Sunday, October 19, 2014

October Orchids, Spiranthes in the Pines

Brother Henry called this week with a wildflower sighting.
An intriguing patch of white wildflowers had appeared in a mossy seep just across the road from his home in rural Harnett County, and Hoot Owl Karma headed out on a picture perfect October morning to investigate.

Henry failed to warn us about the amazing autumn asters we'd encounter before we even crossed the road. 


Once we oriented ourselves properly, we spotted the mystery wildflowers in the mottled shade of the pines near the pond across the road.

And once we laid eyes on the first, we discovered not just one or two or even a dozen of these glorious white spires; 

no, this was a thriving community of Spiranthes sp., dozens of lovely native October orchids, each determined to outshine its neighbors in their lush green bed of sphagnum moss.

Our first impression was that these were nodding ladies' tresses, but there was such variability among the gathered individuals, we decided a little more research into the October-blooming Spiranthes native to our area was in order.

In the meantime we basked in the glory of a spectacular autumn Orchid show.

Henry's neighbors dropped by to introduce themselves and inquire about our activities, and they graciously encouraged us to photograph as long as we liked. We thanked them for their hospitality and chatted for a few minutes about the very special habitat they had preserved here along their pond margins.

The sun's rays skittered across the surface of the pond and slipped between the towering pines to dance among the tiny white blossoms.

The pines cast their long shadows at our feet, dimming the glow of one, then another, of the brightly illuminated spikes,

though time had slowed to a barely perceptible crawl as we moved, mesmerized, among the gathered throng.

Each plant was a unique individual.

Some slender and delicate, others much more robust; 

some standing tall, others barely peeking above the moss;

some with blossoms spiraling so wildly as to lose their way,
others barely twisting from the vertical at all.

All white, though; some blindingly so.

Some stood close to one another, practically hand in hand, while others stood all alone.

The subtle twist and turns of some flowers as they opened in carefully ordered succession along the stalk

contrasted with others sporting a more random, somewhat disheveled look.

All in all, another unforgettable autumn morning here at Hoot Owl Karma, thanks to Henry and his neighbors and nature indomitable, here in the heart of Carolina.

Henry didn't warn us about the hundreds of carnivorous sundew plants lining the pond, either... Good thing we spotted them before they spotted us!

1 comment:

  1. Speechless. I wouldn't even see such flowers much less know anything about them. And the carnivorous sundews. Left me hanging. Had to do some quick research on that one. Thought Venus flytraps were one of a kind. I'm amazed. Again! Wow