Adam and Eve, Putty-root – Flowers

(Aplectrum spicatum) Orchid family (A. hyemale of Gray)

Flowers—Dingy yellowish brown and purplish, about 1 in. long, each on a short pedicel, in a few-flowered, loose, bracted raceme 2 to 4 in. long. No spur ; sepals and petals similar, small and narrow, the lip wavy-edged. Scape : 1 to 2 ft. high, smooth, with about 3 sheathing scales. Leaf : Solitary, rising from the corm in autumn, elliptic, broad, plaited-nerved, 4 to 6 in. long. Root : A corm usually attached to one of the preceding season.

Preferred Habitat—Moist woods or swamps.

Flowering Season—May—June.

Distribution—Georgia, Missouri, and California northward, into British Possessions.

More curious than beautiful is this small orchid whose dingy flowers of indefinite color and without spurs interest us far less than the two corms barely hidden below ground. These singular solid bulbs, about an inch thick, are connected by a slender stalk, suggesting to the imaginative person who named the plant our first parents standing hand in hand in the Garden of Eden.

But usually several old corms—not always two, by any means —remain attached to the nearest one, a bulb being produced each year until Cain and Abel often join Adam and Eve to make up quite a family group. A strong, glutinous matter within the corms has been used as a cement, hence the plant’s other popular name. From the newest bulb added, a solitary large leaf arises in late summer or autumn, to remain all winter. The flower stalk comes up at one side of it the following spring. Meantime the old corms retain their life, apparently to help nourish the young one still joined to them, while its system is taxed with flowering.