SHOWY LADY'S SLIPPER
(Cypripedium reginae; C. spectabile of Gray) Orchid family
Flowers - Usually solitary, at summit of stem, white, or the
inflated white lip painted with purplish pink and white stripes;
sepals rounded oval, spreading, white, not longer than the lip;
petals narrower, white; the
broad sac-shaped pouch open in front,
1 in. long or over. Stem: Stout, leafy, 1 to 2 ft. high. Leaves:
3 to 8 in. long, downy, elliptic, pointed, many ribbed.
Preferred Habitat - Peat-bogs; rich, low, wet woods.
Flowering Season - June-September.
Distribution - Nova Scotia to Georgia, westward to the
Mississippi. Chiefly North.
Quite different from the showy orchis, is this far more chaste
showy lady's slipper which Dr. Gray has called "the most
beautiful of the genus." Because the plants live in inaccessible
swampy places, where only the most zealous flower lover
penetrates, they have a reputation for rarity at which one who
knows a dozen places to find colonies of the stately exquisites
during a morning's walk, must smile with superiority. Wine
appears to overflow the large white cup and trickle down its
sides. Sometimes unstained, pure white chalices are found. C.
album is the name by which the plant is known in England. See
note after Common Daisy.
LARGE ROUND-LEAVED or GREATER GREEN ORCHIS
(Habenaria orbiculata) Orchid family
Flowers - Greenish white, in a loosely set spike; the upper sepal
short, rounded; side ones spreading; petals smaller, arching; the
lip long, narrow, drooping, white, prolonged into a spur often 1
1/2 in. long, curved and enlarged at base; anther sacs prominent,
converging. Scape: 1 to 2 ft. high. Leaves: 2, spreading flat on
ground, glossy above, silvery underneath, parallel-veined,
slightly longer than wide, very large, from 4 to 7 in. across.
Preferred Habitat - Rich, moist woods in mountainous regions,
especially near evergreens.
Flowering Season - July-August.
Distribution - From British Columbia to the Atlantic; eastern
half of the United States southward to the Carolinas.
Wonderfully interesting structure and the comparative rarity of
this orchid, rather than superficial beauty, are responsible for
the thrill of pleasure one experiences at the sight of the spike
of unpretentious flowers. Two great leaves, sometimes as large as
dinner plates, attract the eye to where they glisten on the
ground. The spur of the blossom, the nectary, "implies a welcome
to a tongue two inches long, and will reward none other," says
William Hamilton Gibson. "This clearly shuts out the bees,
butterflies, and smaller moths. What insect, then, is here
implied? The sphinx moth, one of the lesser of the group. A
larger individual might sip the nectar, it is true, but its
longer tongue would reach the base of the tube without effecting
the slightest contact with the pollen, which is, of course, the
desideratum." How the moth, in sipping the nectar, thrusts his
head against the sticky buttons to which the pollen messes are
attached, and, in trying to release himself, loosens them; how he
flies off with these little clubs sticking to his eyes; how they
automatically adjust themselves to the attitude where they will
come in contact with the stigma of the next flower visited, and
so cross-fertilize it, has been told in the account of the great
purple-fringed orchis of similar construction. To that species
the interested reader is, therefore, referred; or, better still,
to the luminous description by Dr. Asa Gray.
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Next: WHITEFRINGED ORCHIS
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