Wednesday, July 10, 2013
It's Orchid Season on the Bog!
Mid-July means it's time for orchids to bloom in one of our favorite bogs, so my friend Sue and I dodged the thunderstorms today to go looking for them. And we sure weren't disappointed! We had barely stepped through the hedge and onto the sphagnum mat when dozens of bright pink Grass Pinks (Calopogon tuberosus) caught our eye.
We just couldn't stop taking photos of them, so brilliantly colored they were and so profuse in their blooms. Many, if not most, of New York's 60 or so native species of orchids are really quite modest in their display, but that certainly can't be said of the gorgeous Calopogon.
We next started searching for another almost equally showy orchid known to bloom in this same bog, the White Fringed Orchid (Platanthera blephariglottis), and we didn't have to go far before we spied tall stalks of ripening buds.
A brief search revealed just a single plant in fully open, snowy-white bloom. Breathtaking!
A closer look reveals the fringed lower lip for which this orchid got its common name. Its specific name in Latin means "tongue with eyelashes," and I would say that's a pretty apt description, too.
With so many of the White Fringed Orchids still in bud, we agreed that a return trip in a week or so would certainly be rewarding. In more ways than one, since I expect that lots more Highbush Blueberries will be ripe by then, as well. There were lots of ripening Huckleberries, too.
I doubt that these Large Cranberries, though, will be ripe in only a week. Such a pretty apple-green color!
I'm sure most folks would be impressed by the orchids, but I wonder how many would even notice the tiny little Centaury (Centaurium erythraea) hiding in the grass by the side of the road. Despite its brilliant color and its habit of growing in masses, this wee little alien weed mostly goes unseen because of its diminutive size. Since I know where it grows, I seek it out to admire its dainty beauty and vivid color.
Long-time readers of this blog will already know how much I love the common roadside weeds, and when it comes to Common Milkweed, it's obvious I'm not alone in my appreciation of this sturdy native plant. There were dozens of these brightly colored Red Milkweed Beetles (Tetraopes tetraophthalmus) scurrying around the milkweed plants today. Even if you don't know Latin, you might guess that its specific name has something to do with eyes (as in ophthalmologist), and it's true that this beetle has very interesting eyes, with its antennae poking out from the middle of them. Yikes!
Growing alongside the milkweed was another very common roadside flower, Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota). Whenever I pass a patch of this really quite beautiful flower, I stop to observe what insect life might be occurring among its white florets. Today there were dozens of very tiny black flies feeding on the blooms, and then suddenly there came zooming in this striped hoverfly, appearing gigantic in comparison to the tiny flies, although the hoverfly was itself less than half an inch long.
A quite dramatic contrast!