Stream orchid, giant helleborine
Mostly in the Pacific states, plus Nevada and Arizona; less common further east
Between 1 and 3 feet
Beside permanent springs and streams
Widely lanceolate to elliptic, alternate, up to 5.5 inches long and 2.5 inches wide
Although found over a wide area of the west, epipactis gigantea is restricted to many small, scattered locations, found only beside shady springs, seeps and streams. This is one of the tallest orchids in the US, reaching heights of 3 feet. Leaves are long and broad, and have the grooved surfaces typical of this genus.
Flowers (up to 15) form singly at the top and the upper leaf nodes, borne on short, stout, drooping stalks. The flowers are also large (hence the species name gigantea); both the 3 sepals and 3 petals are nearly an inch in length. The sepals are light green with purple/brown veins, and are similar in shape, while the petals are yellow/green tinged pink, also with purple/red veins. The lower petal (the lip) is deeply concave, projects forward at the base, and has more pronounced red veins. At the center of the flower is a green column, a fused stamen and stigma.