wet orchids along west canada creek

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Jan 22, 2008
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elmer, nj
I have a large backlog of native/wildflower pictures that I have to edit and upload. These were taken in late june while we were in the midst of the heavy spring rains falling around the u.s. I often visit places in the adirondack park not far from where I work/live and one spot is along the west canada creek where harvey bridge crosses the stream just north of hinckley reservoir. A week or so before this, I had stopped by this spot and the water was easy to cross over a tiny stream that empties into the w.c. creek. When I showed up this afternoon, the water was at least three to four feet higher than when I'd seen it before! I saw quite a few plants and even some flowers that were under water. At this spot, you can see four native orchids at the same time/location; shining ladies' tresses is the first, then platanthera flava var. herbiola starts flowering. After that, lesser purple fringed orchids flower about the same time that club-spur orchis starts flowering.


shining ladies' tresses, or spiranthes lucida flowering partly under water


greenery under water between rocks; usual spot where orchids grow and flower


lesser purple fringed orchids in bud


shining ladies tresses flowers completely under water


a purple fringed orchid safely behind a large rock


frog orchid starting to flower




clump of platanthera flava growing out of the water

normally, spiranthes lucida can flower just a few inches (if not right in) above moving water, while p. flava and club spur are a little higher from the water line along with the purple fringed orchid. these stream banks are almost the same as those along the upper hudson river near north creek and above. the streams and rivers up north will become covered with ice, and in late winter when things start to melt, huge piles of ice will starting moving downstream, and any land in or along the water will be scoured by the moving ice. often these are called 'ice plains'. in this case, it isn't really a plain but the effect is the same. only plants that are underground or tough enough to handle moving ice will grow in these areas. some of these orchids, like the club spur and shining ladies' tresses will grow on sand/rock spits that are often in the middle of the water during the late winter and spring. some can sit higher up on banks that have springs running into them, and often these orchids will be found in clusters where water is seeping through the ground into the stream. this water is often cooler, which regulates the ground temps to the orchids' liking in addition to providing year-round water in a spot where the stream water level may rise and fall several feet during the year. it truly is a unique growing environment and true ice plains can have combinations of plant communities unlike any anywhere else

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