Calypso

Deep in the woods this week I found a delightful sight — a single Calypso orchid in a bed of moss. This is only the second time I’ve found this little flower on our place and each time it has filled me with joy.

I saw my first-ever Calypso decades ago in Yoho National Park. Until then I assumed that all orchids were hot-house beauties, unable to withstand the rigours of outdoor life. They couldn’t possibly survive a Rocky Mountain winter. But survive they do.

Luckily, as one park staff person said at the time, they bloomed before most tourists arrived otherwise they would suffer at the hands of flower pickers. These little orchids are delicate — picking the flower is often enough to pull up the bulb-like corm and then the plant will most likely die. It doesn’t transplant well either as it depends on special fungi in the soil.

Calypso produces only a single pair of leaves

Calypso, named for the sea nymph in Homer’s Odyssey, is also known as Venus’s slipper and fairy slipper.

Each plant produces a single flower

So far I’ve found 3 orchid species in the woods — last year it was pale coralroot and spotted coralroot. This year, Calypso.

Pick the flower or pull up the bulb and the plant will die

Orchids in the woods? Wonderful!


Calypso   Calypso bulbosa

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8 thoughts on “Calypso

  1. Your photos are superb! (As is the subject!)
    It’s especially wonderful to find a wild orchid, isn’t it! Our areas (I live in northwest Montana) share a lot of similarity, and over the years I have found and photographed 8 species of wild orchid, so I think you still have much to look forward to!

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    1. Thanks for the kind words. They mean a lot from someone who turns out such gorgeous photos (love those Indian paintbrush!) I acquired a Sony A6000 a few months back and am still learning what it will (and won’t) do compared to my previous camera. What camera/lenses are you using?

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      1. A blogging friend who lives in Melbourne uses a Sony A6000 too and she likes it very much and has taken some excellent photos with it. It takes a long time (and many photos) to figure out everything that a camera’s design engineers had in mind when they created it.

        I have used a Nikon D80 for many years with a 60mm Nikkor close-up lens as well as a 70-300mm telephoto along with the stock lens for general landscapes. I still love it except that it weighs a lot for carrying on the more aggressive hikes. Lately I have been also using a Nikon 1 J5 mirrorless camera that weighs only a half pound but has a lot of capability. Nearly all of the photos that I have posted in the last year came from it. I mostly use a 10-30mm zoom lens and add a 10mm extension tube for photos of the tiniest wildflowers.

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      2. Thanks for your thoughts on cameras. When my Canon PowerShot G12 died I chose the Sony for its size — my first experience with mirrorless. Like you I don’t want to carry a lot of weight when I hike. I’m looking into extension tubes right now as Sony’s macro lens seems to get less than stunning reviews. So the learning curve keeps creeping (and some days leaping) upward! 🙂

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  2. Oh, lucky you, how exciting! It is just beautiful. I’ve heard of it and I supposed I’ve seen photos but yours are really terrific. I’m glad you spotted it, and thanks for bending down! 😉 There’s nothing like a pretty, delicate flower blooming in moss….

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    1. They capture my heart each time I find one – and it was only one this year. I’ve gone back several times to look at it. Today? The “slipper” has turned upright and the faded petals have wrapped around it. If all I’d seen was this I wouldn’t have recognized it. Change is all around.

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