Saturday, April 27, 2013

Third Week of the Native Orchid Season - Fairy Slippers and Spotted Coralroots

April 21-27

The third week of the native orchid season we were able to get out twice for some orchid hunting.  On Monday, April 22, we climbed Mount Si near North Bend, Washington, and on our way down found a few Western Fairy Slippers, Calypso bulbosa var. occidentalis, blooming at lower elevations.

Friday afternoon we visited Sehome Hill Arboretum in Bellingham, looking for Fairy Slippers where we had found one poor flower the year before.  We were able to find quite a few more in that area, though many of them were going by as a result of a very early spring and will soon be finished there.

 This one was either deformed or not yet fully opened,
but shows some of the details of the flowers.

To our surprise we also found a few spikes of the Western Spotted Coralroot, Corallorhiza maculata var. occidentalis, starting to bloom.  The earliest date I have for these is May 10th, so they, too, are several weeks early, though some spikes had not yet started to bloom.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Second Week of the Native Orchid Season - Fairy Slippers

April 14-20

Twice this week, and once with my wife, I visited Sharpe Park south of Anacortes.  It is on the coast and has several miles of trails as well as some great views of the San Juan Straits and Islands.  When I visited I found quite a few Fairy Slippers though not as many as in Washington Park the previous week.  When I went again with my wife we found a few more.  It was quite windy both days, so photography was a challenge, as it often is outdoors.

We found one flower that appeared to be a pale form, though the flowers do turn white after being pollinated and just before they close and wither.  In any case it was still very beautiful and we made sure we got plenty of pictures of it.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

First Week of the Native Orchid Season - Fairy Slippers

April 7-13

Finally!  Actually they are two to three weeks early, but the Fairy Slippers are blooming at lower elevations here in western Washington.  I visited Washington Park and Sharpe Park in the Anacortes area on Fidalgo Island Thursday and found them already at their peak.  The earliest date I have for them is April 18th and at that point they were just starting to bloom, but we have found them as late as May 25 if spring weather is delayed.  In any case, it was wonderful to see them.

As I have noted in previous posts these are the Western Fairy Slipper, Calypso bulbosa var. occidentalis, distinguished from the much more common and wide-spread eastern variety by the white (rather than yellow) "beard" and by the brown markings on the mid-lobe (outer end) of the lip.  It is not quite as showy as the eastern variety, but very elegant and beautiful in its own way.  We hope to see the eastern variety later this month on another excursion to eastern Washington.

One additional note.  Last year we found a white Fairy Slipper in Washington Park.  I looked for it again and discovered that some blankety-blank had dug it up, probably last fall.  The hole they left was still there.  I cannot understand that someone who knows what they were seeing would be so thoughtless and stupid as to take something so beautiful and valuable for their own private use and probably kill it in the process.  I just hope that my post last year was not their motivation.