Mapping Species Distributions


Giant helleborine (Epipactis gigantea), photo by Ian Gardiner

More than 40 taxa of wild orchids have now been reported for British Columbia, including lady's slipper orchids, rein orchids, bog orchids, twayblades, helleborines, and the ever elusive phantom orchid (Cephalanthera austiniae), a mycoheterotrophic species. Our orchid flora recently expanded by one species, with the 2007 discovery of Ute ladies' tresses (Spiranthes diluvialis) in the Okanagan Valley.

Our wild orchids inhabit a variety of habitat types from bogs and fens to dry or moist open forests. Look for the fragrant white rein orchid along the shoreline meadows that border the Fraser River, or look for hooded ladies' tresses in the meadows on Grouse Mountain, or the low dune meadows at Boundary Bay Regional Park. Or search for the introduced helleborine in shady woods in the southwestern corner of the province.

A list of the orchid taxa found in BC is presented below. This list follows the BC Conservation Data Centre official listings for the province, and includes recognized varieties for a few species.

The Wild Orchids of British Columbia -- A Mini Photo Gallery

Round-leaved Orchid (Amerorchis rotundifolia), photo by Jim Riley Yellow lady's slipper (Cypripedium parviflorum), photo by Alan Carson Northern green bog orchid (Platanthera hyperborea), photo by Gerald and Irmgard Carter
Loesel's liparis (Liparis loeselii), photo by David McAdoo Fairy slipper (Calypso bulbosa), photo by Gary Lewis Fragrant white rein orchid (Platanthera dilatata), photo by Jim Riley

Orchid Species of British Columbia

Latin name Common name
Amerorchis rotundifolia round-leaved orchis

Calypso bulbosa 2 subspecies present
variety americana
variety occidentalis

fairy slipper
Cephalanthera austiniae phantom orchid
Coeloglossum viride var. virescens
long-bracted frog orchid
Corallorhiza maculata spotted coralroot
Corallorhiza mertensiana western coralroot
Corallorhiza striata var. striata striped coralroot
Corallorhiza trifida yellow coralroot
Cypripedium montanum mountain lady's slipper

Cypripedium parviflorum
variety makasin
variety pubescens

yellow lady's slipper
Cypripedium passerinum sparrow's-egg lady's slipper
Epipactis gigantea giant helleborine
Epipactis helleborine helleborine
Goodyera oblongifolia rattlesnake plantain
Goodyera repens dwarf rattlesnake plantain
Liparis loeselii Loesel's liparis
Listera borealis northern twayblade
Listera caurina northwestern twayblade
Listera convallarioides broad-leaved twayblade
Listera cordata heart-leaved twayblade
Malaxis brachypoda white adder's mouth orchid
Malaxis diphyllos Aleutian adder's mouth orchid
Malaxis paludosa bog adder's mouth orchid
Piperia candida white lip rein orchid
Piperia elegans seaside rein-orchid
Piperia elongata tall rein orchid
Piperia transversa royal rein orchid
Piperia unalascensis Alaska rein orchid
Platanthera aquilonis northern green rein orchid
Platanthera chorisiana Chamisso's rein orchid

Platanthera dilatata
variety albiflora
variety dilatata
variety leucostachys

fragrant white rein orchid
Platanthera dilatata var. dilatata fragrant white rein orchid
Platanthera dilatata var. leuchostachys fragrant white rein orchid
Platanthera huronensis green bog orchid
Platanthera obtusata one-leaved bog orchid
Platanthera orbiculata large round-leaved rein orchid
Platanthera stricta slender rein orchid
Spiranthes diluvialis Ute ladies' tresses
Spiranthes romanzoffiana hooded ladies' tresses


A Few Orchid links

Vancouver Orchid Society
Central Vancouver Island Orchid Society
American Orchid Society
Native Orchids of North America Links

Key References

Douglas, George W., Del Meidinger and Jenifer Penny.  2002. Rare Native Vascular Plants of British Columbia.  Province of British Columbia.  Victoria. 

Luer, Carlyle A.  1975.  The Native Orchids of the United States and Canada Excluding Florida.  The New York Botanical Garden. 

Szczawinski, A.F. (1969). The Orchids of British Columbia (Handbook No. 16, 2nd ed.). Victoria, BC: British Columbia Provincial Museum, Dept. of Recreation and Conservation. 

Williams, John G. & Andrew E. Williams. 1983. Field Guide to Orchids of North America.  Universe Books.



Recommended citation:  Author, date, page title. In: Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2023. E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia []. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Date Accessed]

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