June 4, 2013

Ohio Orchids 2: The Showy Lady's Slipper

The showy lady's slipper has to be Ohio's most spectacular orchid, perhaps the most spectacular wild orchid in North America. I decided that it deserves its own post, and although there are other orchids that I haven't posted about yet that bloomed earlier I wanted to let people know about it because its peak of bloom is RIGHT NOW! So drop everything and get over to Cedar Bog Nature Preserve just south of Urbana; you won't be sorry!

Here it is in all its glory:

Some were deep pink and others were a bit more pale but still lovely:

Here is a group shot. 

Note the brown structures on the left in the photo above; those are last year's seed capsules from which extremely tiny seeds were dispersed by the wind. Orchid seeds have been found high in the atmosphere; they are virtually weightless and can circulate on the winds until brought down to earth in a water droplet. Each type of orchid has very specific habitat requirements so the likelihood that a particular seed will fall in a suitable place is small. Each plant produces an amazing number of seeds, though, so the plants do manage to propagate themselves.

One final portrait, with an eager pollinator poised to help produce more flowers:

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