|MOCCASIN FLOWER, A NATIVE ORCHID|
|WINTERGREEN: AROMATIC EVERGREEN LEAVES AND EDIBLE RED BERRY.|
Thursday, 8:30 AM. 66 degrees F at the ferry dock, 62 on the back porch. Wind WNW, mostly calm with very light gusts. The sky is overcast, the humidity 79%. The barometer is steady, at 29.65". Mixed skies, highs in the mid-sixties to seventy with chances of rain are predicted for the next ten days.
The moccasin flower, Cyprepedium acaule, in the Lily Family, is an orchid native to much of Canada and most of the eastern half of the U S. Its habitat is boreal and deciduous forest floors and edges. This is one of several found near the Onion River parking area.
Moccasin flower is not truly rare or endangered, but it is not common, and a real treat to see in bloom. The greatest threat to this orchid is gardeners digging it up to transplant in their gardens, a process the plants seldom survive. Unless their habitat is in immediate danger of being completely destroyed, they and most other wild plants should be left alone and in place. The plant has two stemless basal leaves (acaule, Latin, without a stem), with strong parallel venation. It is pollinated by bees which are attracted by its fragrance. Like other orchids, Cyprepedium relies on a symbiosis with a soil fungus to germinate seeds and complete its life cycle.
Wintergreen, Gaultheria procumbens, in the Heath Family (Ericaceae) is growing in association with the moccasin flower. It is also known as teaberry, as the dried leaves and stems make a good tea. The berries are also edible and are eaten by birds, and the plant is good winter browse for whitetail deer. It is native under oaks and conifers in northeastern North America and the Appalachian Mountains.
A number of other wildflowers, no longer flowering, were also present.