Putty Root Orchid

Exploring in the big ravine a few years ago I came across a single interesting leaf. I remembered seeing a picture of it in my “Ozark Wildflowers” guidebook under an entry for the putty root orchid also called the Adam and Eve orchid.

In the fall this single large leaf appears. It is finely striped green and white yet looks green. It is elliptical with a blunt point. Only one leaf survives the winter.

Having no way to mark the spot, I made note of a large sycamore nearby on the edge of the ravine waterway. A couple of fallen branches were moved to surround the leaf.

And I couldn’t find it again.

A couple of falls back I found the leaf again alongside a single stem with seed pods on it. The putty root orchid blooms in the spring and this was the result.

I again marked the spot. This time I could find the stem as it was a bit over a foot tall and more easily visible than the leaf down near the ground.

Missouri is home to a number of orchids. The most well known one is the Lady Slipper. Other nice ones to spot are the Lady’s Tresses with their small, white flowers spiraling around a central stem.

Putty root orchids have the single leaf in late summer through the winter. By spring it’s tattered and drying up. Some springs, not all, the plant sends up a stem topped with purple and green flowers.

putty root orchid flower

This spring I got lucky. I had gotten good at finding the correct sycamore tree and could watch for a flower stalk. And it was up with the first orchids open.

The Lady Slippers are blooming now too. I love finding the big yellow moccasins in various ravines.

The putty root orchid is much smaller, but lovely colors. Even better is finally finding it in full bloom.

Milkweeds bloom in the summer. Check out the new guidebook to Missouri Milkweeds.