Searching for Orchids



Recently I  went on what might be my last botany trip for a while, as Chris went to  the hospital  for hip replacement surgery and after she is released I became her manservant. So I chose to go to one of my favourite places, The Brokenhead Ecological Reserve just north of the Brokenhead Ojibway First Nation with whom Native Orchid Conservation Inc. partnered with as well as the government of Manitoba and the Manitoba Model Forest to establish a wonderful place for the protection of native plants. Not just orchids.

Every time I got there I learn something. Today I stopped to think about a posted sign created by the First Nation. This is what it said,

Our elders teach us that all nature people and people are all part of the balance of life. When something is lost or taken, the balance is changed. When we lose one part of an ecosystem we put the entire ecosystem jeopardy. There must be a balance for Mother Earth to remain healthy.

Those are wise words. Well worthy thinking about.



It was a beautiful day for a visit.  I had spotted Dragon’s Mouth orchid (Arethusa bulbosa).  It is one of the gems of the reserve.

I also  went to the nearby Stead bog where I was easier to get closer to the Dragon’s Mouth.In the Ecological Reserve we have to stick to the board walk.

I also saw  a little rabbit that was chewing on the leaves of a young seedling. Thank goodness he ignore the orchid right beside it. The rabbit also had something around its neck that I  thought it might be mounds of ticks. I hope not, because I was sure that many ticks would not be good for the rabbit. In any event the rabbit graciously allowed us to take some portraits of it.



2 thoughts on “Searching for Orchids

  1. What is an orchid? This gets a bit tricky. First, the calyx is the outer circle or series of flower parts. It is made up of sepals. Usually they are green but sometimes, as in the case of Dragon’s Mouth they are brightly coloured. Pink in this case. The corolla is the second circle or series of flower parts, made up of the petals. They are usually brightly coloured and are also pink in the case of Dragon’s Mouth.
    Like Lilies the orchid always has 3 sepals and 3 petals. In lilies the sepals are similar to the petals, but in orchids they are different in shape and function. In orchids one of the petals is modified to form a lip or labellum, which often serves as the landing pad for insects. In orchids this is the part that often stand outs even in very small flowers. In the Dragon’s Mouth shown here, the lip is the part that sticks out and has purple/pink spot and a crest of yellow hairs and wrinkled edge. The 3 sepals stick out like pink rabbit ears. 2 petals, similar to the sepals, form a hood over the showy lower lip. It is thought that from some angles the lip is like a dragon’s tongue falling out of its mouth, hence the name Dragon’s Mouth. I don’t know who named it. Scientific names are determined by scientists, but common names by convention.
    Whether or not a flower falls into the class of orchids is determined by biologists. Sometimes their decisions are controversial. For example, there are current discussions among biologists about whether or not Lady’s-slippers actually belong in the orchid family. The differences between Lady’s-slippers (Cypripedium) and other orchids have led some botanists to consider moving the lady’s-slippers out of the orchid family. This would be a monstrous crime! Akin to banishing Pluto from the class of planets. Worthy of a revolution in other words.

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