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Calypso Orchid (Calypso bulbosa)


Calypso Orchid -- Photo  Chris Carvalho/Lensjoy.com



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Though most people think of orchids as tropical plants, there are many that grow in colder climates all over the world.  Oregon has an especially beautiful one, the Calypso.  This tiny flower is only an inch across and packs a punch with its brilliant magenta color and boldly patterned lip.  I like to think of it as the flower with attitude; the inventor of the original spiked haircut.  This one was found on a trail in the Columbia Gorge.  

When these orchids open for a short time each spring it's as if the forest is being reborn.  The plant's botanical name is Calypso bulbosa.  Though not endangered, they require special conditions of shade, moisture, and soil that cannot be duplicated outside of old-growth forest.  The single leaf has a very limited ability to photosynthesize, and so cannot provide all the nutrients the plant needs .  This orchid, along with many others in the Pacific Northwest, grows in partnership with a fungus in the soil that shares nutrients taken from the roots of trees.  So in a way, the orchid is using the needles of evergreen trees in the forest to provide the nourishment it needs through a fungus.  For this reason, they won't grow if dug up and taken home.  

Info:  Chromira digital print of Provia 100F 35mm slide

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