Tuesday, May 12, 2009

100 Species Challenge #53

Showy Orchis

Orchis spectabilis or
Galearis spectabilis (L.) Raf.

From Steven's Point:
Galearis: "helmetlike," referring to the hood over the column
spectabilis: spectacular or showy

Photo by me, Jester Park

My first orchid! As a young girl, I would look at field guides like a shopping catalog. I always hoped to see a Lady's Slipper. This flower is the closest I've gotten. A showy orchis. I feel lucky to spot any ephemerals, and I think the moral of the story is to go out and look! Just like geocaching, I hope to log more finds. Well, you have to go out and look!

I saw two of these on the same east-facing slope -- I spotted the first one, a friend's daughter found the second.

Showy orchis is native to North America. Like all ephemerals, it blooms during the springtime for a short period of time. It attracts insects to crawl in and out of its elaborate corolla to find nectar. In doing so, the plant is pollinated.

We also found a clump of six morel mushrooms, another first! I didn't even think to look for mushrooms until I was about ready to return to the trailhead.

Lesson learned from friends: Poison ivy is everywhere; talk about it and check for understanding before you leave the trailhead. For all you hikers and geocachers out there, make sure you look before you grab a tree trunk for stability. I love steep, difficult terrain, so I understand the desire for stability. But if you see a vine with a lot of hairs on it, that is poison ivy! Grab another tree! And of course, stay away from shiny leaves of three.

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