Dragon’s Mouth


There are some spectacular beauties in the bogs of Manitoba.  One of them is an orchid called Dragon’s Mouth.

After visiting the Brokenhead ecological reserve where I am not allowed to get off the trail, in order  to protect the flowers of course,  I went to another spot nearby where I had no such restrictions. Only fools go to such places. People like me. This allowed me to get very close to a spectacular Manitoba orchid—Dragon’s Mouth (Arethusa bulbosa). This year, the one’s in the reserve were not close enough to the boardwalk to photograph. Some years they have been much closer.


The Genus Arethusa to which this flower belongs is named after Arethusa of Greek mythology. Arethusa was a river nymph in the service of Artemis, goddess of the moon, and patroness of unmarried girls and  chastity. This gave her awesome responsibilities of course. One day when Arethusa was bathing in the river she was spotted by the river god Alpheus who naturally pursued her. This required her god Artemis to change into a spring to rescue her from her distress.

This is an interesting genus because there is only one species in the genus bulbosa is it. Sadly, like so many of our orchids these are declining in numbers because the wetlands in which they live are constantly being drained in the name of progress. Can you imagine a world without these gems? It would certainly be much poorer. Is that progress?

According to William Petrie’s Guide to Orchids of North America, “the flower gives the impression of being alive and listening  and reminds one of a small creature with erect ears and drooping tongue.”  I think this is a lovely description of this beautiful plant, except that it suggests the flower is not alive. It is certainly alive. Only a cretan would deny that.


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