Monday, May 18, 2009

Showy orchis and ladyslippers!

This past weekend was a two-fer: Saturday we monitored Cypripedium candidum in a high-quality prairie in western Chicagoland, and on Sunday I drove about 150 miles (getting lost twice, unusual for me!) well into farm country to climb a wooded hillside to see Galearis spectabilis on the edge of the slope, in afternoon sun and glorious bloom! This was the first time I had ever seen this particular beauty. 

In many states it is declining quickly, and now I can see why: this particular hillside is rapidly being overtaken by garlic mustard, whose antifungal properties spell doom for the ground-dwelling fungus that nourishes our native orchids. We spoke with the landowner about the joys of orchid conservation and the need for keeping garlic mustard and other invasive species at bay, and will hope they will do the management essential for the orchid's survival. 

The gentleman said there used to be a large colony on his property years ago, but it had disappeared. This is the first one he has seen in many years, probably due to the abundant rains this spring? The floral associates were Virginia creeper, bedstraw, poison ivy (always!), black and white snakeroots, carrion vine, jack-in-the-pulpit, wild grape, clearweed, sweet cicely, and balsam ragwort. It seemed very happy nestled in its bed of white pine needles. The tree diversity was very high there; the woods seemed not to have been logged, in recent memory, anyway. There were white pine, shagbark hickory, American elm, hackberry and black cherry nearby.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

I found you on Whohub - what beautiful work you do! I though I would pop by and say hello!!
Sarah