E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Calypso bulbosa (L.) Oakes
Orchidaceae (Orchid family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Rosemary Taylor  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #20534)

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Distribution of Calypso bulbosa
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Species Information

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Perennial herb from fleshy, cylindrical or globe-shaped corms; stems 5-20 cm tall, smooth but with 2 to 4 sheathing bracts.
Single basal, long-stalked, blades elliptical or heart- to egg-shaped, smooth, 3-6.5 cm long, stalks 1-6 cm long.
Inflorescence a single, showy, terminal flower, the flowers variegated with purple, pink, and yellow; sepals and lateral petals alike, magenta with 3 darker veins, narrowly lanceolate, 12-25 mm long; lip slipper-shaped, nodding, pouched, yellowish-purple to reddish-purple, variously spotted or streaked with darker purple, 15-25 mm long, the lower portion with apron, hairy above; hood-like column purplish, 8-11 mm long, widely egg-shaped, arched over pouch.
Capsules, erect, ellipsoid, 2-3 cm long.
Two varieties are found in BC

1. Bristlelike hairs on lips sparse, whitish; lip apron white, mottled or irregularly blotched with purple................... var. occidentalis (Holzinger) Boivin

1. Bristlelike hairs on lips numerous, yellow; lip apron yellowish................ var. americana (R.Br.) Luer

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Dry to moist, mossy forests in the lowland, steppe and montane zones; var. occidentalis - common W of the Coast-Cascade Mountains; var. americana - common E of the Coast-Cascade Mountains; circumpolar; var. occidentalis - N to AK and YT and S to ID and CA, Eurasia; var. americana - N to AK, YT and NT, E to NF and S to ME, VT, MI, WI, MN, SD, NM and AZ.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Calypso bulbosa

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 3 988 1810
Slope Gradient (%) 0 19 205
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 265 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
1 3 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: BWBS(68), CDF(19), CWH(42), ESSF(30), ICH(73), IDF(120), MH(1), MS(78), PP(2), SBPS(22), SBS(119), SWB(2)

Ecological Indicator Information

A shade-tolerant/intolerant, submontane to montane, circumpolar forb (transcontinental in North America). Occurs on moderately dry to fresh, nitrogen-medium soils within montane boreal, cool temperate, and cool mesothermal climates. Rare to occasional (locally abundant on eastern Vancouver Island and Queen Charlotte Islands) in mossy forest understories on water-shedding sites; its occurrence increases with increasing continentality. Characteristic of coniferous forests.

SourceIndicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Information applies to coastal locations only)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References