Skip to main content

Purple Fringed Orchid

A mountainside road, scaling the heights of a high peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Lots of stuff to see on such a drive, but my eye was grabbed by a quick flash of purple in the ditch...

Excellent! Purple fringed orchid, Platanthera pyscodes, a plant I had not seen for a number of years. It's quite the rarity in Ohio, where it is considered threatened and known from but a few sites. These plants were whoppers as well, towering to about two feet in height.

To be technical, I should probably call this one small purple fringed orchid, to distinguish it from the extremely similar large purple fringed orchid, P. grandiflora. Unless you have firsthand experience with both of these closely allied species, you're going to struggle to figure out which one you've got. Some authorities have submerged the latter into the former, and just give grandiflora a varietal rank - Platanthera psycodes var. grandiflora.

The purple fringed orchids are, beyond any shadow of a doubt, among the most beautiful of North American orchids. The lacerated or fringed flowers are works of art, and the color is nearly shocking. Anyone would be impressed. I hope you get to see this plant sometime, if you've not already.


A.L. Gibson said…
Great post, Jim! I just saw this in full bloom at Cedar Bog over the weekend. I found two stalks, one a bit over two feet tall just 10-15 feet off the boardwalk in the swamp woods area. After showing Eric and talking with him he said he'd never in all his years at the fen seen it come up in that spot. You couldn't be more right about their beauty.

P.S. the Platanthera leucophaea are in bloom as well not too far from Cedar Bog if you haven't seen them yet this year :)

Popular posts from this blog

The Pinching Beetle, a rather brutish looking bug

The world is awash in beetles, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Few of them can match the intimidation factor of a Pinching Beetle, Lucanus capreolus, though. Those formidable looking mandibles look like they could slice off a finger.

Today was one of those coolly diverse days. I started off down in Fayette County, visiting the farm of a friend. He has restored about 25 acres of wetlands, and the response by the animal community has been nothing short of phenomenal. Blizzards of dragonflies of many species, amphibians galore, and nesting Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, and Sora. Among MANY other things. And all in a short two years. Add water and they will come.

Then, working my way home, I ducked into a Madison County cemetery that has a thriving population of Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels, and shot images of our native prairie dog. Then, I stopped at a spot along Little Darby Creek, waded on in, and procured some pretty nice shots of various stream bluets and dancers. …

Calliope Hummingbird in central Ohio!

A hatch-year male Calliope Hummingbird strikes a pose. Small but tough, the hummingbird was feeding actively yesterday in 39 F temperatures. It frequents feeders and gardens at a home in Delaware County, Ohio, about a half-hour north of Columbus.

Fortunately, the wayward hummer appeared at the home of Tania and Corey Perry. Tania is a birder, and knew right away that the hummingbird was something special. For a while, the identification was up in the air, which isn't surprising. The Calliope Hummingbird used to be placed in its own genus, Stellula, but has recently been submerged into the genus Selasphorus, which includes Allen's, Broad-tailed, and Rufous hummingbirds. The latter two, especially, are quite similar to the Calliope in subadult plumage. Rufous is the default "vagrant" hummingbird here, with dozens of records and birds turning up annually. There is but one Ohio record of Allen's Hummingbird, from late fall/early winter 2009. Ditto the Calliope Hummi…

Ballooning spiders

Fear not, ye arachnophobes. The subject of this entry is indeed about spiders, but the star of the show is about as cute as a spider can get. And you'll want to know what we're about to learn...

On my recent West Virginia foray, we were strolling down a seldom-used lane, when a bright yellow object caught our eye. It was a goldenrod crab spider, Misumena vatia, on top of a post! Not only that, she - it is a girl - was acting extraordinarily goofy. The spider would stilt up as high as she could go on her legs, weave back and forth, jig side to side, and otherwise engage in what appeared to be spider break-dancing.

Click the pic for expansion, and you can see two columns of silk issuing from her spinnerets. This is an important point, as we set about determining what this non-web-making spider is doing.

So fixated was our spider on her task that she even rejected what would seem to me to be a perfectly scrumptious meal. This little caterpillar climbed rapidly up the post and dire…