Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hot Spot for Orchids and Lilies

Fellow naturalists Spencer and Dalynn Dykstra showed me the spot where they recently located the California Lady's Slipper.  What a magical place.  At the edge of Caribou Road, around 4 miles off Highway 70, there's a beautiful cascade tumbling down on the left side.  What first strikes the eye are the large Western Azalea bushes. Then, when you slow down, the abundance of California Lady's Slippers jumps out.  It's a rare orchid, but there's a great concentration of them here.  We knew from this sort of habitat, there was a good possibility of finding the Stream Orchid.  At first, we found a few that were not yet blooming, blending in with grasses, sedges and Reed Lilies all around the Lady's Slippers.  Then Dalynn, exploring the roadside ditch a few yards away spotted a few that were blooming.  This is a spectacular flower, but easily overlooked because its greenish-yellow sepals blend in with the stems and leaves.  The petals, however, have brightly colored insides and are complex like most orchids.  We also found lots of Reed Lilies, also known as White-flowered Shoenolirion.  Later today, I'll post scientific names of these and other flowers we saw, plus some notes on butterflies and the Yellow-bellied Racer.  Look also on the Bloom Blog at, and Spencer's Expressions Blog on his web site, Spencer Dykstra Photography.
6/2/12  -  Better Late Than Never?
This "hot spot" might be taken for granted by anyone who lives nearby, but, then, it appeared that no one lived nearby.  If it were not for a paved road passing through, it has the feel of a truly wild place.  This despite the nearby presence of a power dam and some huge water pipes.  Anyway, here are the 'scientific' details of the flowers posted here.  The top two photos are of Stream Orchid, Epipactis gigantea.  I first discovered these last year near the Greenville Y, but have seen no signs of them yet this year.  So, it was exciting to discover this other location for them.  The third and fourth photos are of the California Lady's Slipper, Cypripedium californicum, and this was the first time I'd ever seen them.  A special thanks to Spencer and Dalynn Dykstra for showing me this place.  The fifth photo, also a new one for me, is the Reed Lily, AKA Rush Lily, AKA White-flowered Schoenolirion, Hastingsia alba.  This one was attracting a good variety of insects - bees, butterflies, hover flies, beetles, and spiders.  Some were probably casual visitors for a rest stop, some were dining on pollen and nectar, others might be serious pollinators, whether they knew it or not!  Photo #6, a dominant presence at this site, is the Western Azalea, Rhododendron occidentale.  Not only impressive-looking shrubs, but they cast a wonderful fragrance over the area.  Finally, a single blossom of the Purple Milkweed, Asclepias cordifolia, AKA Heartleaf Milkweed.  This one was photographed near Oakland Camp in Quincy.  I include it here to show the typical structure of many milkweed species for comparison purposes.  At the Orchid and Lily site described here, we found a specimen of milkweed, species as yet not known by us, that looked exactly like the Purple Milkweed, except its blossoms were pure white!  The leaves were a similar shape, too, but had no trace of purple.  Still working on this one.  Images of it in the next post.

1 comment:

  1. It's interesting - I didn't find the white milkweed at that spot when I visited over the weekend, BUT I did find the purple one at that spot, up on the bank just a few yards up the road. I'm sorry I missed the white variety!