Missouri Orchids – Corallorhiza wisteriana (Wister’s coralroot)

Wister’s coralroot, Corallorhiza wisteriana – a single bloom. It is typical for the sepals and petals of this species flowers to not fully open.

The year 2020 has been smiling upon me with my attempts at photographing all the orchid species of Missouri. So far this year I have seen five new orchids and have photographed three of them in bloom. The focus of today’s post, Corallorhiza wisteriana, is known by its common names Wister’s coralroot or spring coralroot. The name coralroot is used due to the apparent likeness and growth habit of the plant’s rhizomes to undersea coral. There is one other known coralroot that I need to photograph in Missouri, that is the autumn coralroot, C. odontorhiza that I hope to photograph when it blooms this fall.

Wister’s coralroot, Corallorhiza wisteriana – raceme

C. wisteriana is one of, if not the earliest orchid to bloom in the state. Going by the number of posts from folks on Facebook, and the fact that I and a couple of friends found well over one hundred stems with just a few minutes of searching, this species is having a terrific year.

Wister’s coralroot, Corallorhiza wisteriana – raceme pair

This orchid is small, with a lowercase s. The leafless stems can grow 10 to 35 cm high and an individual flower when open  is only but ~ 8 mm long – A challenge to photograph. I anticipated this, but what surprised me is its showiness. Looking closely, this plant is beautiful, with many stems and flowers colored deeply with maroons and purples and the labellum/lip with purple spots on white.

Wister’s coralroot, Corallorhiza wisteriana – a small colony

I found these flowering stems in singles, pairs and large-sized colonial groups. Typically, stems from these close groupings will be from the same plant. Below is from the largest colony I saw this spring.

Wister’s coralroot, Corallorhiza wisteriana – a larger colony

Corallorhiza orchids are considered to be ‘myco-heterotrophic’ plants, meaning these plants parasitize mycorrhizal fungi (fungi that get their carbon needs from symbiotic relationships with green plants) to get their primary nutrients. Therefore these orchids contain little to no chlorphyll, do not produce leaves and photosynthesis is a very negligible part of how they make their living.

Wister’s coralroot, Corallorhiza wisteriana – an aberrant raceme.

The photo above shows an aberrant flowering stem – the only one I found, that was very lightly colored and that had no spots on the labellum whatsoever. After realizing how strange this was, I went back to it a few days later to better photograph the whole stem. Alas, the stem was smashed because this was located on the very edge of the trail.

Even little things need a hiding place.

The preceding photo shows a hymenopteran nymph (~5 mm in length) that is hiding underneath this flower’s lip. I am unsure whether or not  this insect is responsible for the webs seen here. These threads were often seen covering these orchids.

Wister’s coralroot, Corallorhiza wisteriana – a typical flower in profile.

I hope you enjoyed getting to know this little beauty. Stay tuned for more orchid profiles in the near future!

Return to Black Mountain Cascades

Black Mountain Cascades, March 2020
Camera settings: f/11, 1/3 sec., ISO-250, 17mm focal length.

I’ve posted images of the cascades on Black Mountain before. After some good rains, Casey and I visited this past March with hopes of making it to the top. This is not an easy hike, but Casey had not yet seen most of the cascades. This was our intention, but it was quickly realized that the overcast afternoon we were promised was not going to be. So, we utilized the few clouds remaining to the best of our ability and climbed high enough to find some falls hidden behind canyon walls that blocked the harsh afternoon sun.

Black Mountain Cascades, March 2020 Camera settings: f/11, 1/2 sec., ISO-100, 24 mm focal length.
Black Mountain Cascades, March 2020 Camera settings: f/11, 0.6 sec., ISO-100, 24 mm focal length.
Black Mountain Cascades, March 2020 Camera settings: f/14, 1/2 sec., ISO-200, 25 mm focal length.
Black Mountain Cascades, March 2020 Camera settings: f/14, 1/2 sec., ISO-100, 20 mm focal length.

Tragidion coquus – Second Time!

Tragidion coquus female photographed at Hughes Mountain Natural Area, Sep. 28, 2019.
f/18, 1/30 sec., ISO-400, 234 mm focal length equivalent

For the second year in a row, a special beetle that has been described by our own Ted MacRae as “one of the rarest and most beautiful species of longhorned beetle to occur in Missouri” was found during the joint field trip of the WGNSS Entomology and Nature Photography groups at Hughes Mountain Natural Area. Tragidion coquus, purported to be spider wasp mimics, mine in dead oak branches and can be found in flight between June and November.  I wasn’t happy with my photos of last year’s specimen (also a female), so I was thrilled to be able to take the time and set her on some foliage with fall colors. It was an almost disaster as she was able to take flight before we were finished. But, having the quick reflexes of a Marvel superhero, I was able to catch her out of the air with a quick grab with just a slight kink in her antennae in consequence.

Tragidion coquus female photographed at Hughes Mountain Natural Area, Sep. 28, 2019. f/14, 1/60 sec., ISO-400, 234 mm focal length equivalent

 

Return to Vilander Bluff

Autumn View of Vilander Bluff
f/11, ISO-160, 32 mm focal length, three exposure blend of 1/60, 1/15, 1/4 sec.

I had a great time introducing some photographer friends of mine to one of my favorite places in the state, Vilander Bluff. With the largest bluffs on the Meramec River, to get the type of view seen here requires a little bit of effort. Dave and I put in some work in finding this new-to-me perspective that was well worth the bit of effort and risk. Next time we’ll need to bring climbing ropes…

Blazing Maple
f/5.6, 1/6 sec., ISO-1250, 45 mm focal length

Wallen Creek Shut-ins

Wallen Creek Shut-ins. Getting it all in.
f/14, 1/2 sec., ISO-200, 29 mm focal length.

Many thanks to Casey Galvin tracking this one down and to the property owners allowing us access.

Wallen Creek Shut-ins.
f 5.6, 1/10 sec., ISO-100, (0 mm focal length.
Wallen Creek Shut-ins.
f/11, 1/2 sec., ISO-125, 90 mm focal length, vertical stitch of three images.
Wallen Creek Shut-ins
f/8, 1/5 sec., ISO-160, 90 mm focal length.
Wallen Creek Shut-ins swirling
f/14, 15 sec., ISO-200, 19 mm focal length.

Missouri Orchids – Spiranthes lacera (slender ladies tresses)

Spiranthes lacera, St. Francois Co, MO. f/16, 1/50 sec., ISO-640, 234 mm focal length equivalent

I only managed to photograph one of the Spiranthes this year. I had opportunities for others, but I just couldn’t get to the right place at the right time. Good news is that it shouldn’t be too difficult to add them next year.

Spiranthes lacera, St. Francois Co, MO. f/16, 1/60 sec., ISO-640, 234 mm focal length equivalent

A bit closer really shows off the delicate details in flower and twisting stem.

Spiranthes lacera with passenger, St. Francois Co, MO. f/16, 1/50 sec., ISO-640, 234 mm focal length equivalent