Stream Orchid

My own orchid collection has species and hybrids from all over the world, but only one that’s native to San Francisco. It may be less glamorous than its tropical relatives, but this Epipactis, or Stream Orchid, really enjoys the local climate. This species has a large range over western North America, spanning from Canada south to Mexico, and from California east to Texas.

Epipactis flowerEpipactis flowerEpipactis flowers and leaves

Also known as the False Ladyslipper, the Stream Orchid is not an air plant. It’s a terrestrial orchid that lives in moist soils along streams, on cliff faces, and in mountain bogs. The plant dies back during winter, and re-emerges from underground tubers the next spring.

Epipactis flowerEpipactis flower close upEpipactis flower side view

Many terrestrial orchids are difficult to grow, requiring highly specialized conditions (yet another reason why you should NEVER remove wild orchids from their natural homes.) However, Epipactis gigantea is relatively easy to cultivate, and adapts to a wide range of conditions. I keep mine in regular potting soil, and keep the pot in a tray of water so it never dries out. It loves a good dose of compost fertilizer, which has helped my plant grow into a vigorous specimen. Certainly it seems right at home.

Epipactis plant with dozens of flowersEpipactis flowerEpipactis flower buds opening

Explore posts in the same categories: Cool Growers, Dormancy, Fertilizing, Growing, Growing Orchids in San Francisco, Photos

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7 Comments on “Stream Orchid”

  1. MonicaA Says:

    Those grow wild here in Colorado but I never knew it was an orchid! The flowres and leaves look exactly the same so I know its the same plant. And it grows streamside just like you said. Thanks for the blog this is really great info.

  2. CJM Says:

    Great post! Thanks!

  3. Ann D Says:

    The flower looks lilke it has fangs! It looks very glamorous to me, just as pretty as other orchids. Thanks for the nice photos.

  4. nancy Says:

    That has really pretty flowers for a native american orchid. Most of them aren’t as attractive. Thanks for the post.

  5. AboutOrchids » Blog Archive » Wild Orchids Says:

    […] There are photos of the Stream Orchid, Epipactis gigantea, growing in the wild, and info about other lesser-known, but still fascinating, Golden State species.[…]

  6. erica Says:

    nice pics

  7. AboutOrchids » Blog Archive » Urban Jungle Says:

    […] Among the orchids in our urban jungle, this Zygo flowers several times a year, and the Epipactis still has blooms holding on. […]