Now is the time to battle the black flies and get into the woods for a pink treat! The Pink Ladyslippers are now holding forth, proclaiming to all the world their unmatched beauty. These are precious flowers of the orchid family, beckoning our attention but asking us to only take pictures. If picked, the next hiker will miss the beauty and more important the plant will not fulfill its potential.....to make seeds. Bumblebees are known to climb inside that attractive pink bag and pick up pollen to pass on to the next such flower. How many bumblebees do you see flying around these moccasin shaped blooms? Very few are fertilized, so seed production is at a low level. All the more reason to spare these flowers and not pick them.
Some of you may wish to dig and replant them nearer to home. This again is a bad idea unless a road or house is being constructed where it grows. Scientists have learned that there are fungi living in the soil that help perpetuate the plant and foster seed germination. Those fungi may not be present where you live, so again, take only pictures of this pink beauty.
Here in Maine, the Pink Ladyslipper has a lot of company of the same color in the woods . A beautiful shrub that likes a wet environment is Rhodora, a rhododendron. The flowers appear before the foliage and its beauty stops a hiker in his tracks (at least mine!).
Equally appealing, and now in bloom, are the Gay Wings or Fringed Polygala. These are suggestive of orchids, but lack the parallel veination of those plants' leaves. They also grow low to the ground and spread by runners, so seed making and flower production are not as critical in their survival. These flowers look like small pink airplanes, complete with what looks like a fuzzy propeller. Recently, I hiked with some kids from the local school and our search for "pink airplanes" caused one hiker to ask, "Did you hide some toys in the woods?" In the picture below, notice the difference in the veination of the leaves compared to the true orchid above it.
Some campers are getting a bit pink from the warm sun these days, but now we are in another wet period. I am trying to get my vegetable garden planted in between showers. At least I won't have to water the garden for a while, but the muddy boots are a pain. I did get to the beaches to check things out and managed to find a few interesting things among the human barefeet tracks! Yes, summer is on our doorstep.
As for the animals and their spring appearances, we captured Spring Peepers hopping in the woods this week. Large Tadpoles of the Bullfrog variety are starting to grow tiny hind legs. As mentioned earlier, the Black Flies and Mosquitoes are here, none of them pink though their bites make my skin pink in spots.
I have a feeling the color of this animal's tongue would be pink, but he didn't show it to me. These two young fox are commonly seen in the field behind my house. They have not developed a fear of human beings.....I think these are the ones born under a neighbor's shed! They are no bigger than my cat.
6/2/07 Ronnie, busting out in June....!