|the "Whitewood Orchid"|
Orchids of Northwestern Ontarioby r.a. kukkee
Here at Incoming Bytes sometimes it seems even the very concept of exotic flowers must belong elsewhere. We couldn't be more wrong-- Mother Nature is amazing, isn't she?
Admittedly, tender blossoms and the plants they are borne upon do not usually survive 'our kind' of extreme weather. In the flower gardens we tend to stick with the tried and true, the indestructible black-eyed Susans, Sweet Williams, Coneflowers, marigolds, and wild daisies.
By contrast, delicate tea roses and orchids are perceived to be humid warm-climate plants, heated greenhouse specialties that are "out of the question" or 'impossible' .
It really would not be surprising if flowers complained of off-season temperatures of -40F -- not uncommon in Northwestern Ontario for a couple of weeks or more in the long winter.
Does location make it impossible to have exotics? No. Even in the wilds, the common " Pink Lady Slipper", a beautiful, delicate orchid, survives in Northwestern Ontario.
We fearlessly like to believe think nothing is impossible if you look in the right places at the right time. It becomes more complicated when we realize that some orchids only blossom every few years--and under specific conditions. Is that why we don't easily spot them?
I have found three specific flowers that offer unique characteristics that are reminiscent of orchids.
Check this out! I found this flower 3 years ago, and at that time I had never seen it in this locality.
I tentatively called it the Whitewood Orchid- simply because there is no better name for this beautiful, and exotic, perhaps even rare flower.
The small, creamy-white, less than half-inch blossoms spring from individual bracts hosted by a single, tall flower stalk that bolts and grows from three or four leaves on the forest floor in a semi-shaded environs. The habit and presentation of this flower is similar to that of the common Phalaenopsis orchid. The main flower spike varies from 7-10" tall with individual plants depending on location. Note the single, tall flower spike and elongated leaves. It is a beauty, is it not?
I made a new discovery this year--another orchid-like flower that has never been seen in previous years . We have lived here for 33 years and have never seen this species before. I wonder if the warmer summers have something to do with it? Check this beauty out!
I have tentatively called this one the Whitewood Pink-fringed Orchid. You can see why . The flower is similar to the Whitewood orchid, but pink-fringed--and it has completely different leaves.
|Pink-Fringed Whitewood Orchid|
And yes, it is small. Very small. The blooms are only about half as big as the "Whitewood Orchid" and the evidence is fleeting. Check this out! Look what we caught in the act, eating the evidence.
Now we know who eats this beautiful flower. It must taste good. The tiny beetle dining at the top of the spike in the photo below is about 1/16" long.Bon appetite! Would you like fries with that?
|Pink-Fringed Whitewood Orchid with beetle|
Unfortunately, this one and only blooming specimen was trampled and broken by bunnies or Yogi bear between the time I first discovered it and got back to photograph it an hour later.
I was very fortunate to be able to find the remains of the flower spike in the detritus---enough to photograph, with a couple of blossoms.
The leaves of this variety are distinctively rounded. There are also a couple missing!
There were three or four leaves the same size as the largest one in this picture when this plant was still intact. See? There are also a couple of immature plant specimens close by.
Hopefully they will blossom next year.
|Leaves of the Whitewood Pink-Fringed Orchid ( Note the mature big leaf and immature specimens)|
As small as that unusual flower is, in 2010 I discovered one even smaller.
I called it the "Red-stemmed Spotted Orchid" because --you got it, it is spotted. The blooms are between 1/8" and 3/16" across. Very tiny, but exotic, aren't they? It was very difficult to get this macro photo.
|Whitewood Red-Stemmed Spotted Orchid|
2010 was the first time we had ever seen this tiny, beautiful and unusual spotted flower as well.
The three stalks were carefully guarded in this location until they faded away naturally, hopefully to feed and preserve the plants.
|Three individual specimens of Red-stemmed spotted Orchids-- carefully guarded|
Interestingly, about 20 years ago, an Indian Pipe, the Ghost orchid was found about 40 feet from this location, but has not bloomed since that time. Fascinated by exotic flowers, we've been watching for it to return, but to no avail. Yet, that is.
*unfortunately, my difficult, miserable and uncooperative internet system has not allowed me to find and add photos of the Pink lady-slipper or the "Indian Pipe" at time of posting.
Well, that just about does it for orchid-like flowers in this neck of the woods. I hope you liked them! We're always on the lookout for new ones!
Have you discovered any indigenous wild orchids where you live?
Is that incoming I hear?
Photos by r.a.kukkee (c) 2012