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Posts Tagged ‘Showy Lady’s Slipper’

purdonboardwalk

Every June, Purdon Conservation Area, northwest of Perth, becomes a hot spot for nature lovers. Thanks to the efforts of Joe Purdon, a pioneer in conservation stewartship, the colony of a few dozen orchids, which he discovered on his property in the 1930s, has grown to 16,000 blooms. It is probably the largest display of Showy Lady’s Slipper orchids (Cypripedium Reginae) in North America.

purdonorchidsingrass

The orchids bloom for a couple of weeks at the end of June and the beginning of July. I made a trip out to see the orchids on a sunny, hot day this week and was not disappointed. The area is now managed by the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority. (That’s right; there’s a Mississippi River in Ontario too.) A boardwalk meanders through the fen and allows visitors to get a good look at the orchids with minimum impact to the fen. The orchids grow amongst trees, nestled in grass and sedges and other wetland lovers.

purdonlady'sslippersign

Information signage along the trail helps in identifying plants and provides interesting information about the fen. The orchids are 1 to 2 feet tall, and as their name indicates, very showy, decked out in white and bright pink. The stems have a hairy appearance and the hairs can cause a skin rash if touched, another reason not to disturb the plant!

purdonorchid1

purdonorchid2

The fen is situated at the foot of a steep hill, and runoff of water from the hill helps to feed the fen with nutrients and moisture, providing the habitat the orchids require. The plant has vanished from much of its historical range due to loss of habit as a result of the draining of wetlands.

purdonorchidclump

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