August: Orchid Days

So… what’s wonderful enough to pry you away from air conditioning and get you hiking in the sauna conditions of mid-August in Louisiana?

Yellow Fringed Orchid (Platanthera ciliaris)

Me? Orchids! Wild orchids. Like these Yellow Fringed Orchids (Platanthera ciliaris), and their cousins, Yellow Fringeless Orchids (Platanthera integra). The latter species are actually yellow, as opposed to orange, and they lack the long eyelashes you see above. But they are lovely if less showy than the fringed ones.

We also have Cranefly Orchids (Tipularia discolor) in Louisiana. They are even less showy but so elegant, with tiny flowers in brownish-greenish tones. These are the hardest to see. You really have to know what you’re looking for. But, oh, such excitement when you spot one!

And I must mention Ladies’ Tresses (Spiranthes), the most common of all. Whereas many orchids are quite picky about where they grow, Ladies’ Tresses aren’t. I’ve encountered them in pastures, road ditches, on the tops of hills, and in low-lying areas.

Every August for many years, retired botanist Dr. Charles Allen has invited plant nerds like myself to join him for a day and a half of hiking the Kisatchie National Forest that surrounds his B&B down near Fort Polk in search of orchids. We walk and sweat and walk and sweat and sometimes curse mosquitoes… and feast our eyes on these goddesses of the wildflower kingdom.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s