Friday, May 21, 2010

Ram's-head Orchid

Today we entered a true botanical paradise; a land of eflin flora and rare specialists. Hard on the shore of Lake Huron, not far from Roger's City in Presque Isle County, Michigan, is some of the coolest habit on the Great Lakes. Limestone pavement juts to the surface in places, forming alvars. In between are cool, wet cedar and spruce swamps and everywhere there are interesting plants.

We saw far too many things to list right now, but below is one of the coolest of today's finds.

Ram's-head Orchid, Cypripedium arietinum. One of our smallest orchids, this lady's-slipper can be devilishly hard to spot in the gloom of the wet boreal forests that it inhabits. They apparently are not common here, and we found but two plants. I had a vibe about some particularly interesting habitat, and dropped into the woods and found these plants.

What a treat. This was a life orchid for me, and so it will be for the rest of the group when we take them to have a peek. Yellow Lady's-slipper, Cypripedium parviflorum, will not be such a challenge - it is literally a roadside weed in this area and we saw hundreds.