Sunday, May 22, 2022

Wild Orchids


Pink lady's slipper orchids, Cypripedium acaule, bloom in the New Jersey pine barrens from early May to mid-June. Right now! Here are some I found this week. Kind of pretty and creepy looking at the same time, right? Click to enlarge.

The lady's slipper flower smells good to bees and the big pouch has a slit in the front that allows a bee to enter. Once inside, hairs direct the bee to an upper exit that requires squeezing past a pollen mass. Tricky!

They grow in association with a fungus that enables germination and provides nutrients to the plant. After the plant is established it provides nutrients to the fungus, in turn.

Joseph Pullman Porter wrote a poem called Wild Orchids that begins: 

Under the pines, near the murmuring brook,
I know the wild orchids grow, 
Fair and pure in their shady nook... 

Exactly describing the spot where I found this orchid. Brook, shady nook, and all.

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