Zenfolio | Bruce Fellman | Orchid appreciation

Orchid appreciation

August 12, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

There's a field close to the Lantern Hill trailhead that I explore every time before I do a climb, and in mid-August, the object of my search is a member of the orchid genus Spiranthes. The Ladies'-tresses orchids are pretty little things that grow in spikes with each complicated flower arrayed in a single or double spiral. This one, I'm pretty sure, is a Southern Slender Ladies'-tresses—Ladies'- tress?—a.k.a. Spiranthes lacera, and though there is also a northern species, many experts lump the two of them together and give the one found in our region a variety name, gracilis, and call the northern one, variety lacera. Whatever the designation, the reliable field mark for the species is that green blush on the lower lip of the flower. I'm glad I thought to look for it, because without a close read, I probably would have brushed right by this crab spider, which was lying in wait for bees and flower flies bent on performing pollination duties and reaping nectar rewards. The spider, an ambush predator, did not spot any prey while I watched it watching me, but it was patient. So was I, but perhaps it knew that I'd leave eventually, and then it was back to business as usual, as the pollinators came back.


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