Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Great Orchid Hunt 2008

Here is a pretty picture from Wikipedia of Calypso bulbosa, the Calypso Orchid. Also known as Fairy Slipper or Venus's Slipper. I saw these orchids blooming about 30 miles out of town while on a horseback ride 2 years ago and swore to see them again one spring. This past week, some friends from work and I went out to hunt for these elusive and rare creatures....


Corinne and Erin-----Corinne has a Master's in Arctic Biology/Botany, so she brought a HUGE reference book for us to accurately identify anything and everything that we found. Here, Erin found a little prezzie in the roadside weeds....

And gave it to her sister.




This is the culmination of our search----many, many clumps of Calypso orchids in their nascent bloom state. Buds just forming on tiny stalks, they'll be open in a few more days. When I told people that I was going orchid hunting, they all asked how I would dig them up or transplant them. No! I wouldn't even touch them. My approach to orchids is as to something sacred and sacrosanct. I would NEVER dig these up. Also, they die in captivity, so why would I ever kill them with my selfishness? Sometimes, you don't need to have or own a thing to know it is good and beautiful and enjoy the heck out of it. These orchids will be there for years to come if no one disturbs them.


Also along the trail we found and identified many sprouting clumps of Lousewort. Corinne identified it for me as Pedicularis, which I promptly forgot and called it Ridicularis. (It just sounded so Harry Potter....) Oops.


I carefully dug up a clump and brought it home, recognising that I have very similar soil conditions to that which we found it in. Fun! So far (three days later) it's doing well.

I haven't had such a good time in quite awhile. This spring seems to be all work and no play thus far. It was awesome to grub about in the underbrush examining plants and identifying them. Seriously awesome! We're going out again next week to see if we can catch the Calypsos in bloom..... More fun!

4 comments:

Karen Travels said...

Awesome. I don't know jack about plants but I would take any excuse to play in the outdoors and in the dirt!

johnny said...

Wish I could tag along....

When I was at P-land last spring I was lucky enough to see some lady slippers growing on campus...I have a picture somewhere ...I was pretty stoked about that...

AnarchyInTheAK said...

Oh how fun! I need to get a good arctic botanical reference for my summer hikes.

I've been so fascinated by the native plant life up here that I've often thought about ditching all of my other endeavors and becoming a hermit on the tundra, drawing pictures and identifying plants.

Oh, how I romanticize things.

Rachel

Erin said...

That was a great expedition. I liked reading your documentation of it. Let me know if you have other fun exploration ideas. There is always berry picking in a little bit...