Field Trips South – Native Orchid Conference, Manitoba, Canada — 2017-06-05 thru 2017-06-08

At this year’s annual Native Orchid Conference symposium in Manitoba, Canada, the two day’s field trips were in opposite directions from our headquarters which were at the South Beach Casino and Resort in Scanterbury. The 60 attendees were separated into 4 groups of 15, and each group was assigned a list of orchid sites to visit for the day. Two of them were “South” and two of them were “North”. I was in the “South” Group. Each group was further divided into 2 sub-groups, and we switched locations at about 1:00 pm so that we would each see all that there was to see in the area. Whew! If you think that is complicated, you should have been there when we were separating into the 4 groups! Seems like an easy thing to do, but it’s not. It’s the “herding cats” thing. But I digress…

The first area that the first sub-group of the “South” group visited was near the village of Woodridge. We arrived on time (10:00am) at a local tavern after a 2-hour drive from the Casino and configured our caravan for the initial adventure out into the field. After agreeing on whom to follow, we proceeded down an EXTREMELY dusty road and finally arrived at the first of the orchid sites. Here, we saw some great (and very dark) Cypripedium acaule or Pink Lady’s-slipper orchids. The Pink Lady’s-slipper orchids in the south are medium to light pink, but these were a deep, raspberry pink — a color I had not seen since our trip to Newfoundland, Canada a couple of years ago. Here is an example of that deep color:

Pink Lady's-slipper orchid Pink Lady’s-slipper orchid

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Brokenhead Wetland Ecological Reserve – Native Orchid Conference, Manitoba, Canada — 2017-06-05 thru 2017-06-08

This year’s annual Native Orchid Conference symposium (the 16th one in 16 years) took us to an area northeast of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, near the southeast shore of Lake Winnipeg. The conference was held in the facility of South Beach Casino and Resort in the village of Scanterbury, Manitoba. The symposium began with a reception on Sunday evening (2017-06-04) in one of the two large ballrooms. The highlight of the evening was getting re-acquainted with friends whom we haven’t seen since the previous symposium. This social gathering is always fun, and it has become an event that we all look forward to attending.

For those of you who have not attended one of the NOC’s symposia, they consist of two days of enlightening and educational presentations as well as two days of full-day field trips to local areas to study and photograph native orchids. This year, the “official” NOC field trips included visits to several sites, one of which was Brokenhead Wetland Ecological Reserve. I could go on and on about this very special place, but instead, I will provide the official link. This is a wonderfully informative website, and is chock full of internal links (see the menu on the left of the home page) that fully explain the mission, inception, and on-going activities of the site. The NOC attendees visited this site in 2005 when the symposium was held in Winnipeg. However, the lengthy boardwalk had not been built then, so to our “delight”, we tromped around in the calf-deep boggy areas photographing the orchids in the woods and bog. The boardwalk currently allows visitors who are not so passionate as we orchidophiles are, to see and appreciate the natural heritage of the area.

It is important to note that Brokenhead Wetland Ecological Reserve is overseen by Debwendon Inc., a non-profit organization formed in 2007 to promote and preserve the Brokenhead Wetland Ecological Reserve, raise public awareness of the historic cultural connection between the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation and the Brokenhead Wetland. In the Ojibway language, debwendon means “trust”.

Much volunteer effort has been expended by another organization, Native Orchid Conservation Inc. (NOCI) which is based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. In June of 2016, they published the 2nd edition of “Orchids of Manitoba: a field guide” — a wonderful guide to the native orchid species, many of which we saw during the symposium field trips.

Of course, most of our endeavor was to locate and photograph the native orchids of this special place, and there were two species, in particular, that I wanted to photograph. The first of these was Corallorhiza striata var. striata or Striped Coral Root orchid:

Striped Coral Root orchid Striped Coral Root orchid

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In search of a rare and newly described Heartleaf, Hexastylis rosei in Caldwell County, North Carolina — 2017-05-27

On May 27, 2017, my good friend and photographer, Alan Cressler joined me on the search for a rare and newly-described Heartleaf called Hexastylis rosei. Before I go any farther, I have to stop right here and issue a disclaimer of sorts. The author of the paper (Brandon T. Sinn) describing this new Heartleaf chose to place the plant in the genus, Asarum rather than Hexastylis. I will save you some grief by giving you two links: one pointing to the author’s paper (you may have to click more than once to get it to link properly – the site is slow) describing the new Heartleaf, and the other a very detailed discussion of the excruciating path that the Heartleaf plants have had to endure in their naming. It’s only for the botany geeks in our midst. I will tell you, though, that the meat of this last discussion is as follows:

Some authors split species into multiple genera and other authors lumped the species into sections within fewer genera. There is no single precedence of classification for Asarum, sensu lato [in the broad sense] and to this day, none of them have been absolutely verified for all of the species concerned. This history of classification begins in pre-Linnaean times and continues to the present.

So, on my own, I have decided to place this new Heartleaf species in the genus, Hexastylis, and all references to it in this blog will be to Hexastylis rosei. ‘Nuf said…

Here is a close-up shot of the flower of this new species:

Hexastylis rosei Hexastylis rosei (Rose’s Heartleaf)

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A large population of the rare, Small Whorled Pogonia orchid in western South Carolina — 2017-05-06

On Saturday, May 5, I was fortunate enough to be guided to a special site in Oconee County, South Carolina for the rare, Isotria medeoloides or Small Whorled Pogonia orchid. My guide was a recent acquaintance, David White, who is a contract employee for the US Forest Service, doing monitoring and surveys of plants within the state of South Carolina. David is the volunteer steward for this particular plot of orchids, and he is charged by the newly formed, South Carolina Plant Conservation Alliance (SCPCA), to make periodic reports concerning the orchid’s well-being.

Here is an image of one of the plants we found at the creek-side plot:

Small Whorled Pogonia orchid Small Whorled Pogonia orchid (with a tiny inch worm on one of the sepals)

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Three native orchids and some other stuff… 2017-04-26

Those of you who know me well, know that I am easily distracted by shiny objects. The latest, very shiny object to come my way is the cabin that Walter and I recently had built on a piece of mountain property in western North Carolina near the Tennessee border. Now, I am fully aware that talking about such an acquisition is like showing pictures of my grandchildren or our latest vacation, so I will try not to bore you much further. However, I mention all of this to let you know that I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth nor have I been raptured. It’s just life getting in the way of other more important things (like a blog).

Back in the saddle: Yesterday, after being notified by several of you that the orchids were in bloom in the Pisgah National Forest, I made the familiar trip up the road (Hwy. 276) to the Pisgah National Forest. However, first, I wanted to stop by the site for Isotria verticillata or Large Whorled Pogonia in the town of Brevard, North Carolina. This site was shown to me a few years ago, and I have visited it each year since then. In previous years, there have been hundreds of plants in flower. Last year, there were only 4 !!! This year, I counted 8 or 9 of them with many smaller, sterile plants showing themselves. I’m not sure the cause of the drastic decline, but it appears that they’re making a come back.

Here are a few shots of some of the plants I saw on this trip :

Large Whorled Pogonia Large Whorled Pogonia

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