Tag Archives: orchid

Discovery Day at Brokenhead Wetlands Interpretive Trail



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.

Old Man nearly Dies of Heat Exhaustion but survives to celebrate whats right with the world



I took this photograph of an orchid yesterday and it is already one my favourite orchid images  ever. It is Dragon’s Mouth (Arethusa bulbosa) the star of the Brokenhead Wetland Ecological Reserve.        

Yesterday, after I found the Moccasin-flower, that I blogged about, I moved to the Brokenhead Wetlands Ecological Reserve, one of my favorite places in the world. Today it was resplendent.

I met people in the parking lot who assured me there were not mosquitoes in the bog. That was a relief for it allowed me to remove my leggings. It was 31ºC and humid (as bogs always are) so I did not relish continuing in the heat with long pants.  Had I not removed them I feared that tomorrow there might be a headline in the Winnipeg Free Press“Old man dies of heat exhaustion in bog.” Or perhaps “Crazy old man…”

At the edge of the fen I spotted a wonderful Dragon’s Mouth(Arethusa bulbosa) orchid, the star of the show. This was the headliner and for good reason. It is a wonderful flower clad in magnificent pink. This is certainly one of my favorite orchids.

I was very pleasantly surprised by the number of cars in the parking lot and number of people I met along the trail. The trail is obviously being well used and everyone I talked to loved the area.   Even the children were interested in the bog. I noticed they spent a lot of time there, often lying on the boardwalk peering down into the bog.


I was surprised to see Small Round-leaved Orchid (Galearis rotundifolia) as it is now called. It looked like the flowers had just recently emerged. I tried to get a photograph but it was very difficult to do that from the boardwalk. What a pity. My photographs were not very good, but it was the best I could do.


This is the smallest of Manitoba’s Lady’s-slippers. A mosquito looks like a giant on it. This is the very rare Ram’s head Lady’s-slipper .  Last year members of the North American Orchid Conference group of which I am a member came here for their annual conference and seeing this was high on the agenda of most attendees.

Today was a strange day. It was extremely hot. So hot I actually stopped photographing Arethusa bulbosa before I really exhausted the Stead site. That is a sin. But I was just plain tired. Added to that, it was windy and I had a lot of trouble getting the right focus.  My recent cataract surgery did not help. Partly that is because my “improved” eye is so much better that my glasses subscription is wrong and that eye is still blurry.  So I had to reject a lot of images. Yet I also captured some  images that pleased me a lot! I am confused, but very happy with the “keepers” I got. It was a great day in the hot bog.

Thus ended one of my finest days in the bog ever. Despite my cataracts, the wind, and excess sun I did my best to capture some images. Today I was able to celebrate what’s right with the world as the photographer DeWitt Jones always recommends. It was all good.



Today I went in search of more orchids. I started out at Belair Provincial Forest. The orchids I was looking for reside in dry pine forests, unlike most other Manitoba orchids. It was extremely hot today. In fact it was so hot even the mosquitos did not venture out. Only mad dogs and orchid nuts go out in the mid day sun.

I found what I was looking for.  Moccasin-flower or Pink Lady’s-slipper as it is sometimes called. I don’t really think they look pink. More maroon I would say.

The name for orchids is derived from the Greek word ὄρχις (orchis)which means testicle. Looking at the moccasin flower you might think you knew why. But you would be wrong.  The name actually was used in reference to the underground tuberoids of orchis that are supposed to resemble testicles.

Orchids created by adultery (sort of)


Sometimes the orchid world reveals sins. Those sins include deception, trickery or adultery.  Previously I have shown you Small White Lady’s Slipper and Large or Small Yellow Lady’s Slippers.  The Whites are very rare. But there is something even more rare hybrids between the Whties and the Yellows. These are created by adulterous relations between 2 different species that have produced offspring.


The offspring are called Cypripedium Xandrewsii.   Last year I had the fortune to see these in Manitoba. You can see that their colour is sort of a creamy white from the different shades of the two parents.



Today I made my third attempt to locate and photograph the lovely native orchid—Calypso or Fairy-slipper. Finally it made its appearance. It was the first orchid of the year. Twice before I drove all the way to the Sandilands only to be disappointed. There was no disappointment today.  as a result, there was rejoicing at the Neufeld residence, sort of like the rejoicing in heaven when the prodigal son returned.

This is a tiny but lovely orchid. Perhaps the most lovely.  I really cannot say which is my favorite orchid. Asking me what my favorite orchid is would be like asking me who is my favorite son or favorite grandchild. But this one is certainly in the running.

One unusual thing about this orchid is that it has only one leaf and that appears at the base in the autumn. It remains green all winter long on the ground at the base of the flower underneath the snow. What is up with that?