I led the Steinbach Garden Club to the Brokenhead Wetlands Interpretive Trail today. We saw 10 different types of orchids in bloom, plus 1 that was spent showing just its seed capsule. The Brokenhead Wetlands is one of the premier sites for orchids and other wild flowers in Manitoba. It contains 28 of Manitoba’s 37 orchids.
The 37 orchids of Manitoba range from gorgeous large Showy Lady’s-slippers to Coral-roots that have no leaves and produce no chlorophyll and hence no food. Instead they depend on mycorrhizal partners for sustenance. Manitoba produces 3 Coral-roots. This is spotted Coral-root, my favourite.
The Ecological Reserve contains 23 of Manitoba’s rare and uncommon plants including 8 of Manitoba’s carnivorous plants. If you look carefully you will see 2 of Manitoba’s sundews on this photo. Sundew leaves are covered with hairs that secret a shiny substance to attract unwary insects and then aids in their digestion. This is one of those cases where the plant world turns the tables on the insects, which usually eat the plants. When the hapless insect has been digested all that is left is the dry exoskeleton. I saw one plant that was rolled up around its prey. Later it will unfurl again, leaving the remains to blow away in the wind.
Dragon’s Mouth orchid (Arethusa bulbosa) was the highlight. It i certainly one of Manitoba’s most beautiful orchids. Last week I went there and was very happy to see Dragon’s Mouth in glorious bloom. I thought the Garden club would not be able to see them this week. Thankfully, I was wrong. There were even more in bloom than last week and some, very cooperatively, were right beside the boardwalk.
It was difficult to photograph the tiny Small Round-leaved orchid as it was blowing in the wind. Fortunately I found one that was deep in the forest and hence somewhat protected from annoying wind.
The Showy Lady’s-slipper (Cypripedium reginae) just emerged. This truly is the Queen of orchids in Manitoba.
It was a great day in the bog.