Friday, June 10, 2016

An Extravagance Of Wild Orchids - Part 1

The dogs and I had just finished a walk in the Walter F. Pratt Forest (see previous two posts) and were headed out on the access road to return home when I saw a clearing which led into a pine forest. I recognized it as prime country for Pink Ladyslippers, our native wild orchid. So I stopped the car and let the dogs out again:

I hadn't gone 25 feet when I saw the first Pink Ladyslipper in bloom:

I knew there must be more, so we walked on:

Once I'd spotted the first one, I began seeing many, perhaps hundreds, more. They were abundant wherever the sun reached through the trees to the sandy, pine needle covered ground below:

The dogs didn't care about flowers. They were on a second adventure in a single day and were overjoyed to be running in the forest:

My next quandary was what on earth to do with so many photos of one kind of wildflower. I decided that Pink Ladyslippers were a special case and I would use as many as came out good enough, interspersed with photos of the dogs at play:

The dogs explored into a stand of White Pine saplings:

In order to survive and reproduce, Pink Ladyslipper interacts with a fungus in the soil. Generally, orchid seeds do not have food supplies inside them like most other kinds of seeds. Pink Ladyslipper seeds require threads of the fungus to break open the seed and attach them to it. The fungus will provide food and nutrients to the Pink Ladyslipper seed. When the orchid plant is older and producing most of its own nutrients, the fungus will extract nutrients from the its roots.

The dogs were having a grand time:

And I kept finding more flowers. Pink Ladyslippers require bees for pollination. Bees are lured into the flower pouch through the front slit, attracted by the flower’s bright color and sweet scent. Once inside, the bees find no reward, and discover that they are trapped, with only one point of escape. Inside the pouch, there are hairs that lead to a pair of exit openings, one beneath each pollen mass. The bee must pass under the stigma (which produces pollen), so if it bears any pollen from a visit to another flower, it will be deposited before picking up a fresh load of pollen on the way out:

It was a beautiful setting and the forest smelled like pine (for obvious reasons). It reminded me of the forests in Oregon when I was a boy:

I was finding many Ladyslippers, sometimes called Moccasin Flowers, so I kept walking and snapping pictures. I'll post Part 2 tomorrow:

No comments:

Post a Comment