Elegant rein orchid, coast piperia
California, the Pacific Northwest, and some adjacent areas
Open, dry, coastal locations; bluffs, scrubland, conifer woodland; below 1,500 feet
Widely lanceolate; up to 12 inches long and 3 inches wide
Leaves of piperia elegans grow only around the base and have often withered by flowering; like most orchid species they are relatively large and broad, and have prominent, closely-spaced, lengthwise veins. Plants are most common along the Pacific coast, growing in generally dry locations.
The inflorescence extends up to 15 inches along the upper part of the stem; flowers are distributed evenly on all sides, not arranged spirally. Each flower is subtended by a green bract. The three sepals are white, with a green central vein, and the upper sepal points vertically upwards. The three petals are white or pale green, and similar in size. The lower petal has a spur underneath.
There are two subspecies of piperia elegans; ssp elegans has a spur longer than a quarter of an inch, while the less common ssp decurtata has a spur less than a quarter of an inch, lateral petals more green than white and is a generally shorter species (less than 13 inches).