Friday, June 18, 2010

A Celebration of Orchids

A few years ago, my husband had gone to Paris and a friend asked me why I hadn't gone with him. "Oh, I've been to Paris and I don't need to go there again" I answered, explaining that I'd rather stay home and hunt for wildflowers. Then I added, "If someone could show me where Showy Lady's Slippers grow, that would be worth the trip!" Well, folks, today someone did show me where Showy Lady's Slippers grow, and it was, indeed, worth the trip. I'm sworn to secrecy about the location, but I will let on that I traveled over a hundred miles (round trip) to see them. Or rather, to see just one. And my, it was beautiful!

It was quite a day for orchids, in fact. That Lady's Slipper was the showiest, no doubt, but my friends and I found several more. First, when Ellen and I stopped along the Ice Meadows just north of Warrensburg, we stumbled across a Tubercled Orchis hidden among the grasses along the Hudson. Its greenish-yellow flowers were too small for my naked eyes to see, but my macro lens managed to capture some detail.

We also found the small orchid called Wide-leaved Ladies' Tresses growing there among marble rocks. This is the earliest Ladie's Tresses to be found, and one of the details that sets it apart is its yellow lower lip.

Later on, in the fen where the Showies were growing, we found this Northern Green Orchis. Its flowers are just as green as its leaves, and because it was growing in very deep shade, it was hard to photograph with my pocket camera.

That same boggy woods was a treasure trove of pyrolas of many species. The first one we found was One-flowered Pyrola, scattered like stars across the forest floor. Some little pink Twinflower made it into the photo, as well.

One-flowered Pyrola hangs face-down, so you have to lie low to see the detail of its flower.

One-sided Pyrola grew abundantly there in the mossier spots.

And so did lovely Pink Pyrola, the tallest and showiest of all.

The Cottongrass we found in the shadowy fen is a different species than that which grows out on the sunny Ice Meadows. I don't know the name of the one we found today. It was certainly furry!

I was surprised to see the pretty blue speedwell called American Brooklime growing in such deep shade, since I usually find it where streams run through open marshes.

So all in all, this was a very special day for a wildflower-obsessed person like me. I'm recalling that phrase, "See Paris and die," but I'm substituting "Showy Lady's Slippers" for the word "Paris." Not that I'm ready to die. But it did seem today that I got to go to wildflower Heaven.

P.S. To get some idea of just how special these flower finds were, go to the USDA plant data site and type in the name of any one of them. There you will see how many are on endangered species lists in many, many states. Including New York.


Ellen Rathbone said...

>sigh< Once more your photos surpass mine, which are mostly washed out or over exposed. You have some wonderful shots here, Jackie! Thanks for a great day of browsing!

Wayne said...

Wow, what wonderful day you had! And a great year for the Lady's Slippers! A SHOWY -- I am amazed. Your joy and your photographs warm my heart. I particularly like your down-low shot of the One-flowered Pyrola.

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Oh Ellen, you must be SO disappointed! The opportunity to photograph such rarities comes along so seldom. I can't believe I lucked out on these, since it was either dark, dark shade or overbright shafts of sunlight. I took dozens and dozens of shots and threw away all but these. But what a day for rare plants! Plus lots of fun with good friends like you.

Hi Wayne, so good to hear from you. Thanks for your kind words. And yes, you should be amazed by the Showy LS., since they're getting so rare. I'm mighty lucky to have a friend who will show them to me.