Lovely woodland orchid

During my recent visit to Ann Lee Pond Nature and Historic Preserve, I was pleasantly surprised to find a couple of Early Azalea blooms that had opened, but disappointed that I saw only a couple of Pink Lady’s Slipper plants.  Thinking that they should be blooming at this time, I headed to a different destination today (and had a couple of other back-up sites in mind as well) to hopefully see some in bloom.

I was not disappointed on this outing!

I strolled the one-mile loop trail at Ushers Road State Forest in the Towns of Clifton Park and Halfmoon and found several of these beautiful orchids in full bloom.  Magnificent!  See for yourself –

Pink Lady’s-slipper

View a very brief video of a showy pair of blooms.

Pink Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium acaule), also commonly called Moccasin Flower, is widely distributed across the eastern United States.  It produces two basal leaves and a solitary flower with purplish brown to green petals and sepals.  The distinctive flower, called a labellum, is an inflated pouch, often light pink with darker pink venation.  A slit with inwardly rolled edges marks the front of the labellum, which resembles a moccasin. It is found in forests and woodlands, often near pines or conifers.

Despite its widespread distribution, one rarely sees numerous blooms in any given spot and often not in any given year.  For me, that’s what makes finding any of these beautiful plants in bloom a real visual treat.  It can take three years from germination before a seedling first appears above ground.  Another three to five years may pass before it’s mature enough to flower.  Once the plant is established, it lives for an average of two to three decades, flowering every few years or so.

I also observed these blooming beauties along my route –

Yellow Clintonia

Painted Trillium

Indian Cucumber Root

Indian Cucumber Root

These sunny days will not disappoint if you can find time for even a short hike at any of these other destinations where I’ve also observed Pink Lady’s Slipper.  Enjoy!

Happy trails!

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