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Nova Scotia Orchids.

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It will probably come as a surprise to many people that orchids grow in Nova Scotia. When most people think of orchids they usually think of hot tropical countries enjoying less climatic extremes than we have to endure. In fact Nova Scotia is home to no less than 39 orchids. As is the case with most things in Nature the environment they choose to live in is very exacting and if that environment is changed or destroyed then in effect their"home" has been taken away from them and they will find it difficult to survive. In this way plants animals and humans are no different. What makes it even more difficult for orchids to thrive is their dependance on various substrates. That is, if the soil is alkaline,acidic or neutral.Some orchids have a liking for acidic soils and some prefer soils that are more alkaline. What complicates matters even further for ALL the various species of orchids we have in Nova Scotia is also their dependence on various fungi for survival. This dependence is known as mycorrhizal association.
The number of seeds in an orchid seedpod may number more than 2,000,000.  As you can readily appreciate the seeds are extremely small and unfortunately contain very little nutritive material, and as such they depend on fungi to obtain the nutrition they need to germinate.

A tall plant-20 inches or more.
Large Round Leaved Orchid, Platanthera orbiculata.

Many seed pods awaiting wind dispersal.
Seedpods of theLarge Round Leaved Orchid, Platanthera orbiculata.

Huge dinner plate size leaves.
Showing the enormous basal leaves of the Large Round Leaved Orchid, Platanthera orbiculata.

Pictured above is the Large Round Leaved Orchid, Platanthera orbiculata. This orchid is our biggest orchid and is rather rare. As a bonus there were two of them within two feet of each other but only one had apparently flowered the other having only the tell tale huge basal leaves.  For me, this orchid has been very elusive to find. When I did find it the flowers had wilted and it had a fine mass of seedpods ready to be dispersed in to the wind. It grows to a height of about 20 inches and has enormous opposite basal leaves (shown above with $5 bill). The above photographs were taken on 28th August 2007 and unfortunately I was too late to see P.orbiculata in flower. However, I recorded the position in my GPS and went back the first week of July in 2008. One plant was about 4 inches high at the time (the other refusing to erupt again) but some animal had apparently trod on it and it wasn't in very good shape. Unfortunately it did not survive the trauma.

In 2009,2010 and 2011 both plants refused to flower.

Almost resigning myself to defeat I headed off in to the woods on 29 May 2012 and "visited my orchids". To my delight both of them had ereupted and were about four inches(100mm high). So I did what I normally do, I started taking photographs. Thereafter I "visited" on the 15 June, 29 June, 7July and finally on the 13 July (Friday the 13th) I was rewarded for my patience with both of them in full flower. One plant was 320mm(13 inches) high and the other 450mm(18 inches) high. There are two varieties of Platanthera orbiculata. One is P.orbiculata the other is P.orbiculata var macrophylla. The one that I had found was var macrophylla, this was indicated to me by the length and inclination of the floral spur. The spurs measured approximately 35mm(1.5inches) whereas in the other variety they measure 28mm(1.12inches) or less. The spur in macrophylla also extends horizontally whereas the other tends to a vertical bent.

2013 UPDATE.

Just when I thought that there were no surprises left I decided to visit "my orchids" in 2013. What I found ,or rather did not find,took me by complete surprise. After my visits in 2009,10 and 11 that produced no flowering plants but only leaves I wondered what 2013 would hold for me after the flowering success of both plants in 2012.I was stunned by what I saw,nothing,absolutely nothing!. A complete absence of the plants,no leaves,nothing. It was as if they had never been there! I thought I may have mistimed my visit so I went twice more to the site a little later and the story was still the same,nothing!

I have approached several experts in the field of wildflowers and fungi and none have been able to offer an explanation as to the development(or non development) of these two plants over the period 2007-2013.

If anyone can offer a plausible explanation I would be most interested and very grateful.

Platanthera orbiculata var macrophylla 29 May 2012

Platanthera orbiculata var macrophylla 15June 2012

Platanthera orbiculata var macrophylla 29June 2012

Platanthera orbiculata var macrophylla 7July 2012

Platanthera orbiculata var macrophylla 13July 2012

Above and at right is what I had waited to see since 2007. What a tragedy it would be if this and other wonderful orchids that we have in Nova Scotia are lost to the greed of a few at the hands of the clearcutters.

Platanthera orbiculata var macrophylla 13July 2012

Grass Pink, Calopogon tuberosus.

Grass Pink,Calopogon tuberosus.

Fortunately not all my luck has been bad. I have been lucky enough on many occasions to be in the right place at the right time.
At left, is one of our more appealing and beautiful orchids. The Grass Pink,Calopogon tuberosus. The Grass Pink likes to grow in sphagnum bogs. Also, if you are very lucky(as I was) you may also encounter at the same time The Dragon's Mouth Orchid, Arethusa bulbosa since their flowering periods overlap,with the "dragon" being the first to flower.
Photographs of all the orchids I have been fortunate enough to find are on the full version of my DVD "Wildflowers of Nova Scotia, A Pictorial Guide"" which you can take a sneak preview of by clicking here. The full DVD contains almost 320 species and over 940 photographs.

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All photographs on this site have been taken by myself and are copyright. Copying images from this site is illegal.