Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wild plants and Mystery Flower

Every once in a while, I like to post on the plants that grow wild, outside the confines of our northern yard. It gives me an opportunity to learn more about the local plants, which include several edible berries and some beautiful flowers. I completely forgot about the wild orchids until I was talking about these with my in-laws yesterday. Every year, I go check on the wild ladyslippers (Cypripedium acaule) growing in the forest behind our house. These usually bloom in early June, but are late this year. I took the dog and found clumps of them in full bloom under the evergreen trees, secure among the moss on enormous slabs of granite -- their preferred conditions.
Pink ladyslippers:

Growing alongside the orchids are the lowbush wild blueberries. They are currently blooming. The delicate little white and pink bells complement the foliage, which is still showing red leaves on some of the plants.
Blueberry blooms:

The bunchberry plants (a dogwood, Cornus canadensis) form an attractive carpet in some areas of the forest floor:

Labrador tea (Ledum groenlandicum) is a shrub that grows all over the north. I've never made tea from it myself, but I hear that it has been done. Kona was thrilled to be out on this nature walk, but her unbounded enthusiasm made photography difficult while holding the leash. The vet commented that she gained a bit too much weight over this last winter. Considering it was one of the coldest winters in many years (and she lives outdoors all winter), I defend her weight gain as a compensatory measure. Is it bad of me to rationalize this? Oh well, we'll both be walking this summer.
White blooms of Labrador tea and Kona, the husky-malamute:

Finally, I spotted this plant growing in a partly shaded, disturbed area of the forest behind our house. There was only one plant and I've never seen this plant anywhere else in the forests around here. It has multiple light pink, downwards facing flowers that dangle at the end of reddish stems. The leaves are dark green and glossy. Does anyone know what it is? I would love to know. (You can click on each photo to get a larger image.)
Mystery flower:


Pusepilde said...

The mystery flower is a Kalmia :)
Tried to sow it, but no luck yet.

GardenJoy4Me said...

Oh my goodness Gardenista you are so lucky to have such beautiful native flowers blooming like this .. I adore the lady slipper orchids ! Simply beautiful !

chzplz said...

Yup - looks like Kalmia polifolia (Pale Laurel).

Muddy Boot Dreams said...

Beautiful plants, what a amazing area you live in. Have a look at Farside of Fifty's blog post from yesterday, she has a hillside also of ladyslippers. It is pretty amazing to see so many of them growing together, since we rarely see any of them [seed grown] at all.


Gardenista said...

Thanks so much for the plant identification! I googled this plant and was amazed to find it is poisonous, including its nectar. Apparently, even honey made from its nectar is poisonous.

Chookie said...

Just beautiful! Glad others have found out what the mystery plant is. I love the lady's slipper too.

The Garden Ms. S said...

What beautiful wildflowers!

Keep their location secret - there are those who will dig them up, esp the lady slippers.

Your secret garden:)

Shari said...

Thanks for sharing the beautiful northern wildflowers. It is extremely hot and dry currently in Oklahoma, but local wildflowers are doing very well since they're adapted to dryness.

easygardener said...

The Orchids are beautiful. It is interesting to see which flowers are native to a particular country or area.
I'm sure Kona needed that extra layer to keep warm!

Johann Malan said...

It's known in the north as "bog laurel" (also "northern bog laurel" or "pale bog laurel" or "swamp laurel") and is used in a tea as an antidiarrhoeal, but it contains andromedotoxin, which can be lethal. There are two varieties, "polifolia" and "microphylla". Your specimen looks like the latter.