Monday, July 31, 2017

Another Bog, Lots More Orchids

Recently, a friend suggested we go look for flowers in the woods. Nah, I said, there's not much happening in the woods right now, just mushrooms and mosquitoes.  And that's pretty much the case.  This is the season for sun-lovers, mostly, for flowers that bloom in the light along rivers and ponds, or sprout from the cracks in the sidewalks, or grow by the thousands in open meadows or along the side of the road.  And oh yes, out in the bogs!

I went to another bog today, this one a classic peat bog thick with spongey wet sphagnum moss,  studded with Tamaracks and Black Spruce, and thick with skin-scratching shrubs like Leatherleaf, Laurel, and Huckleberry.  (Please don't ask me how to get there.  I'm sworn to secrecy about this bog's location, because it's on private land.)

Now, why would I want to endure the discomforts of making my way through such an unaccommodating place (especially on a hot muggy day like today)?  Well, the short answer is:  it's ORCHID season!  Specifically, it's the time of year when the White Fringed Orchids (Platanthera blephariglottis) bloom in amazing profusion when they find a place they like.  And they certainly like this bog!    I only explored a small portion of it today, and I counted over 75 in full glorious bloom.

I'm sure there were even more, hidden among the shrubs, like this duo I missed until I peered over the top of that baby Black Spruce.

Most of the orchids were in full bloom, with florets even starting to fade at the bottom of the inflorescences, but here and there I found a few with some buds that were yet to open.

As happy as I was to see all those orchids, I really wasn't surprised to find them there.  They're big and showy, after all, and truly hard to miss when they're in bloom.  But here was a flower I'm always surprised to find: the tiny greenish-flowered Yellow Bartonia (Bartonia virginica).

I know they're supposed to grow in here, because I have found them before.  But it's always only by accident I happen to see them.  They're very small, almost as fine as the grass they hide among, and their tiny yellowish flowers barely peek out from among their green bracts.  I had actually given up on finding them today and was making my way to where I could exit the bog, when --Voila!  A stray ray of sunlight happened to pick out their spindly shapes against some shadows.  A nice little treat to cap off my bog excursion.

There were other treats, too.  Like finding a single blooming stem of one other orchid, the Grass Pink (Calopogon tuberosus).  When a friend and I were here nearly a month ago, we found over a hundred of these gorgeous orchids in bloom, but I had already given up hope of seeing any today. And then I found this one.  Only one, in all the area I explored.

I found one other brightly-colored flower, called Water Willow or Swamp Loosestrife (Decodon verticillatus), which in some ways was a bit surprising to find in a bog.  I see this native perennial wildflower quite often along lake-shores and streams, so it doesn't really require the acidic habitat of a sphagnum bog. But I was glad to see it blooming here.

Here's one more thing I was REALLY glad to see: Black Huckleberries (Gaylussacia baccata) that were absolutely laden with fruit.   These berries were so big and ripe I could just reach out and tap the twigs, and the berries fell into my hand.  I made a kind of basket from my bandana and spent a happy half-hour gathering enough to take home for my husband, devouring quite a few as I went along.  Don't they look good enough to eat?  Indeed, they were!


Uta said...

What a wonderful trip you had again. The little orchid is just beautiful and I can just taste the huckleberries in my mouth yum.

The Furry Gnome said...

Been a long time since I had a good walk theough a bog!

Woody Meristem said...

Bogs are special places. Looks like your camera, like mine, has trouble with accurate color rendition of Calapogon. Mine also has difficulty with fringed polygala -- oh for the the color fidelity of Kodachrome.

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Thanks for your comments, dear friends. I love knowing you enjoy coming along with me on my nature adventures. Regarding Woody's comment about how my camera renders certain colors, he is absolutely right. The vivid pinks of flowers like Calopogon and Fringed Polygala always come out much bluer than the real color. I think there is a way to customize the colors, using the camera options, but I have never explored those options.

threecollie said...

My camera won't read reds for beans and I have never figured out how to fix it...alas....Love those berries on the rare occasions when we find them.