15

April
2010

7:58 pm

Oh, look.

... at what's in our garden.

This is a fairy slipper or calyso orchid: calypso bulbosa. Calypso—which means "concealment"—was the daughter of Atlas, a nymph hidden in the woods found by Ulysses on the island of Ogygia. I was weeding yesterday (long overdue) and suddenly realized that in the midst of all those nasty exploding-pod weedy things... was this. Two of them, close side by side, actually.

According to Plants of Coastal British Columbia , it's quite common but easily exterminated because of trampling and picking. (The root system is so delicate that simply picking the flower can kill the plant.) The Haida ate this plant's corms in small quantities; they apparently have a rich butter-like flavour. But I don't think I'll do a taste test.

Fairy slipper spreads asexually by sprouting from underground corms; it also reproduces by seed but can't self-pollinate. Since the two we have are side by side they're likely offshoots of the same corm, and I don't know whether they can cross-pollinate. I guess we'll see. I'm keeping fingers crossed.

When I walk to the ferry I take a path that leads across a moss meadow through woods and comes out at the Agi Hall. It's lovely—the meadows are dense and detailed and glorious and the woods are where I spotted these little orchids last spring, and it just reinforced what a wonderful piece of land the path runs through. And now, it turns out, they'll be protected, because the owners have put a permanent conservation covenant on the land. Bravo for them!

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