I had a good window of opportunity to be gone from work Friday so I jumped at the chance. The best part about group field trips is the chance to meet new people, share knowledge , learn about new locations. In the case of the elusive orchids, I am trying to learn about how they fit into the environment and how to see.
Our leader pointed out what looked like three white asparagus spears sticking up from the ground. We left the trail and moved closed to see the spike of Phantom Orchids. There pure white orchids will be blooming in a few weeks.
We could easily find Coralroot spikes, also not yet in bloom and the leaves of Rattlesnake Plantain which will bloom later in the summer.
We went back down the trail and cut in. Here was the fabulous prize of the day...
Clustered Lady's Slipper , Cypripedium fasiculatum. The are rare and tiny. The plant does not stand more than four inches high and the flowers are barely one inch across. Like many orchids, the flowers nod, so their faces as turned away, further hiding their presence. Mixed in here were Mountain Lady Slippers, not yet in bloom. Four different genus / five different species in one location.