The second new “Missouri” orchid I came across on Casey’s and my trip through Arkansas in May was the Calopogon oklahomensis, the Oklahoma Grass Pink. This is a sister species to C. tuberosus, the Grass Pink, and likewise has the odd non-resupinate flower, meaning the flower pedicle does not twist and the lip is on the top side of the flower, an odd arrangement for orchids. Whereas C. tuberosus prefers wet feet and is typically found in fens, wet meadows and prairies, C. oklahomensis prefers drier feet and is found in more mesic prairies, savannas and open woods.
The orchids seen here were photographed in a prairie in Prairie County, AR. This location was a real treat, with hundreds of orchids and a variety of colorations. I wish we could have spent more time here photographing all the variations, but there were miles to be driven yet on this day.
I have one more lady’s slipper orchid to share this year. I cannot count this one for my Missouri orchid list, but it is one hell of a slipper. The Kentucky lady’s slipper (Cypripedium kentuckiense) has the largest bloom of any in the Cypripedium genus and has nice diversity in colors and patterns. This is an orchid of the southeastern U.S. It has not yet been documented in Missouri, but can be found in the contiguous states of Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Oklahoma. Casey and I found these with some help in May in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas.
I shared images of this orchid last year. However, with an opportunity to visit one of its special homes this past weekend with a couple of friends, I couldn’t pass up the chance to see them again. I’ll be sharing photos of new orchids soon.
In my 15 or so years of paying attention to important things like this, I have never seen spring ephemerals having a better year than this one. Places within the St. Louis metro area, such as Englemann Woods Natural area and Beckemeier Conservation Area are loaded with wildflowers right now. Whether this is because of the cool and mild spring we have been having so far, or some other reasons, I don’t know. Here are a few photos taken this week at Beckemeier C.A. I hope you get out to enjoy these yourself.
I was thrilled to be able to photograph this stunner of an orchid this past spring. Thanks to Casey Galvin who turned me on to this tiny population in Shannon County, MO.
The Showy Lady’s Slipper is currently ranked as S2/S3 in Missouri, meaning this species is imperiled/vulnerable. We carefully tread around these guys and hide their specific locations as this is a species that may still be poached for horticulture purposes.
Here is a series of the freshly blooming Fragrant Water Lilies (Nymphaeaceae – Nymphaea odorata) taken at Shaw Nature Reserve this past summer. I converted these to look like oil paintings using Photoshop CS6.
This plant uses an interesting pollination strategy. Insects are attracted to the flower and land on the concave tip of the ovary which contains a small amount of liquid. If the insect has visited another lily flower previously, then the pollen it is carrying gets washed off in this fluid and pollinates the flower. Often, the insect pollinator (usually small, native bees) will not be able to escape this small pool before the flower closes for the night and will therefore drown. See Steyermark’s Flora of Missouri by George Yatskievych for more details on these interesting wetland plants.
Thanks for visiting…
Another common visitor to native wildflower gardens are metallic sweat bees (Halictidae: Agapostemon sp.) such as the one posted here. Most species are quite small and are usually very active. It is best to try and photograph these guys (like most insects) at first light on a relatively cool morning.