Herbs & Plants

Habenaria sparsiflora

Botanical Name: Habenaria sparsiflora
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Orchidoideae
Genus: Platanthera
Species: P. sparsiflora
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asparagales

Synonyms : Platanthera sparsiflora.
Common Names: Sparse-flowered bog orchid

Habitat : Habenaria sparsiflora is native to Western N. America – Washington to Arizona and California. Found mainly along the sides of streams or in boggy places in montane coniferous forests, 1200 – 3300 metres. Wet meadows, marshes, fens, stream banks, shores, seeping slopes; 0 – 3500 m.

Habenaria sparsiflora is a perennial orchid plant, growing to 0.6 m (2ft). It produces a slender, erect flowering stem up to about half a meter tall. It is in flower from May to August. The longest leaves near the base of the stem are up to 15 centimeters long by 3 wide. The inflorescence has widely spaced twisted green flowers with petals up to a centimeter in length. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects…..CLICK  &  SEE THE  PICTURES
We have very little information on this species and do not know if it will be hardy in Britain, though judging by its native range it should succeed outdoors in many parts of this country. Orchids are, in general, shallow-rooting plants of well-drained low-fertility soils. Even those species that grow in bogs tend to be in the drier areas of the bog with plenty of water 15cm or more below soil level. Their symbiotic relationship with a fungus in the soil allows them to obtain sufficient nutrients and be able to compete successfully with other plants. They are very sensitive to the addition of fertilizers or fungicides since these can harm the symbiotic fungus and thus kill the orchid.

Seed – surface sow, preferably as soon as it is ripe, in the greenhouse and do not allow the compost to dry out. The seed of this species is extremely simple, it has a minute embryo surrounded by a single layer of protective cells. It contains very little food reserves and depends upon a symbiotic relationship with a species of soil-dwelling fungus. The fungal hyphae invade the seed and enter the cells of the embryo. The orchid soon begins to digest the fungal tissue and this acts as a food supply for the plant until it is able to obtain nutrients from decaying material in the soil. It is best to use some of the soil that is growing around established plants in order to introduce the fungus, or to sow the seed around a plant of the same species and allow the seedlings to grow on until they are large enough to move. Division in autumn. The plant is very intolerant of root disturbance, any moving or dividing should be attempted in the autumn, keep a large ball of soil around the plant

Edible Uses: The plant has been used as food in times of food shortage.

Medicinal Uses: Not known.


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