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Stumbled over this while putting up Redneck Flowerbeds along the fence. (Ingredients–one 2 x 8, two metal stakes, one mallet, one chain link fence. Add dirt and mulch, plant vines along fence line so that you don’t have to keep staring at the @!@#!&! chain link.)


What am I?

My botanical knowledge is pretty extensive in some very specific areas, but “proper names of leaves so you can look them up” is not one of them. So I have no idea what this is. The leaves look a little like plantain and a little like lady’s slipper and are probably something else entirely.

I’m interested because it appears to be coming up RIGHT NOW and it’s January, ergo this is an evergreen or an ephemeral or very very confused.

Seasonally dry woods, hard clay, some leaf litter, North Carolina Piedmont. Nothing else grows in this area except honeysuckle and sweet gum seedlings, so I’m curious as much because that is one tough little bugger as anything else.

Anybody got any ideas?

ETA: Ellen Honeycutt, who is obviously amazing, managed to ID this puppy for me — it’s “Crane-fly Orchid,” a peculiar native orchid that puts up leaves in fall, then flower in summer (after the leaves are dead.) The plant may have been there for years, but it’s so unobtrusive I might never have noticed if I hadn’t been stomping around by the fence line. As each corm puts up a single leaf, there’s clearly a clump of corms here, so I’ll have to keep an eye out for flowers in summer.  Crane-fly orchid is endangered in several parts of its range, but secure in North Carolina.

Originally published at Squash's Garden. You can comment here or there.

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My next door neighbour is a walking botanical encyclopaedia. I shall ask her in the morning :-)

can't remember if you are on an iphone, but there is a nice app called LeafSnap. It requires a white background behind a single leaf, but it makes a valiant attempt at ID.

Personally, with your location, I'd suspect some type of hosta left from a previous tenant.

Definitely looks like some kind of lady slipper or moccasin plant.. has it been unseasonably warm?

It is indeed! I was updating when you posted--damn, that's a good ID, though, I'd never even HEARD of the things!

I have putty root orchid in the park where I work - very similar, with the bizarre winter leaf, so I saw your picture and immediately knew the ballpark in which to go poking about :)

How cool! I love native orchids; they're so unexpected most of the time. I'd love to see photos of the flowers in summer.

Looks a bit like Cornus canadensis aka Buncheberry Dogwood, but the woodland orchid is the best bet, I think.

Edited at 2013-01-05 06:12 pm (UTC)

I'd go for some Veratrum species myself, but I'm from eastern canada, so the first options that come to my mind are very different @__@;;

It reminded me of a trillium, which if I recall correctly, is related to some of the native orchids, so the identification doesn't surprise me. Pretty leaves.

ETA: Not trillium--that's not what I'm thinking of at all. But it grew in the same habitat as the trilliums that I'm thinking of. And it was a native orchid, but in California.

So basically, I'm completely unhelpful.

Edited at 2013-01-05 06:35 pm (UTC)

I think you are thinking of a calypso orchid, also known as a fairy slipper, which is native to CA and grows in the same habitat as white trilliums. :) I guessed Ursula's (no longer) mystery plant was an orchid, based on the similarity of its leaves to those of the calypso.

That's EXACTLY what I was thinking of! Thanks!

Dude, I'm just proud I got as far as "This is sort of similar to a lady's slipper orchid" on the leaves. For me, that's practically a plant ID level up!

Does a triumphant rustling noise play when you level up your Plant ID skill?

I see you have an answer, but I was going to offer up Lily of the Valley, it looks a lot like those leaves :)

Well. That's interesting, because this horticulture student/plant identification fanatic just learned something that goes against a rule I'd always understood was iron-clad. If a leaf's veins all meet at the tip end of the leaf, then it's supposed to be dogwood family, full stop. Nothing else is supposed to do that.

I should have known better than to believe in an iron-clad rule [g].

(Deleted comment)
If there is a climbing prickly dogwood, it undoubtedly lives around here.

If there's a climbing prickly ANYTHING, I think it lives around here. It's like we can't grow ocotillo because it's too wet, so everything local was assigned a couple extra units of spikiness to fill out the quota.

Actually last I heard a majority of monocots (about 53+k species including, e.g. all grasses and orchids) have veins that "all meet at the tip end of the leaf"...

Well, it sounds harmless enough...

I expect it will have eaten the beagle by this time next week.

Don't go to sleep! They can only get you n your sleep!

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