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Been a long time

This year I was originally intending to try to relocate all the orchids I'd found in the past.  But, life threw a few curveballs and the person that I wanted to share them with is no longer a part of my life.  Like so many plans we had, that one didn't pan out.  Not that I haven't been out hiking, but I have been taking things at a more relaxed pace.  For most of the spring, I didn't really have any luck finding anything new, or even new locations for old favorites.  But yesterday, on the last day of spring, my luck changed:


That's Platanthera grandiflora, the large purple fringed orchid, and it's been up at the top of my wish list ever since I got into this crazy hobby.  It's also the thirty-fourth orchid I've found in New Jersey.  I found about ten of them in late bloom, hidden in a lovely little swamp among swamp azalea, ferns, and skunk cabbage.  The rest of the pictures from that hike are here.
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Canada, part II

Rewind a month, to the end of the ISHC conference in Ottawa.  I hightailed it out of the city to the nearby Marlborough Forest, searching for a really rare plant.  And after an extremely tough slog through a hostile wetland with an incessant onslaught of mosquitoes and biting flies, I found it:


That's the eastern prairie fringed orchid Platanthera leucophaea, which is rare in the Ottawa area and nearly nonexistent in the northeastern US.  It was growing alongside flowering Calopogon tuberosus and Pogonia ophioglossoides, and I caught Cypripedium arietinum, Cypripedium reginae, and Malaxis brachypoda setting seed, and Epipactis helleborine in bud.  The rest of the pictures from that trip are here.
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I spent the past week in Ottawa attending the International Symposium for Homogeneous Catalysis, where I had the tremendous privilege of sharing the single stage with so many distinguished scientists.  I gave a talk on cobalt-catalyzed asymmetric hydrogenation, the subject of my Science paper last year.  During the off times, I hit the great outdoors to see what southern Ontario had to offer.

My first trip, en route to Ottawa, was to the Purdon Conservation Area, where I saw a few late blooming Cypripedium reginae, some early flowering Platanthera aquilonis, and the ubiquitous Epipactis helleborine in bud.  You can find pictures from that hike here.

On Wednesday, the conference let out in the early afternoon and I visited an area called the Long Swamp, about 40 km from downtown Ottawa.  And it was spectacular:


That's Cypripedium reginae, the showy lady's slipper, in a fantastic tamarack fen.  Growing right next to it were blooming Calopogon tuberosus and Pogonia ophioglossoides, with more E. helleborine in the drier woodland areas.  And to top it all off, I made my way through this swamp with nothing but a hastily drawn map and a compass!  The rest of the pictures from this trip are here.
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More snow, more cold.  So much snow and ice have accumulated outside that my shed collapsed under their weight.  But, the days are getting longer and warmer.  Here's another find from last July:



That's Platanthera lacera, which is widespread in NJ but never particularly common.  It was a chance find a Tranquility Ridge County Park, where winktwice and I also found some of the other usual orchid suspects.  The rest of the pictures from that hike are here.
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Longing for spring

It's been a cold, dreary winter, and I've got a serious case of gloom from the perpetually frozen weather.  We've had so much snow this winter that I haven't seen my yard in months, and it's grey out more often than sunny, it seems.  What better way to try to find some cheer, than look back to pictures of summer?



That's a mountain meadow in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area near Wallpack Center, which was arguably one of the most colorful hikes of the year.  I didn't find the orchids I was looking for, but I did find all sorts of color in the open spaces in between.  You can see the rest of the pictures from that trip here.  There's also a few other sets from a late spring trip to Wharton State Forest, Johnsonburg Swamp Preserve, and a summer return to Wharton State Forest that I've edited in spare gloomy days.
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Rewind

It's been frozen and wintry for weeks now, even though the season doesn't start until tomorrow, and I'm already pining for spring.  What a fantastic time to edit some old pictures, and bring back the warm season.  Here's a set from July, at the Peaslee WMA:



That's Platanthera blephariglottis, the northern white fringed orchis, which is arguably one of the most impressive of our native orchids.  The rest of the pictures from that hike are here.
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Rewind

Taking advantage of a quiet night, I finished up a set up pictures from June.  The location was the Whiting WMA and the target was Calopogon tuberosus, the common grass pink:



And find it winktwice and I did, in a lovely little wet area.  We even found a single flowering individual of the white-flowered form albiflora, but you'll have to take a look at the rest of the pictures to see it.
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Orchids!

There's a lull in orchid hunting in late June and early July as all the easy stuff in the woods stops flowering before some of the really showy stuff in open pinelands begins.  That's not to say that there isn't anything blooming, but the stuff that is becomes quite hard to find.  Also, the start of summer is frequently marked by an unpleasant heat wave, which makes it tough to want to go out hiking for plants that don't live in the shade.  But this year, I've been making an effort to get out every weekend, and I've got a monster backlog of pictures to show for it.  Yesterday's hike in Morris county was so exciting that it jumped straight to the front of the edit line.



That's Triphora trianthophora, the three birds orchid, which was a lucky find made by winktwice near an old woods trail.  This plant doesn't always emerge from the ground each year, and it only opens its flowers for a day at a time.  It's S1 in the state (1-5 occurrences), and it's the thirty-second orchid I've seen in New Jersey.  You can see the rest of the pictures from the hike here.
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Back to back

Yesterday, winktwice and I took a long trip to the far southern reaches of the Pinelands to visit Peaslee WMA.  We were in search of Liparis liliifolia, which is perhaps the most common species of orchid in Indiana, but one that is getting quite rare out here.  It favors young successional forest, and we don't have so much of that here these days.  At any rate, well over a hundred miles from home, we found it:



The lily-leaved twayblade is the thirty-first orchid I've found in New Jersey, and one of the two widespread species I had left.  It's getting really hard to find new ones, but one day I will find them all.  I'm trying to see if I can volunteer with the NJ Natural Heritage Program to do field surveys, and maybe I'll see some of them that way.  There are more pictures from the trip here.
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Sill about two weeks behind editing pictures.  We went to Wharton State Forest at the end of May, which is probably my favorite place in New Jersey.  It's the largest preserved property at well over 100 000 acres, and it's remarkably diverse.  We were hunting the elusive Arethusa bulbosa, an S2 species that I'd only seen two other places, and we found it:



In addition, we found blooming Cypripedium acaule, buds of Pogonia ophioglossoides and Calopogon tuberosus, and vegetative Gymnadeniopsis clavellata.  Five different orchids is a fantastic tally if you ask me, and there are more pictures here.