Rare Gems Hidden in the Forest: Discovering Wild Orchids in Oregon
Most people probably think of orchids as exotic flowers that only grow naturally in tropical climates. Few would guess that some of these lovely beauties are exclusively found in the woods throughout Scandinavia, the northernmost Asian countries, as well as North America’s Cascade and Rocky Mountains.
The Calypso bulbosaemerges each year after winter finally rolls up her snowy blanket. She has well earned her nickname—the fairy slipper. Like a fairy, this plant’s tiny, growing no more than four inches tall. Consequently, it’s somewhat difficult to find. Spying one always feels like discovering a hidden treasure, but one to be admired rather than collected. The reasons are simple. It’s not common and in some states is considered endangered. Furthermore, once a blossom has been picked, it’ll never grow back.
We knelt down on the soft, mossy forest floor near Sahalie Falls to examine this petite gem. Her delicate curved petals on top looked as if they were a designer hat. Simply exquisite.
If you enjoyed this story in our A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Characters™ series, you may also enjoy two other stories about Oregon’s forests at Little Zig Zag Falls and Frog Lake. We also encourage you to check out any of our books.