09 June 2013

Lady's Tresses Orchid

May 2013
I was planning to do maintenance on my lawn mower myself, but when the self-propelled part broke, I decided to let someone else take care of it.  It's been more than two weeks and I'm still waiting for my lawnmower back. I have to say that you never know what you might see when you let the grass grow.  I was in the yard pulling weeds and I noticed something that I haven't seen for a couple of years - Lady's Tresses Orchids.

I first heard about these years ago on a local public radio spot that horticulture extension agents do every day.  She talked about having a yard full and mowing them down each spring.  I had never considered that there were any native orchids - they seem so exotic to me.  After I did a lot of research, most native orchids, you would miss if you weren't really looking for them.  That goes for these as well - I wouldn't have been so curious about these if I hadn't already heard about them.

May 2011
Spiranthes is the genus of orchid that the Lady's Tresses falls into.  It's one of the terrestrial orchids.  It has fleshy roots - that's how I knew it must have been an orchid when I first encountered it a couple of years ago.  Up close, the flowers had the unmistakable orchid petal arrangement, albeit on a smaller scale.  I'm not sure how I came across them two years ago, but this time it was because I hadn't mowed the grass for a couple of weeks.  It's possible that's what happened last time.  While it grows in a wide variety of soils and ecosystems, it is listed endangered in some parts of Canada. I counted close to a dozen in my yard - I hope they multiply and I'll transplant them to their own area of the yard - so I don't mow over them every year.

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