A Two Year Population Ecology Study of Puttyroot Orchid (Aplectrum hyemale (Muhl. ex Willd.) Torr.) in Central Indiana
Aplectrum hyemale, puttyroot orchid, is a terrestrial, winter perennial found in rich, mesic forests throughout the Midwest as well as in Hougham Woods Biological Field Station (HWBFS) near Franklin in Johnson County, Indiana. This orchid overwinters as a single basal leaf that may produce a flowering shoot in spring. The size of the Aplectrum population at HWBFS remained relatively stable with 305 to 311 individuals during this 2012-2013 study. Only 2.9% of the plants flowered and only one plant produced fruits in 2012. No flowering or fruiting occurred in 2013. Plants that produced flowering shoots had basal leaves that were larger than the vegetative plants. However, basal leaf size was not correlated with the number of flowers per plant. It appears that weather, including the unusually warm spring and summer drought in 2012 and the dry spring in 2013, affected phenology and reproduction of Aplectrum.