The Eastern Fairy Slipper
This gorgeous little gem seems to be on every native orchid-seekers short list of favorites. It ranges from 5 to 10 cm in height. The bract that sticks straight up where the flower joins the stem is the same vivid rose color as the sepals and petals.
There is hardly a trace of the plant during mid summer, while its corm takes a rest. A single, pleated, evergreen leaf emerges in early fall, and persists throughout the winter and spring. It flowers from May 21 to June 11.
Calypso inhabits cool, white-cedar swamps found in northern Maine and Vermont in our area, but ranges west through Canada, and south to Arizona and New Mexico at high elevations. There is a transition to a distinct other variety in the west. It has but a single sighting in New Hampshire and is considered “historic”.
It is in decline in our area due to habitat destruction, and possibly climate change.
Calypso is on my “yet unseen” list, but I know where to look for it in Aroostook County. It will be two day trip, at least, but who knows what other wonders may be in store!
You can treat yourself to some lovely color photos if you “Google” it on the Internet.
— John A. Mattor