Collection location: Lower Trenta Valley, East Julian Alps, Posočje, Slovenia [Click for map]
Habitat: steep mountain slope, southeast aspect; light, old Fagus sylvatica forest; calcareous ground; partly protected from direct rain by tree canopies, elevation 935 m (3.700 feet); average precipitations ~ 3.000 mm/year, average temperature 4-6 deg C, alpine phytogeographical region.
Substratum: soil, among roots and rotting Fagus sylvatica leaves.
Place: Lower Trenta valley, between villages Soča and Trenta, right bank of river Soča, next to the trail from Na Melu place to Planina na skalah; just below it; East Julian Alps, Posočje, Slovenia EC.
Comment: Orthilia secunda is circumpolar, boreal-montane floral element. It is quite inconspicuous, not really a common plant, but also not a rare one in Slovenia. These pictures show it after its small, whitish flowers have already vanished, and only five-chambered seed capsules with the remnants of long pistils remained. Its evergreen habit makes it most conspicuous in winter (if not covered by snow). It is considered threatened species and already extirpated from several states in USA. Orthilia secunda is an ectomycorrhizal plant (one in a symbiotic association between a fungus and the roots of a plant). It is associated among other fungi also with several Tricholomas. Both the genus and species name Orthilia and secunda refer to the strictly one-sided arrangement of its flowers.
Taxonomical history of Orthilia secunda is truly ‘picturesque’. Initially Orthilia secunda together with similar Pyrola species belonged to family Pyrolaceae. The plants were separated from families Monotropaceae and Ericaceae. Later DNA sequencing indicated that Pyrolaceae and Monotropaceae form a single family, in spite of the fact that, from far, they look quite differently and that Pyrolaceae are green and have chlorophyll, while Monotropaceae are parasites without chlorophyll. Today both belong to family Ericaceae and form sub-family Monotropoideae within it. In addition, former genus Pyrola is now divided into three genera: Pyrola, Moneses and Orthilia. There is only one species – Orthilia secunda – present in the genus Orthilia that means it is a monotypic genus. What comes next?
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Created: 2017-08-24 06:16:17 AEST (+1000)
Last modified: 2017-08-24 06:16:23 AEST (+1000)
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