout East Indies as well.

I first found this species most unexpectedly growing on the verge of someone’s garden.  Nearby several plants were growing out of a compost pile, and in the surrounding woodland were many more plants.  The most notable aspect of this plant is that it has no obvious color in spite of its epithet, roseum.  The lower stem can have a bit of yellow brown, but that is hardly noticeable at first glance. The clear white stems, buds, and flowers also belie a translucence on close inspection.

Epipogium roseum buds
The buds of Epipogium roseum start out hanging nearly downward in a tight cluster.

Japan is this species’ northern outpost, up to central Honshu, but otherwise appears to be mostly a denizen of subtropical and tropical forests throughout southern Asia.  The plant grows from a subterranean tuber-like root.  The flowers only superficially open, remaining strongly cupped and generally face downward.  Though not a real beauty, is is an interesting species.  It is said to be rather rare throughout its range, or at least is under reported.
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Three Calanthe from Japan’s southern mountains

In the warm temperate woods of southern and central Japan exist two beautiful terrestrial orchids, Calanthe discolor and C. sieboldii, as well as their natural hybrid, C. x bicolor.  C. discolor still exists in some quantity in the wild, but C. sieboldii as well as their hybrid have been collected almost to the point of extinction.  Even to this day plants routinely “disappear” from their mountain homes, often ending up for sale at roadside vendors and orchid shows.  Let’s have a look at the most common of the three first, C. discolor.

C. discolor is a conspicuous and showy orchid species.  The leaves are evergreen and deeply ribbed giving them a pleated look.  Each is 10-30 cm long and 5-10 cm wide.  Most growths have only two leaves, but as many as four are possible.  The relatively small subterranean pseudobulbs are round and have ribs, growing in a chain, so people thought they looked like shrimp, hence the Japanese name ebine, meaning literally “shrimp root”.

Calanthe discolor, dark and light colored forms
These two Calanthe discolor growing side by side show the two ends of the flower color scale for this species..

From the center of each growth a branch less flower stalk arises to the height of 15-35 cm and can sport anywhere from 5 to 20 bicolored flowers. Each flower is about 3 cm across and has a rounded look with the sepals and petals being the same color and similar in shape and size. The lip is three lobed and a different color.  The lateral lobes are broad, with rounded edges and are smooth.  The central lobe is lightly to deeply ribbed with varying numbers of protrusions.  It is often lobed at its end as well.  The column is large and knob-like and is usually the same color as the lip.  Flower color can vary widely with the typical flower having a white lip with pale purple markings (sometimes yellow as well) and the sepals and petals being a shade of greenish-brown.  Having said that I’ve seen flowers ranging from the typical type to ones with pure white lips with green sepals and petals, others with purplish lips with chocolate brown sepals and petals, and ones completely suffused with purple.

Calanthe discolor flower types
The flowers of Calanthe discolor are highly variable in color and form.

This species grows in a variety of habitats including wet to moist woodlands, conifer plantations, along mountain streams, on tops of mountain ridges, and on seepage slopes.  It can be found throughout the warmer temperate regions of Japan from Kyushu to southern Hokkaido.  Plants can be single growths or make large clumps in time with 20 or more flowering stems.
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The bamboo ferns of Japan, genus Coniogramme

Two lovely evergreen ferns of Japan are Coniogramme intermedia and C. japonica.  Of the two, C. japonica has become well known in western horticulture as the “bamboo fern”, but the other is rarely, if ever seen.  Both are remarkable ferns, worthy of a place in any collection, and harbor a hope of being fairly cold hardy.

Coniogramme intermedia is a medium to large size evergreen fern with a short creeping rhizome.  The fronds are basically once pinnate, deep green, glossy, and up to 60-100 cm long and 25-35 cm wide. The basal pinnae can be divided once more, sporting shorter pinnules, but these number few and the apical pinnule is the largest by far.  The pinnae have lightly toothed margins.  The scaleless stipe accounts for approximately 1/3 or the frond length.  The naked sori occur in lines that follow the pinnae veins.  These can separate up to three times but never cross one another, and extend up the veins 1/2 to 3/4 of the way to the margin of the pinnae only.

Coniogramme intermedia crozier
The crozier of Coniogramme intermedia is wiry and small – you would not imagine it would expand into a large frond.

This fern is commonly seen as single clumps in wet forests, often along streams and seeps from low to mid elevations, 100-600 meters, on Kyushu Island.  It is a widespread species, growing across Japan from Hokkaido and southward.  It is also reported from Korea, Taiwan, and China.

Of the two Coniogramme species found in Fukuoka, this one is the more lovely to my eye.  It tends to grow its pinnae more close together, and they are broader in comparison with those of C. japonica, giving it a more robust and luxuriant look.  An added feature is that the pinnae taper rapidly towards their ends, thus producing a tail-like shape.  The pattern of the sori also differs from its cousin.  The naked sori occur in lines corresponding to the leaf veins, and these can branch two and sometimes three times, but these divisions never cross over each other.  Also, the sori never extend fully out to the margins of the pinnae, but usually fall well short.  In C. japonica the sori often cross over to each other and they extend nearly to the margins of the pinnae.

This is a common fern in moist valleys and near streams and can often be seen growing with its cousin C. japonica.  Several varieties have been recognized and named, their differences mostly having to do with pinnae shape and how far the sori extend to the pinnae margin. A natural hybrid, C. x fauriei, also exists between this species and the more common C. japonica.

Coniogramme intermedia plant
In my book Coniogramme intermedia is the lovelier of the two species in Fukuoka.

C. japonica is larger growing than its relative, but likewise is evergreen.  The fronds are twice pinnate and glossy, growing up to  60-100+ cm long and 40-60 cm wide. The pinnae are divided half way up the blade, and the remaining pinnae are undivided.  The basal pinnae are the most divided, having four to six pinnules each, giving the frond a more complex look.  The pinnae have lightly toothed margins and taper gradually to form a lanceolate shape.  The scaleless stipe accounts for approximately 1/3 or the frond length.  The naked sori occur in lines that can branch up to three times and occasionally cross over one another, and extend up the veins almost to the pinnae margins.
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A miniature terrestrial orchid from Japan, Ponerorchis

Japan is home to many miniature species of orchid, but few come close to Ponerorchis graminifolia it terms of showiness.  It is so lovely in fact that plants in the wild are all but gone these days from over collection.  Luckily, it has proven to be fairly easy to grow and so today there are many varieties to choose from.

Ponerorchis graminifolia is a dwarf herbaceous perennial orchid of craggy rock ledges.  The entire plant rarely exceeds 15 cm in height.  The grass-like narrow leaves number between 3-6 per growth and occur alternately opposite each other on a thin, yet strong stem.  The glaucous leaves are longest at the bottom and tapper off to very short, almost bract-like affairs at uppermost (near the flowers).  They can be bright green, deep green, or striated with purple streaks depending on the variety and are between 2-10 cm long each.

Ponerorchis graminifolia plants
Another fancy selected form of Ponerorchis graminifolia. The leaves are grass-like, hence the name graminifolia which means, “grass leaf”.

The flower stalk continues on from the last leaf for a considerable distance (up to half the entire height of the plant) and bear anywhere from 1 to 20 flowers.  The flowers are small, no more than 2 cm on average.  Each flower has an attending bract, but are so small so as to be almost unnoticeable.  Naturally occurring plants have flowers with a deeply trilobed lip, back flung, narrow sepals, and a hood-like structure composed of the dorsal sepal and petals covering the column.  The flower also boasts a conspicuous spur that is usually fairly straight in the wild forms, but tends of be hooked in many of the cultivated varieties. Typical flower color is pinkish with purple striations on the lip in particular.  Variation in cultivated forms is extreme as you can see in the photos.

Ponerorchis graminifolia wild type
This flower is a wild type form of Ponerorchis graminifolia. The lip is much reduced in size and the flower is a bit smaller than selectively bred ones.

The roots are few, fleshy, and relatively short. They last only one growing season.  The plants grow from underground light brown tubers that look like little potatoes.  Their shape is anything from round to elongate to forked (hence the name orchis meaning “testicle”) and range from 1-8 cm long. These can increase from year to year considerably with a vigorous plant producing 3 or more new tubers from one parent tuber.  Again, these last just one growing season feeding the new growth and flowers.  So, the underground portion of the plant is completely renewed each season, as are the above ground parts – a fact that is truly amazing when you think about it.
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Two jewel orchids from southern Japan

Two miniature jewel orchids grace the high ridge lines of the mountains around Fukuoka Prefecture in Kyushu, southern Japan.  They are easily missed if you’re in a hurry since neither is usually much larger than a large coin.  Both are in the genera Goodyera, a circumboreal genus related to Spiranthes.

Goodyera schlechtendaliana is a dwarf evergreen terrestrial orchid with small rosettes of leaves growing off a partially subterranean and trailing rhizome.  These rosettes can be up to 10 cm across in large specimens, but usually are no more than 4-6 cm large.  The deep green leaves are patterned with white veins in varying amounts with some intricately ornate while others are almost pure green, and are from 2-5 cm long and 1-3 cm wide.

Goodyera schlectendaliana plant
A lovely specimen of Goodyera schlechtendaliana.

The branched less flower stalk starts growing in July.  It is strongly pubescent, light green, and rises to a maximum height of 15 cm.  The flowers are born in a loose spiral, and yet all face the same direction.  They are few in number, anywhere from 3-15, and open sequentially.  Although a tiny plant, the flowers are relatively large with some nearly being 2 cm across.  They are white with a light pink cast, and the outer surfaces are strongly pubescent.  The peak flowering season is August, but trails into September.

Goodyera schlectendaliana, flowering plants
Goodyera schlechtendaliana, flowering plants in habitat.

The lip, dorsal sepal, and petals form a tight protruding formation with the dorsal sepal and petals making a little hood over the lip whose tip points downward (looking like a little tongue).  The lower sepals flare out laterally with a graceful curve and look like wings.  The overall impression is of a small white bird in flight.  In fact, the Japanese name means “deep  mountain quail”, perhaps a reference to the flowers and also the veined leaves which might be thought of as quail wings.  Seed formation is rapid, perhaps no more than one month total.  After flowering the growth dies and a new set of leaf rosettes form along the rhizome.

This plant is found in moist woodlands, conifer plantations, and ridge-line forests, from sea-level to ~1000 meters throughout central and southern Japan.  It is also reported from Korea and China.

Goodyera schlectendaliana flowers
Goodyera schlechtendaliana has large flowers compared to the plant itself – don’t even ask about the name!

This is a small plant with a big name.  It is cosmopolitan about its habitat choice, being found at near sea-level to the highest mountain ridge-lines, at least in Kyushu.  It is seen most frequently on the very tops of these ridges in relatively dry woods with the caveat that these places can receive 2 meters or more of rain annually.  Here it can form extensive, dense colonies, but is most commonly seen sprinkled throughout the woods in loose groups.
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