Rare beauties in bloom

Jack Elliott
Rainy River correspondent

In Northern Ontario we have some rare beauties. One of them found this time of year if you look hard enough is the Showy Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium reginae). It is one of our native orchids and can be found in moist shaded areas along roadside ditches and forest edges from mid June through early July. The labellum is white with a pink blush and white petals. A cousin, the Yellow Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium parviflorum) is more common and blooms a couple weeks earlier in less wet and more open habitat, so if you look for them blooming you will know when to start watching for the Showy Lady’s Slipper.

The flower stems that are multi leaved are inconspicuous and grow rapidly. I have looked where I knew there should be flowers and have seen no sign of them only to return to the same spot a week later and finding dozens of the beauties in full bloom. So if you can brave the mosquitoes, wood ticks, and the mud in the ditch take a walk on the wild side and check them out. A collection of them with your camera is the best way to harvest these orchids. Picking or digging them up may well be illegal in some jurisdictions and transplanting them would probably prove disappointing as the soil biome required for them to flourish is not well understood.

So after you have feasted your eyes, head for home with your treasure safely stored in your camera and mind’s eye. And don’t forget to check for ticks.