(Arethusa bulbosa) Orchid family

Flowers - 1 to 2 in. long, bright purple pink, solitary, violet

scented, rising from between a pair of small scales at end of

smooth scape from 5 to 10 in. high. Lip dropping beneath sepals

and petals, broad, rounded, toothed, or fringed, blotched with

purple, and with three hairy ridges down its surface. Leaf:

Solitary, hidden at first, coming after the flower, but attaining

length of 6 in. Root: Bulbous. Fruit: A 6-ribbed capsule, 1 in.

long, rarely maturing.

Preferred Habitat - Northern bogs and swamps.

Flowering Season - May-June.

Distribution - From North Carolina and Indiana northward to the

Fur Countries.

One flower to a plant, and that one rarely maturing seed; a

temptingly beautiful prize which few refrain from carrying home,

to have it wither on the way pursued by that more persistent

lover than Alpheus, the orchid-hunter who exports the bulbs to

European collectors - little wonder this exquisite orchid is

rare, and that from certain of those cranberry bogs of Eastern

New England, which it formerly brightened with its vivid pink, it

has now gone forever. Like Arethusa, the nymph whom Diana changed

into a fountain that she might escape from the infatuated river

god, Linnaeus fancied this flower a maiden in the midst of a

spring bubbling from wet places where presumably none may follow


But the bee, our Arethusa's devoted lover, although no villain,

still pursues her. He knows that moisture-loving plants secrete

the most nectar. When the head of the bee enters the flower to

sip, nothing happens; but as he raises his head to depart, it

cannot help lifting the lid of the helmet-shaped anther and so

letting fall a few soft pellets of pollen on it. Now, after he

has drained the next arethusa, his pollen-laden head must rub

against the long sticky stigma before it touches the helmet-like

anther lid and precipitates another volley of pollen. In some

such manner most of our orchids compel insects to work for them

in preventing self-fertilization.

Another charming, but much smaller, orchid, that we must don our

rubber boots to find where it hides in cool, peaty bogs from

Canada and the Northern United States to California, and

southward in the Rockies to Arizona, is the CALYPSO (Calypso

bulbosa). It is a solitary little flower, standing out from the

top of a jointed scape that never rises more than six inches from

the solid bulb, hidden in the moss, nor boasts more than one

nearly round leaf near its base. The blossom itself suggests one

of the lady's slipper orchids, with its rosy purple, narrow,

pointed sepals and petals clustered at the top above a large,

sac-shaped, whitish lip. The latter is divided into two parts,

heavily blotched with cinnamon brown, and woolly with a patch of

yellow hairs near the point of the division. May - June.