We went on an orchid hunt earlier this week.
When you mention Appalachia, not many people think–oh, great place to find orchids. But it IS. And I love that.
Of course, if you spend much time around this blog or over on my Facebook or Instagram pages you know I’m crazy for Appalachian wildflowers. Sometimes I have to remind myself to stop posting so many flower pictures so I can mention my books. (I write novels–you knew that–right?)
Anyway. On Monday we set off in search of the elusive (at least around here) yellow lady slipper. A friend from the trails tipped us off as to the location and we were pretty confident we could find it. Normally, I’m happy taking the gentler, more circuitous route up the mountain. It takes longer but I pant less. On Monday we took the direct route. It was just under two miles but my tracker claimed it was equivalent to 45 flights of stairs and I believe it!
And there they were. At first glance it would have been easy to mistake them for dapples of sunlight in the lush, green growth that’s spring in these mountains. But no, it was three sunshine-yellow slippers. Hurrah!
And here’s the really fun part! On the way up the mountain, I saw probably ten putty root orchids. These are much more subtle blooms with a single stem supporting up to a dozen or more small flowers. Its unromantic name comes from the fact that if you dig up the root and mash it, you’ll get a sticky substance.
Then, after seeing the yellow lady slippers, we hiked on up to the ridge (in for a penny . . . ) and found two colonies of pink lady slippers–both with more than a dozen flowers! All in all, well worth the workout.
Other orchids I often see in our mountains include showy orchis, coral root, and downy rattlesnake (I know–WHO names these things??). That last one really doesn’t look like much, but an orchid it remains.
Ones I HOPE to see one day include the showy lady slipper (pink on the bottom, white on top), bog pogonias, and a whole world of fringed orchids. Hey, it’s good to have something to keep me tramping up and down mountains–right?
How about you–have you ever seen a while orchid?