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Showy Orchis Flowering

6-4-14 showy orchis 267A walk in deciduous woodlands at this time of year could result in the sighting of several species of orchids, one of which, Showy Orchis (Galearis spectabili), has a stalk of several flowers which typically bear lavender hoods (one variant is white). Potential pollinators, most of which are long-tongued bumblebees, butterflies, moths and bees, land on a white petal below the hood which acts as a “landing pad.” The insect next heads for the tip of the nectar-filled spur located at the back of the flower. In getting there it brushes against, and often picks up, packets of pollen (pollinia) before moving on to the next blossom, where cross-pollination ideally takes place. (Thanks to Ginny Barlow for photo op.)

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5 responses

  1. Tanja

    What a beautiful flower! While hiking in the woods this weekend in Massachusetts I saw a lot of what I think are Lady Slippers. Would it be possible to send you a picture to confirm?

    June 3, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    • Tanja, if you email me at so that I have your email address, I’d be happy to send you a picture — or if you took one, you could send it to me and I could i.d. it. Mary

      June 3, 2014 at 6:36 pm

  2. Susan Hayward

    Mary, While in the Great Smokey Mountain National Park last month, I saw a bee butt sticking out of the /Galearis/ along the trail. So I stopped and watched and was rewarded with this bee, so laden with pollen, that it couldn’t fly well and fell to the duff below long enough for me to photograph it. Susan Hayward Maine Master Naturalist Progr

    June 3, 2014 at 3:41 pm

  3. Never seen one of these – so gorgeous!

    June 4, 2014 at 2:49 am

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