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Cypripedium acaule - watch with me

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KyushuCalanthe

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Xiphius, lovely little colony. I remember seeing places just like this in the woods of southern NY as a kid. You can't help but feel like you're in special company when they are in bloom.

Phred, nice cultivation of this not so easy species. That said, I'd eat my hat if that multi-leafed guy is a true acaule. Me suspects there's a infiltrator in your midst - perhaps a different species like reginae, or perhaps even a hybrid. Where'd you get the seed/seedlings?
 

Phred

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The thought that this multi-leaf plant might not be acaule is an interesting though. There are photos of acaule on line with more than two leaves. How likely would another species survive several years being watered with 3oz. apple cider vinegar to a gallon?
 
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Beautiful colony!

I have been following a colony in NW Connecticut since 2002 that is spread out over about 2 acres of the last remnant of virgin white pines in CT and one of the few in New England. The area was too remote for the king's mast cutters to get up to and managed to avoid the colonists burning all the large "mast trees" as was done in so much of NE at the time of the Revolutionary War. The colony currently is about 450 blooming plants (I count them at Memorial Day every year when they are all blooming), and count pods in mid-September. Such colonies are beautiful sites. As was noted above, pollination rates are generally well below 10% in "my" colony and around 3-5% most years. Twice there have been no pods in September. Curiously, one year it was more than 90% across the entire colony; must have been an explosion of young bumblebees that year unless someone had a lot of time on their hands and hand-pollenated hundreds of flowers. Often, for several years there will be very few new young plants, but every 6-10 years a good-sized crop appears.

I have done artificial pollination experiments at one edge of the colony (that is where the darkest, richest wine-colored flowers are) and find pollination success at 100%. In that small area, the second year after my artificial pollination, there are hundreds of new plants. That area is now densely covered with blooming plants. I haven't done any artificial pollination for a number of years now and the density has slowly decreased but is still far above the main colony with many nice, mature plants. Interestingly, about 7 years ago a distant part of the colony began to show some of the very dark-colored flowers. Perhaps a high Fall wind blew some seed in that direction. The dark-colored flowers have since become steadily more common in that area.

I have tried pots without much long-term success. Our house is on a property that has 3 acres of pine and hemlock forest. It had a very few acaule when we moved in. I took the seed from an opened pod of the very colorfully flowered specimens that I follow and spread them around. Now I have quite a few dark wine-red flowered plants. A Cyp enthusiast in Germany received some seed from me quite a while back and 3 years later sent photos of nicely-flowering plants he had grown. I asked him how he did it and he said he had just spread the seed in a small patch of white pines on his property. I asked him what species the pines were and he wrote back the same species as ours in CT. I was surprised but he responded that after WWII many white pines were planted to replace the trees lost in the bombings.

The above illustrates how fast acaule mature in the wild. In the colony I observe most of the new seedlings bloom the second year they are up and nearly all the third year.

Like in the images above, some of the old plants (old in the sense that I have seen them every year since 2002) have developed multiple leaves. Many older plants, like those in Xiphius' images of his lower section, have also developed multiple pairs of leaves from a single rhizome as they have matured.
 

xiphius

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Phred, nice cultivation of this not so easy species. That said, I'd eat my hat if that multi-leafed guy is a true acaule. Me suspects there's a infiltrator in your midst - perhaps a different species like reginae, or perhaps even a hybrid. Where'd you get the seed/seedlings?
Interesting. I had thought that they could have more than two leaves, it just wasn't common. At any rate, keep us posted Phred, now I want to know what that plant actually is!
 

xiphius

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Beautiful colony!

I have been following a colony in NW Connecticut since 2002 that is spread out over about 2 acres of the last remnant of virgin white pines in CT and one of the few in New England. The area was too remote for the king's mast cutters to get up to and managed to avoid the colonists burning all the large "mast trees" as was done in so much of NE at the time of the Revolutionary War. The colony currently is about 450 blooming plants (I count them at Memorial Day every year when they are all blooming), and count pods in mid-September. Such colonies are beautiful sites. As was noted above, pollination rates are generally well below 10% in "my" colony and around 3-5% most years. Twice there have been no pods in September. Curiously, one year it was more than 90% across the entire colony; must have been an explosion of young bumblebees that year unless someone had a lot of time on their hands and hand-pollenated hundreds of flowers. Often, for several years there will be very few new young plants, but every 6-10 years a good-sized crop appears.

I have done artificial pollination experiments at one edge of the colony (that is where the darkest, richest wine-colored flowers are) and find pollination success at 100%. In that small area, the second year after my artificial pollination, there are hundreds of new plants. That area is now densely covered with blooming plants. I haven't done any artificial pollination for a number of years now and the density has slowly decreased but is still far above the main colony with many nice, mature plants. Interestingly, about 7 years ago a distant part of the colony began to show some of the very dark-colored flowers. Perhaps a high Fall wind blew some seed in that direction. The dark-colored flowers have since become steadily more common in that area.

I have tried pots without much long-term success. Our house is on a property that has 3 acres of pine and hemlock forest. It had a very few acaule when we moved in. I took the seed from an opened pod of the very colorfully flowered specimens that I follow and spread them around. Now I have quite a few dark wine-red flowered plants. A Cyp enthusiast in Germany received some seed from me quite a while back and 3 years later sent photos of nicely-flowering plants he had grown. I asked him how he did it and he said he had just spread the seed in a small patch of white pines on his property. I asked him what species the pines were and he wrote back the same species as ours in CT. I was surprised but he responded that after WWII many white pines were planted to replace the trees lost in the bombings.

The above illustrates how fast acaule mature in the wild. In the colony I observe most of the new seedlings bloom the second year they are up and nearly all the third year.

Like in the images above, some of the old plants (old in the sense that I have seen them every year since 2002) have developed multiple leaves. Many older plants, like those in Xiphius' images of his lower section, have also developed multiple pairs of leaves from a single rhizome as they have matured.
Nice! That sounds like a magnificent site. Those trees must be mighty impressive! I love stumbling across tiny swaths of old growth forest. Not much left nowadays.

Counting every year is quite a chore! I applaud your devotion. That said, 3-5% sounds pretty typical for natural pollination rates. I would imagine that the year it was more than 90% someone had a "hand" in that (pun intended :p). I suppose it is not impossible that it happened naturally, but it would extremely extremely unlikely. I have also been a bit surprised by how easy they seem to be to pollinate. The flowers are extremely flexible so you don't even have to remove the pouch to easily reach the stigma. I just bend it to the side with a finger and then use a bent needle to daub some pollen on the stigma before gently adjusting the pouch back into place (that way the flowers are intact for others to enjoy too). There were a few that I was sure wouldn't work because it seemed like I was having trouble getting the pollen to stick to the stigma. But, so far, it looks like every single one I have tried to pollinate has taken (all have pods swelling) and on some of the earlier ones, the flowers are wilting and preparing to drop off.

Yeah, I think the key to long term culture in pots is being consistent with applications of vinegar. Too much work imho. I'll just enjoy them out in the wild. That said, my parents do have a nice stand of pines on their property which would probably be good for acaule, so I will likely take a pod and try to spread the love :).
 

BrucherT

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View attachment 15192 View attachment 15193

Sorry for the delay in responding. The acaule I’ve had the longest are in 7” clay bulb pans. I’ve had five in these pots for five years... no repotting. The first three years they stayed the same or got a little smaller the next year. Two summers ago I started to add 1/8 tsp Dyna-Gro orchid fertilizer (no urea) to a gallon of my rain water. The first year (2017) I fertilized this way once a month. The next year (2018) the plants looked bigger and greener so I fertilized every time I had to water. This year (2019) the plants are at least twice as big as they were last year and one looks like it’s going to have at least 5 leaves... very unusual. This year I started out fertilizing with the Dyna-Gro but am going to switch to a very small dose of ammonium sulfate. I haven’t checked the pH after mixing but will next time I check the fertigation water for my ‘in the house’ orchid collection.
Zero worries, your response is a treasure of info. I don’t grow these but I would give them a try...
 

Berthold

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Beautiful colony!

A Cyp enthusiast in Germany received some seed from me quite a while back and 3 years later sent photos of nicely-flowering plants he had grown. I asked him how he did it and he said he had just spread the seed in a small patch of white pines on his property. I asked him what species the pines were and he wrote back the same species as ours in CT. I was surprised but he responded that after WWII many white pines were planted to replace the trees lost in the bombings.
I am skeptical that the seeds have really germinated in situ in Germany. Normally we germinate the seed sterile in vitro. I never heard about a germination success in the forest in Germany.
 

Phred

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7DE5BAC0-7AAA-4F8C-A6A9-4D0D34FC1F90.jpeg 7153397E-FB5D-44AA-A178-DA5B048D00C7.jpeg I would love to see that many acaule in one spot... in bloom or otherwise.
At this point I’m still convinced the multi leaf plant I have is acaule. I believe I’ve had it since the summer of 2015. It has always been two leaves until last year when it was three. This year it is 6 leaves all coming from the center with no stem... see photo. The last of my plants are up and this year I have a three leaf plant besides the 6 leaf one we’ve been talking about. I have 25 potted and all are much bigger since I started feeding a week solution with the vinegar and rainwater.
 

Berthold

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The multi leaf plants seem to be a genetic deviation, may be atavism.
 

xiphius

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I thought there might be an alba one nearby since so many of the plants are either extremely pale pink or blotchy white. I had just assumed that it wasn't blooming this year though. Ended up taking a walk around to other side of the hill... and found it! It is not part of the main group. Kinda just off by itself doing it's own thing. It is the only blooming size plant in that area. Other than that just some babies. I self pollinated it. :)



This is one from the first batch I pollinated a couple weeks back. The flower has already shriveled and the pod is coming along nicely...

 

Phred

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That is beautiful... I’ve been looking for someone selling an alba form plant or a seed pod for several years. I thought one of mine that bloomed for the first time last year was an alba but at the last minute it turned color.
 
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Nice! That sounds like a magnificent site. Those trees must be mighty impressive! I love stumbling across tiny swaths of old growth forest. Not much left nowadays.

Counting every year is quite a chore! I applaud your devotion. That said, 3-5% sounds pretty typical for natural pollination rates. I would imagine that the year it was more than 90% someone had a "hand" in that (pun intended :p). I suppose it is not impossible that it happened naturally, but it would extremely extremely unlikely. I have also been a bit surprised by how easy they seem to be to pollinate. The flowers are extremely flexible so you don't even have to remove the pouch to easily reach the stigma. I just bend it to the side with a finger and then use a bent needle to daub some pollen on the stigma before gently adjusting the pouch back into place (that way the flowers are intact for others to enjoy too). There were a few that I was sure wouldn't work because it seemed like I was having trouble getting the pollen to stick to the stigma. But, so far, it looks like every single one I have tried to pollinate has taken (all have pods swelling) and on some of the earlier ones, the flowers are wilting and preparing to drop off.

Yeah, I think the key to long term culture in pots is being consistent with applications of vinegar. Too much work imho. I'll just enjoy them out in the wild. That said, my parents do have a nice stand of pines on their property which would probably be good for acaule, so I will likely take a pod and try to spread the love :).

It is actually a labor of love. I wouldn't miss it, it is very peaceful and I rarely run into other people. The area has a trail going through it but it is not used much, and a road through the park runs by a short stretch but there are not many cars. Fortunately one has to walk up to see the orchids (except in the parking lot for the trail, which has a number of acaule that grow in the gravel of the lot - the trail visitors always make sure they drive around the plants) whereas down below on the Farmington River there is a campground and that stretch of the river is a world class trout and salmon stream so the visitors stay down there. Since this forest is a remnant there are many species of plants that are quite rare in CT, and a few are the only known location in CT.
 

GuRu

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This C. acaule alba is a real eycatcher, very impressive.
 

NYEric

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Thanks for sharing. Our building has construction on the façade and we are not allowed in the garden! I don't know what's happening out there. :(
 

GuRu

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......Our building has construction on the façade and we are not allowed in the garden! I don't know what's happening out there. :(
Eric, are you afraid, you're missing the flower season of C. acaule in your garden? :D
 

xiphius

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It is actually a labor of love. I wouldn't miss it, it is very peaceful and I rarely run into other people. The area has a trail going through it but it is not used much, and a road through the park runs by a short stretch but there are not many cars. Fortunately one has to walk up to see the orchids (except in the parking lot for the trail, which has a number of acaule that grow in the gravel of the lot - the trail visitors always make sure they drive around the plants) whereas down below on the Farmington River there is a campground and that stretch of the river is a world class trout and salmon stream so the visitors stay down there. Since this forest is a remnant there are many species of plants that are quite rare in CT, and a few are the only known location in CT.
It is nice to hear that people seem to be respecting the site. It sounds like a lot of people know about it. The fact that they seem to be trying to keep it alive instead of trashing/exploiting it makes me feel a bit better about humanity. Of course, for every story like this, there are sadly 10 others of people mowing things down. May it prosper for many more years to come!

Thanks for sharing. Our building has construction on the façade and we are not allowed in the garden! I don't know what's happening out there. :(
Sad day! Hopefully the plants are doing well. Is it a shared garden? Or do you get your own space?

This C. acaule alba is a real eycatcher, very impressive.
Yes, I was super happy when I found it! I had almost given up looking. Yet another one I can tick off the bucket list. Now, if I could just find a parviflorum nearby :p ...

There are a lot of nature trails that run through the wooded areas around my apartment and I have been slowly exploring them (in addition to the chunk of open woods behind me where the acaule are). I have found several populations of other native terrestrial orchids (like Galearis spectabilis), but no other slippers... yet... (area is probably not quite right for it though)
 

GuRu

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Now, if I could just find a parviflorum nearby :p ...

There are a lot of nature trails that run through the wooded areas around my apartment and I have been slowly exploring them (in addition to the chunk of open woods behind me where the acaule are). I have found several populations of other native terrestrial orchids (like Galearis spectabilis), but no other slippers... yet... (area is probably not quite right for it though)
You are a lucky one if you live in an area where Cyps have their natural habitat.....But I think you won't find any other Cyp. species because the requirement for the soil, especially the ph value, are too diferent between C. acaule and the other ones.
 
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xiphius

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You are a lucky one if you live in a area where Cyps have there natural habitat.....But I think you won't find any other Cyp. species because the requirement for the soil, especially the ph value, are too diferent between C. acaule and the other ones.
I know there are unlikely to be other cyp species in the immediate vicinity of acaule. But the acaule occupy only a small area. There are a lot of woods around, and the vegetation can vary considerably from acre-to-acre. For instance, in Shenandoah, I know where populations of both acaule and parviflorum exist - and some are fairly close to each other (so it is possible). Parviflorum also likes acid soil, just not as extreme as acaule. That said, I know it is a long shot. If I were to find others nearby, that would be a huge stroke of luck. I'm not exactly holding my breath, but a man can dream :rolleyes:.
 

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