Late Season Misc.

Buffy and I went for a short hike at Stone Face, a site in the Shawnee National Forest. We headed into the woods because fallen leaves filled the creek instead of water.

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A cranefly orchid leaf (Tipularia discolor) caught my attention first.

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More leaves grew in a cluster about ten feet away.

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The dark purple underside easily identifies their leaf.

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The leaves overwinter and die back before the flowers bloom in the fall.

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A silver maple used to grow down the hill to the north of the grassy sandstone barrens on rural property I own. Conditions were right for a healthy population of cranefly orchids … like 135 leaves scattered around under it. Sizes varied. A heritage biologist told me to not let anything happen to that tree! Years later the tree died, the canopy opened up, and most of the orchids went dormant and/or died.

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Grape ferns (Botrychium dissectum) commonly grew in the woods and will remain green through the winter.

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Surprise, surprise — a nodding lady’s tresses orchid (Spiranthes cernua). Its double spiral of white flowers bloomed in October.

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Putty root orchid leaves overwinter too, with their flowers blooming May into mid June.

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Their flowers blend in with their surroundings, and

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the seed stalks remain through the winter.

Mine and Buffy’s hike lasted about an hour. We hadn’t been out for a while and had a good time. She’s about to turn 10 years old, and ran around like a young whipper snapper.

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My oldest son had a knack for finding orchids when he was in grade school. I called him my “orchidontist.” He still wears that title and calls me to report in.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. you’re lucky you found the orchids. I saw one today myself. The grape fern is interesting. I’ve never seen one.
    It sounds like you’ll have to get Buffy outside more!

    Reply

    • The fern is relatively common around here. My bruised shin (from the wreck) from the wreck hasn’t completely healed and I’m not so inclined to do any serious hiking yet.

      Reply

  2. Such interesting plants from the forest floor.

    Reply

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