Friday, October 21, 2011

Photo Friday - Orchids

Photo Friday - Where I share my love of photography and plants

Serapias vomeracea
Geneva Botanical Gardens
This week I've been writing the next episode of Learning Your Plants - a botany course for herbalists for 

This episode is focused on the orchid family and so I was inspired to share some orchid photos this Friday. 

Most of us are most familiar with the orchids that are so lovingly cultivated in people's homes. There are over 100,000 cultivars of orchids! 

I adore orchids and the ones closest to my heart are the ones found in the wild. This is the largest plant family on the planet, yet there is something so magical about finding these spectacular plants. Perhaps due to the wet spring and early summer I found orchids this year that I had never seen before - some of them growing right outside my cabin! 

This first set of photos are of Lady's Slippers (Cypripedium montanum). These grow along our creek, about a five minute walk from our cabin. Each spring when these start to emerge from the ground I visit them daily to watch them unfold. 

Lady's Slippers were a favorite medicinal plant not too many decades ago. Over harvesting and habitat loss have put most species on the endangered list. I am working with these plants to encourage them to spread abundantly. 

This White Bog Orchid (Platanthera spp.) was growing on Mt. Hood. I had the honor of hiking through the area with Paul Bergner and his students a couple of years ago and we came alongside this beauty in a marshy open clearing. 

Coral root (Corallorhiza maculata) is not only an orchid but also a non-photosynthesizing plant that lives in relationship with mycelium. Michael Moore discusses using this plant medicinally, but I've only admired this creature for its beauty. This photo was taken in central Utah at high elevation. 

This is the orchid I found growing just a few steps outside my cabin. I am still wondering, was I just oblivious to this delicate plant growing so near by? Or did the abundant rains inspire its growth? This is the Alaska-Rein Orchid (Piperia unalaschensis). 

I believe this is Slender Bog Orchid (Platanthera stricta). It was growing in a sub-alpine bog not too far off Hwy 20 here in Washington state. We found it while taking a short hike on our way to the Northwest Herbal Fair in Mt. Vernon this year. The clearing also boasted elephant's head, gorgeous violets, veronica species and many more floral wonders. 

This Lady's Tresses (Spiranthes romazolfiana) was a delightful surprise growing around a lake just north of Mazama, Washington. Its common name refers to the flowers looking like a woman's braid. 

These next couple of photos are photos I took this spring at the Geneva Botanical Gardens. My husband's mother lives about 45 minutes from Geneva, so we took a day trip to see the gardens. We spent five hours wandering around this spectacular park and saw a small fraction of the plants there. 

The (free) gardens were very well maintained and organized in interesting sections. They had a medicinal herb area, plants that made oils, plants that were used for fibers, etc. Of course I loved the medicinal plants area where I saw lots of plants I'd never had the chance to see in life before. 

I also loved the area where plants were arranged in areas by continent. Rather than straight garden rows these areas had been manipulated to look like more natural environments. I was able to see lots of Chinese medicinals, plants from Africa and even plants I had never seen from north america. 

Across the street from the gardens was the United Nations building. While walking around the gardens we also had the pleasure of hearing a plethora of different languages. 

Here's another variety of Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium reginae) which grows on the east coast. 

This next orchid is one of the most abundant orchids on the west coast - apparently I had to go to Geneva to find it! 

Stream Orchid (Epipactis gigantea)

How about you? Do you adore orchids? Are there any orchids growing in your area?