I am a bog guy. By that I really mean wetland guy. There are many types of wetland, including fens, swamps, marshes, bogs and others. Today I am lumping them all together as bogs. I like them all. And I know that is strange.
I drove to Birds Hill Provincial Park for a hike down the Cedar Bog Trail. I had not been there in years. It was great to return. this is usually a very easy walk as by bog standards it is mighty tame. Today however, it was really boggy. I had not worn rubber boats because I thought I was safe without them on a park trail. I thought wrong. Again.
I stopped to photograph Yellow Lady’s-slippers and thought they were large yellow lady’s-slippers at first but then concluded that they were large Yellow Lady’s-slippers. It is difficult to tell them apart. I concluded it was likely Northern Small Yellow lady’s-slipper (Cypripedium parvi florum Salisbury var. makasin (Farwell) Sheviak). The origin of the name scientific name is from the Latin words parvi meaning “small” and florum meaning “flower”. The varietal name makasin is the Algonquin name for the shoe-shaped flowers. It is like a moccasin in other words, though not to be confused with Moccasin Lady’s-slipper. I also like the fact that the name “Sheviak” in the scientific name is likely named after Charles Sheviak a famous botanist that I had the pleasure of guiding in the Woodridge bog a few years ago. That is like carrying a glove for Mickey Mantle. My life was complete.
I was reasonably happy with the photographs I captured of this flower. Frankly, for some reason, I or my camera, I am not sure which, have a lot of trouble with yellow flowers. I have no idea why that is the case, but it is real. Usually my yellow flowers are either washed out or have highlight reflections that make parts of the flower look white. Not good to have white on a yellow flower. I wanted what Donovan called “electrical banana” in his goofy song “Mellow Yellow.” Quite rightly!
The colours on the Marsh marigold (Caltha palustris) stood out today. Perhaps, because they were located deep in a boggy woods that contrasted magnificently with their yellow. This is a brilliant flower, but rarely have I captured it. I think this is my best shot of it ever. Sometimes in a deep bog I have encountered some water, like a small slough or pond ringed by these yellow gems and it makes for a glorious sight. It is like a golden outline of the water. John Boroughs described it as “a golden lining to many a dark, marshy place in the leafless April woods or [mark] a little water course through a greening meadow with a broad line of new gold.” What a great description. According to Jack Sanders in his wonderful book The Secrets of Wildflowers, “to some Indian tribes, the plant was called by a name that translates almost poetically as ‘opens the swamps’. My only quarrel with that suggestion is the word “almost” which surely could be dropped.
Sanders also commented on the fact that some call it “Cowslips.” I refuse to call it that because at least in North America so many flowers are given that name that it makes no sense to use it. As Sanders said, “A flower so early, common, and bright is bound to be well known and consequently picks up many names. Among people here and in Europe—it is native to both continents as well as to Asia—the plant has been known as King cups, water blobs, May blobs, molly blobs, horse blobs, bull’s eyes, leopard’s foot, water gowan, meadow gowan, Marybuds, verrucaria, solsequia, water dragon, capers, cowlily, cowbloom, soldier buttons, palsywort, great bitterflower, meadow bouts, crazy bet, gools, water crowfoot, and meadow buttercups. That is about as impressive a collection of names for one flower that I have ever encountered!
The last flower I found I believe was Nodding chickweed (Cerastium nutans). I asked my friends at Manitoba Wildflowers for comments about whether I was right or wrong when I suggested this name. Since no one posted I am claiming it as a definite Nodding chickweed. See how easy this plant identification is? Shakespeare called them Marbuds when he said said, “Winking Marybuds begin to ope their golden eyes.”