green summer orchids (pt. 2)

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Jan 22, 2008
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elmer, nj
moving about a mile down the road to the next spot, we found a very good number of two types of platanthera lacera, or the ragged fringed orchid. because of the high rainfall, this year was an extra-special bonus year for finding flowering p. lacera! at this spot, there were three zones where we found plants; the first was a scraped, very infertile clay spot that is very wet in spring but then dries out in summer (at least on top of the soil). a few years ago, this spot had shorter p. lacera that had sort-of an orange coloration to some of the flowers. if you look at the top of northern white fringed orchids, you can see this same coloration. I don't know if there is some hybridization; this year there were only maybe one or two of this orange type, the rest were mostly green





a few nice platanthera lacera orchids

we next moved on to a nature conservancy wetland area and were treated to a mostly white grass pink! it was a bit past and the light was shining through the back of the flower so it was difficult to get a nice pic, but the flower was very pretty


white grass pink orchid. there were other nice standard purple ones all around

moving on again up the hill, we stopped at a spot that reliably has less than a dozen flowering plants of platanthera lacera. one of the tricks to finding this species is that it likes water at the time of year just before it emerges. if it's kind of dry when it would emerge then those plants likely won't come up to flower. at this site, even though it's on top of a hill the water level always is the same, so some of the same plants come up each year. these often are some of the nicest ones, they are growing in grasses and thick sphagnum moss



moving on yet again, we arrive at a roadside fen that extends quite a ways up a hillside. it is open, has pockets of cattails and a few trees, and has dairy cattle that graze through it during the whole year. from a distance, you wouldn't think that there was anything special about this site - just another central ny cow pasture but if you look closely you can see tamaracks, and this is always a sign that something interesting is at hand!


this site has some of the most concentrated populations of platanthera flava var. herbiola that i've ever seen or heard of. usually it is found along streams or rivers, in clumps of plants that have a few flowers. at this site, there are hundreds in very close proximity and usually most visible plants have flower spikes which is very unusual. this year, this site had many hundreds in many areas of the large fen. in this picture, which i've color-enhanced and used a flash, you can see (if you look very closely) over 50 flowering plants of p. flava


nice stem

not far away in the fen, we look with matt for awhile trying to find a few plants of platanthera aquilonis which he'd seen just a few days before. we hunted for a while walking back and forth before matt realized that the orchids were along a different group of cattails. moving on he quickly found the two plants which were very small in comparison to the cattails and about the same size as the p. flava


ken trying to use his loupe to definitively identify p. aquilonis by looking at it's pollinia. aquilonis can and usually does self-pollinate, and you can help to identify it by observing pollen masses falling from it's 'eyes' down onto the stigmatic surface


shady closeup


higher up on the fen there were some clusters of loesel's twayblades, or liparis loeselii. these can be sort of rare-ish in europe and that part of the world, but here in upstate ny and other nearby areas they can be downright locally common

at this time of year, many of the native orchids are green or greenish-white. in other threads i've posted recently, there were two other species platanthera orbiculata and macrophylla which are also green or greenish-white. i'm not sure why this is, but most of these that area open now including club spur orchis are also greenish white. I did find one plant of platanthera grandiflora up in the open on the side hill underneath cattails that was mostly going to seed. matt was excited to see this species there, as it made a total I think of over a dozen different orchid species found in this cow pasture! also, he had just told me that it was unlikely that grandiflora would be found here because it was too sunny lol. orchids, just like some people, often defy convention!

thanks for joining me on another orchid hunt!
I look at these photos and wonder how many times I've tramped through fields without knowing there were orchids there...
Beautiful photos! Fascinating plants and it makes me wish to be somewhere else that looks so lush and different from here! ( I'm not complaining, just wishing...)