It’s orchid time again

By Bill Teftt. Photography by Ken Hupila of Snotty Moose Studio.

With 30 species of wild orchids found in the Arrowhead Region of Minnesota, along with the breeding bird checklists that get pulled from a file electronic or otherwise, orchid enthusiasts are reviewing their orchid list. From the early spring appearance of fairy slippers, one after another species comes into bloom. A number of other orchids will be blooming soon including the ever popular variety of lady’s slipper species that look like small moccasins.
1. Dragon’s Mouth (Wild Pink), Arethusa bulbosa
2. Tuberous Grass Pink, Calopogon tuberosus
3. Fairy Slipper (Calypso), Calypso bulbosa var. americana
4. Spotted Coral-root, Corallorhiza maculata
5. Striped Coral-root, Corallorhiza striata
6. Early Coral-root, Corallorhiza trifida
7. Stemless Lady’s Slipper (Moccasin Flower), Cypripedium acaule
8. Ram’s Head Orchid, Cypripedium arietinum
9. Small Yellow Lady’s Slipper, Cypripedium parviflorum var. makasin
10. Large Yellow Lady’s Slipper, Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens
11. Showy (Queen’s) Lady’s Slipper, Cypripedium reginae
12. Lesser (Creeping) Rattlesnake Plantain, Goodyera repens
13. Tesselated (Checkered) Rattlesnake Plantain, Goodyera tesselata
14. Loesel’s Twayblade (Fen Orchid), Liparis loeselii
15. Auricled Twayblade, Listera auriculata
16. Heart-leaved Twayblade, Listera cordata
17. Green Adder’s Mouth, Malaxis unifolia
18. Northern Green Orchid, Platanthera aquilonis
19. Small Green Wood Orchid
(Club-spur Orchid), Platanthera clavellata
20. Tall White Bog Orchid, Platanthera dilatata
21. Hooker’s Orchid, Platanthera hookeri
22. Tall Northern Bog Orchid,
Platanthera huronensis
23. Ragged Fringed Orchid, Platanthera lacera
24. Small Northern Bog Orchid, Platanthera obtusata
25. Small Purple Fringed Orchid (Butterfly Orchid), Platanthera psycodes
26. Large Round-leaved Orchid, Platanthera orbiculata
27. Rose Pogonia (Adder’s-mouth, Snake Mouth), Pogonia ophioglossoides
28. Northern Slender Ladies’ Tresses, Spiranthes lacera
29. Hooded Ladies’ Tresses, Spiranthes romanzoffiana
30. Nodding Ladies’ Tresses, Spiranthes cernua
Some types of orchids are small and obscure while others stand on trail edges, road sides or lakeshores. Many species are associated with wetland bogs and fens and develop in progression at their individual flower times during the summer.
Even more exciting than finding a species that a person hasn’t encountered previously can be finding an individual, rose pogonia or fairy slipper or lesser purple fringed orchid that lack its normal color. Although
some species are less common than others, white blooms of any species are even rarer. Fortunately, the photographer for this article spends a lot of time at orchid locations and has accumulated a growing
photo assortment of white forms of some species. Flowers that are entirely white are referred to as the “alba form” in reference to the lack of typical
flower color. Browsing on line will bring up examples of many photos of species that photographers and scientists have found exhibiting the alba form. Discovery of an individual or a clump of plants with alba blooms raises the excitement level a notch above the already exciting experience of typical orchid colors.
Some studies of the chemical makeup that produces a scent to attract pollinators is much the same in atypical alba flowers. And also some theories suggest that although the alba flowers do not appear to stand out in a way that attracts more pollinators or creates greater seed production, there is some evidence that the typical flowers nearby may benefit by a higher pollination rate and seed production.
One month has passed in the six months of annual orchid time. Biting insects or not, this is the time of year to be out and active and usually well-equipped with a camera or sketch pad or notebook. Many members will be posting photos to the Ely Field Naturalists websites and various social media. The possibilities are exciting to consider including finding a rare alba.
If you would like more information on some of Minnesota’s orchids go to the Minnesota Wildflowers website at and search “orchid”. You can also get a Northeastern Minnesota
orchid checklist at to combine with the book, Native Orchids of Minnesota written by Welby Smith then venture forth in orchid time.