Sunday, May 26, 2024

Memorial Day 2024

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: 
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them."
from For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Pink Lady's Slipper Orchids


My search for wild pink lady's slipper orchids in the New Jersey Pine Barrens has paid off.

Behold! Click to enlarge.

Pink lady's slippers are also called moccasin flowers, American valerian, and squirrel shoes.

Like many orchids, the pink lady's slipper has a mutually beneficial relationship with a fungus. The fungus provides nutrients to the plant's seeds and helps them germinate. When the plant becomes photosynthetic, it provides nutrients to the fungus. Fair deal.

Bees pollinate the flowers, but receive no reward. They are attracted to the color and the sweet aroma of the flower. They expect nectar. But when a bee enters the flower pouch through the slit in the front, not only is there no nectar -- it can't back out. To reach an exit, it has to squeeze past the flower's female reproductive structure, the stigma. If the bee has been inside other blossoms, pollen on its body is deposited on the stigma, pollinating it. The bee also has to squeeze past a pollen mass, where it receives a new dusting of pollen to carry to the next flower. Tricky!

According to the U.S. Forest Service, a pink lady's slipper orchid plant can live for 20 years or more. They are unlikely to survive transplanting.

Pink lady's slipper are blooming now through mid-June in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Get out there and find them. 

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Happy Mother's Day


A patient great egret with three feisty chicks. Click to enlarge.


Sunday, May 5, 2024

Still Looking for Pink Lady's Slippers


I spent another day in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, looking for wild pink lady's slipper orchids. According to the New Jersey Pinelands Commission's orchid blooming schedule, the flowers can be found from early May to mid-June. I was on the job on May 1.

I love when clouds reflect in the ponds like this. 

There were lots of pretty things to see, like these red maple seeds. Click to enlarge. 

I can report that purple pitcher plants are growing new insect-trapping pitchers.

And sundew plants are pushing up through the mud. Note the shiny drops of sticky "dew," ready to trap hapless insects. I can attest that the insects are out. But what about the pink lady's slipper orchids? The thing I went there to find?

Behold! I found several. But... they all were all newly sprouted like the one above, all with their slippers wrapped in green. Not pink lady's slippers -- green ones!

So, I did not quite find what I was looking for. I think one more trip to the pines will do it.