(Streptopus roseus) Lily-of-the-Valley family

Flowers - Dull, purplish pink, 1/2 in. long or less, solitary, on

threadlike, curved footstalks longer than the small flower

itself, nodding from leaf-axils. Perianth bill-shaped, of 6

spreading segments; stamens 6, 2-horned; style spreading into 3

branches, stigmatic on inner side. Stem: 1 to 2 1/2 ft. high,

simple or forked. Leaves: Thin, alternate, green on both sides,

many nerved, tapering at end, rounded at base, where they are

seated on stem. Fruit: A round, red, many-seeded berry.

Preferred Habitat - Moist woods.

Flowering Season - May-July.

Distribution - North America east and west, southward to Georgia

and Oregon.

As we look down on this graceful plant, no blossoms are visible;

but if we bend the zig-zagged stem backward, we shall discover

the little rosy bells swaying from the base of the leaves on

curved footstalks (streptos = twisted, pous = a foot or stalk)

very much as the plant's relatives the Solomon's seals grow. In

the confident expectation of having its seeds dropped far and

wide, it bears showy red berries in August for the birds now

wandering through the woods with increased, hungry families.

The CLASPING-LEAVED TWISTED-STALK (S. amplexifolius), which has

one or two greenish-white bells nodding from its axils, may be

distinguished when not in flower by its leaves, which are hoary -

not green - on the under side, or by its oval berry. Indeed most

plants living in wet soil have a coating of down on the under

sides of their leaves to prevent the pores from clogging with

rising vapors.


(Cypripedium acaule) Orchid family

Flowers - Fragrant, solitary, large, showy, drooping from end of

scape, 6 to 12 in. high. Sepals lance-shaped, spreading, greenish

purple, 2 in. long or less; petals narrower and longer than

sepals. Lip an inflated sac, often over 2 in. long, slit down the

middle, and folded inwardly above, pale magenta, veined with

darker pink upper part of interior crested with long white hairs.

Stamens united with style into unsymmetrical declined column,

bearing an anther on either side, and a dilated triangular

petal-like sterile stamen above, arching over the broad concave

stigma. Leaves: 2, from the base; elliptic, thick, 6 to 8 in.


Preferred Habitat - Deep, rocky, or sandy woods.

Flowering Season - May-June.

Distribution - Canada southward to North Carolina, westward to

Minnesota and Kentucky.

Because most people cannot forbear picking this exquisite flower

that seems too beautiful to be found outside a millionaire's

hothouse, it is becoming rarer every year, until the finding of

one in the deep forest, where it must now hide, has become the

event of a day's walk. Once it was the commonest of the orchids.

"Cross-fertilization," says Darwin, "results in offspring which

vanquish the offspring of self-fertilization in the struggle for

existence." This has been the motto of the orchid family for

ages. No group of plants has taken more elaborate precautions

against self-pollination or developed more elaborate and

ingenious mechanism to compel insects to transfer their pollen

than this.

The fissure down the front of the pink lady's slipper is not so

wide but that a bee must use some force to push against its

elastic sloping sides and enter the large banquet chamber where

he finds generous entertainment secreted among the fine white

hairs in the upper part. Presently he has feasted enough. Now one

can hear him buzzing about inside, trying to find a way out of

the trap. Toward the two little gleams of light through apertures

at the end of a passage beyond the nectary hairs, he at length

finds his way. Narrower and narrower grows the passage until it

would seem as if he could never struggle through; nor can he

until his back has rubbed along the sticky, overhanging stigma,

which is furnished with minute, rigid, sharply pointed papillae,

all directed forward, and placed there for the express purpose of

combing out the pollen he has brought from another flower on his

back or head. The imported pollen having been safely removed, he

still has to struggle on toward freedom through one of the narrow

openings, where an anther almost blocks his way.

As he works outward, this anther, drawn downward on its hinge,

plasters his back with yellow granular pollen as a parting gift,

and away he flies to another lady's slipper to have it combed out

by the sticky stigma as described above. The smallest bees can

squeeze through the passage without paying toll. To those of the

Andrena and Halictus tribe the flower is evidently best adapted.

Sometimes the largest bumblebees, either unable or unwilling to

get out by the legitimate route, bite their way to liberty.

Mutilated sacs are not uncommon. But when unable to get out by

fair means, and too bewildered to escape by foul, the large bee

must sometimes perish miserably in his gorgeous prison.


(Orchis spectabilis) Orchid family

Flowers - Purplish pink, of deeper and lighter shade, the lower

lip white, and thick of texture; from 3 to 6 on a spike;

fragrant. Sepals pointed, united, arching above the converging

petals, and resembling a hood; lip large, spreading, prolonged

into a spur, which is largest at the tip and as long as the

twisted footstem. Sterm: 4 to 12 in. high, thick, fleshy,

5-sided. Leaves: 2 large, broadly ovate, glossy green, silvery on

under side, rising from a few scales from root. Fruit: A sharply

angled capsule, 1 in. long.

Preferred Habitat - Rich, moist woods, especially under hemlocks.

Flowering Season - April-June.

Distribution - From New Brunswick and Ontario southward to our

Southern States, westward to Nebraska.

Of the six floral leaves which every orchid, terrestrial or

aerial, possesses, one is always peculiar in form, pouch-shaped,

or a cornucopia filled with nectar, or a flaunted, fringed

banner, or a broad platform for the insect visitors to alight on.

Some orchids look to imaginative eyes as if they were

masquerading in the disguise of bees, moths, frogs, birds,

butterflies. A number of these queer freaks are to be found in

Europe. Spring traps, adhesive plasters, and hair-triggers

attached to explosive shells of pollen are among the many devices

by which orchids compel insects to cross-fertilize them, these

flowers as a family showing the most marvelous mechanism adapted

to their requirements from insects in the whole floral kingdom.

No other blossoms can so well afford to wear magenta, the ugliest

shade nature produces, the "lovely rosy purple" of Dutch bulb

growers, a color that has an unpleasant effect on not a few

American stomachs outside of Hoboken.

But an orchid, from the amazing cleverness of its operations, is

attractive under any circumstances to whomever understands

it. This earliest member of the family to appear charms the

female bumblebee, to whose anatomy it is especially adapted. The

males, whose faces are hairy where the females' are bare, and

therefore not calculated to retain the sticky pollen masses, are

not yet flying when the showy orchis blooms. Bombus Americanorum,

which can drain the longest spurs, B. separatus, B. terricola,

and, rarely, butterflies as well, have been caught with its

pollen masses attached. The bee alights on the projecting lip,

pushes her head into the mouth of the corolla, and, as she sips

the nectar from the horn of plenty, ruptures by the slight

pressure a membrane of the pouch where two sticky buttons, to

which two pollen masses are attached, lie imbedded. Instantly

after contact these adhere to the round bare spots on her face,

the viscid cement hardening before her head is fairly withdrawn.

Now the diverging pollen masses, that look like antennae, fall

from the perpendicular, by remarkable power of contraction, to a

horizontal attitude, that they may be in the precise position to

fertilize the stigma of the next flower visited - just as if they

possessed a reasoning intelligence! Even after all the pollen has

been deposited on the sticky stigmas of various blossoms,

stump-like caudicles to which the two little sacs were attached

have been found still plastered on a long-suffering bee. But so

rich in nectar are the moisture-loving orchids that, to obtain a

draught, the sticky plasters which she must carry do not seem too

dear a price to pay. In this showy orchis the nectar often rises

an eighth of an inch in the tube, and sufficient pressure to

cause a rupture will eject it a foot.


(Pogonia ophioglossoides) Orchid family

Flowers - Pale rose pink, fragrant, about 1 in. long, usually

solitary at end of stem 8 to 15 in. high, and subtended by a

leaf-like bract. Sepals and petals equal, oval, about 1/2 in.

long, the lip spoon-shaped, crested, and fringed. Column shorter

than petals, thick, club-shaped. Anther terminal, attached to

back of column, pollen mass in each of its 2 sacs. Stigma a

flattened disk below anther. Leaves: 1 to 3, erect, lance-oblong,

sometimes one with long footstem from fibrous root.

Preferred Habitat - Swamps and low meadows.

Flowering Season - June-July.

Distribution - Canada to Florida, westward to Kansas.

Rearing its head above the low sedges, often brightened with

colonies of the grass pink at the same time, this shy recluse of

the swamps woos the passing bee with lovely color, a fragrance

like fresh red raspberries, an alluring alighting place all

fringed and crested, and with the prospect of hospitable

entertainment in the nectary beyond. So in she goes, between the

platform and the column overhead, pushing first her head, then

brushing her back against the stigma just below the end of the

thick column that almost closes the passage. Any powdery pollen

she brought on her back from another pogonia must now be brushed

off against the sticky stigma. Her feast ended, out she backs.

And now a wonderful thing happens. The lid of the anther which is

at the end of the column, catching in her shoulders, swings

outward on its elastic hinge, releasing a little shower of golden

dust, which she must carry on the hairs of her head or back until

the sticky stigma of the next pogonia entered kindly wipes it

off! This is one of the few orchids whose pollen, usually found

in masses, is not united by threads. Without the bee's aid in

releasing it from its little box, the lovely species would

quickly perish from the face of the earth.