Cedar Bog State Memorial this morning, with orchids on my mind. If you haven't been to this iconic natural area, do yourself a favor and pay a visit. The nature center above was erected a few years ago, and serves as the gateway to one of the most biologically rich 487 acres in the state of Ohio.
The meadow above is hemmed in by white cedar, or arborvitae, Thuja occidentalis. Normally one must travel much further north, such as where I recently was in northern Michigan, to find cedar swamps. Cedar Bog is a glacial relict; Ohio's only remaining example of a boreal habitat that would have been far more prevalent here thousands of years ago.
But on to the orchids, which are more likely to captivate you.
I probably make it over to Cedar Bog for the blooming of the showy lady's-slippers more years than not, and I believe this is the best that I've ever seen them look. There are seemingly more plants scattered about, and some of the largest are practically shrublike. Exceptional flowering stems can tower to several feet in height. One might guess from the size of the opening in the flower that BIG bugs handle pollination duties. True enough, large bumblebees, beetles, and other insects do enter the flower. But research suggests that it is actually smaller bees that do the majority of successful pollination.
White-tailed deer apparently aren't above sampling lady's-slippers. A browsed leaf and munched off flowering stalk is visible in the lower right corner of the photo. Hopefully the mammals who are bold enough to snack on these orchids pay dearly for their indiscretions. I would hope that the orchid gods also punish any humans foolish and callous enough to dig any of these plants. Harvesters won't keep these finicky orchids alive very long, anyway.
Cedar Bog Association! This dedicated group of volunteers oversees the management and operation of the bog, and that's a lot of work. Membership information is HERE.