Look-alikes: examples

One funny thing about Pyrola picta is that it co-occurs in most parts of its range with at least a couple of look-alikes! In fact, when looking for P. picta on past excursions, I’ve used the presence of these look-alike species as an indication that I’m getting hotter! Can you tell which of the images below is the real P. picta and which are the fakers?

look-alikesIf you guessed (C), you are right! Other species that can be confused with P. picta are Goodyera oblongifolia (Orchidaceae), a terrestrial orchid species shown in (A) with heavy white mottling and (B) with less white along its veins. The common name for G. oblongifolia is ‘rattlesnake plantain’, I assume because the pattern along the primary vein is reminiscent of a rattler! Another species that is easily confused with P. picta, especially prior to flowering, is Chimaphila menziesii (D); common name ‘little prince’s pine’). This species is more closely related to Pyrola, but can be distinguished prior to flowering by the presence of cauline leaves. When the flowers eventually bloom, it is easy to differentiate from any Pyrola, but many plant collectors have mis-identified this little gem because its leaves often have vivid, white veins. Have fun telling these apart!

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