A Gem in the Bog: Well worth the trips



A couple of days after seeing Calypso in bloom, I found a window of opportunity just before impending rain for 7 days to return. I jumped at the opportunity and headed out to the Hadashville bog in search of calypso in bloom. Today I wanted the real thing, flowers in bloom. This was my 4th attempt to find these flowers in bloom this spring and I was finally lucky.


Calypso (Calypso bulbosa) is usually one of the first of Manitoba’s orchid to bloom each year and is also one of its most beautiful. Calypso is a tiny little flower and hence difficult to find. While the flower is slipper shaped it is not a member of the lady’s-slipper (Cypripedium) family (genus). It is a member of the Calypso genus. It is named after the sea nymph Calypso of Homer’s Odyssey who kept Ulysses hidden on her island for 7 years.

The Greek word Kalypso means “hiding.”  Presumably that refers to its habit. It likes dark bogs such as I visited today.  Not much light enters here so I needed a tripod to photograph it. I always prefer a tripod anyways for flower pictures to ensure sharp focus. That is very difficult to achieve because the range of focus for such small flowers is very narrow.


You can see the narrow range of focus on this photo. The second flower to the right is deliberately out of focus even though it is only inches farther away than the one to the right

There are a couple of odd things about this orchid, besides its stunning beauty. It does not have close relatives. In other words, it is the only member of its genus. How can you have a family with only 1 member? I am not sure how that works.

One other odd thing about this gem of a flower is it has only 1 leaf which appears in autumn then lies dormant under the snow all winter but remains green! Then in spring shortly after the flower appears, the leaf withers until the next fall.

I will never forget the first time I saw this flower.  I was stunned by a flower so small with so much beauty. How is that possible? It really needs a an extreme close-up, preferably with a macro lens. Nothing else will do it justice.


It was a great venture. This bog is a little more than an hour from my home and I had to make 4 trips to see these flowers. There were only 10 of them at the site. Well worth the trips.


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