Walk the trails of Del Monte Forest this summer, and you may find a wild orchid in bloom under the Monterey pines. The one you’re most likely to see is Yadon’s rein-orchid (Piperia yadonii). It’s named after Vern Yadon, a botanist, Director Emeritus of the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, and also member of the Forest Open Space Advisory Committee.
Examples of this endangered plant can now be found here at the Museum in our Native Plant garden.
Be cautioned, however, that you should count yourself lucky if you do see this orchid in flower. Only about 10% or fewer of the plants actually bloom in a given year. (It’s time to forgive yourself for not being able to get your commercial orchid to re-bloom.)
Like other orchids, Yadon’s rein-orchids grow from underground tubers. After the winter rains, some tubers push up one or two strap-shaped leaves above ground.
Then in the summer-time, the leaves wither and an even smaller subset sends up a single flowering stalk. The stalk may reach 30 inches tall and is packed with over 50 individual flowers.
At first glance, the flowers don’t look like orchids. But look more closely, and you’ll see six petals and sepals, divided with bilateral symmetry. On Yadon’s rein-orchid the upper three are white and green, while the lower are white. Look for the flowers from mid-June to August. Its fruits mature from August to early October.