Listera caurina “Northwestern Twayblade” Orchidaceae

Great Burn, Lolo National Forest, MT
July 10, 2015
Robert Niese


These tiny orchids are extremely common in moist forests throughout the PNW, but their minute flowers (only 6mm across!) and uniform green coloration make them easy to miss. Recent genetic research has placed all members of the genus Listera into the old world genus Neottia which used to contain a single, achlorophyllous species, but I’m really more of a lumper than a splitter, so I won’t be changing my taxonomy for a while!

Listera cordata “Heart-leaf Twayblade” Orchidaceae

Olympic National Park, WA
June 3, 2013
Robert Niese

This tiny orchid has a circumboreal distribution and is most often found in the moist forest understory hiding among the mosses. Twayblade orchids are fairly common in the Pacific Northwest but are usually overlooked due to their size (rarely more than a few inches tall) and unremarkable coloration. We have five species of Twayblade in the PNW – one of which is endangered.

Calypso bulbosa “Calypso Orchid” or “Pink Fairy Slipper” Orchidaceae

Glacier National Park, MT
June 22, 2014
Robert Niese

The Calypso Orchid has an amazingly broad circumboreal distribution. From Japan to Mongolia, Scandinavia to Newfoundland, New Mexico to Alaska – this single species can be found in nearly every montane coniferous forest in the Northern Hemisphere. In spite of this C. bulbosa is considered endangered in Sweden, Finland, and several U.S. states due to its extreme sensitivity to even the slightest human disturbances.