Wildflowers

The Orchid and the Fungus

The Orchid and the Fungus

An orchid that blooms in June of each year is the pink lady slipper. This orchid interacts with a specific soil fungus that enables its seeds to sprout. Unlike most seeds that have a food supply to provide nourishment for sprouting, this orchid’s seeds need the threads of the fungus to attach to the seed […]

Saving Wild Orchids

Saving Wild Orchids

Out in eastern Long Island, New York, one summer’s day a colleague and I visited a bog surrounded by dunes to determine the health of the habitat. As we approached the area we noticed pinkish/purple flowers growing throughout the bog amongst bulrushes, sedges and wild grasses. At the fen, we discovered the flowers were part […]

Helping an Endangered Orchid

Helping an Endangered Orchid

When I worked for state parks in New York on Long Island, one of my responsibilities was to monitor the populations of rare plants. I do not recall what year it was, but it was in the 1990’s when we had a very dry summer. In July of that year, I happened across the crested […]

Wild Orchids Part 1

Wild Orchids Part 1

When you think of orchids, large showy blossoms of various colors seen in plant centers is what comes to mind to many people. But the wild orchids of the northeastern U.S. are smaller and tend to be a single color. Summer in the north is the time of year to find various species of wild […]

Candelabras of the Meadow

Candelabras of the Meadow

From Georgia to Labrador in wet meadows and fens, fuzzy white flowers clustered together grow among rushes and sedges and other wildflowers. These candle-like blossoms with compound leaves are from a plant named Canadian Burnet. These flowers, laden with pollen attract bees and other pollinators. Since it grows in acidic environments, it absorbs tannins making […]

The Clever Wildflower

This wildflower deceives tiny gnats into thinking it is a fungus to trick the insects to pollinate it. Fungus gnats seek mushrooms to lay eggs so the larvae have a food source. Jack-in-the-pulpit gives off a faint mushroom-like odor that attracts the gnats. These insects land in the spathe shaped male blossom where they become […]

How Can You Tell a Forest is Old?

How Can You Tell a Forest is Old?

If you find extensive tracts of the Wood Anemone, a small wildflower of shady deciduous woodlands, you are probably in an older, established forest. It takes about five years for anemones to flower and longer to spread through underground rhizomes. This plant prefers moist, mucky soils and in New York, I have seen it growing […]