Thursday, July 1, 2010

Miffed and Sleuthed

I have been anticipating the flowering stage of this plant, discovered roadside in Prospect Park. Its unusual character was immediately apparent. Today, however, I discovered it had lost its flowering top to someone or some thing. I was annoyed that I was not able to see it in flower. I am amazed by a plant coming up entirely on its own, without a community of like plants or any plants -just leaf litter, in the dense shade of large trees. What was that plant?!

I moved on, miffed by this missed opportunity. I looked around its immediate vicinity to double check that it truly was growing without company. It was and so I traveled the bridge over the Lullwater, still scanning for the plant in the understory.

To my left I notice a break in the wire fence. A pair of sunglasses, an evening's hideout? I break with conformity and go through the fence. Lo and behold, I spot the leaves.

The first I saw was leggy, the flowers spent and brown. They look weak, stems falling over, not the stout specimen I initially saw by the road. I think to myself how the dry spell must be affecting them, especially here, under the dense canopy of trees.

I move closer to the water and I spot my best opportunity for a photograph. The heavy, green- cast shade is affecting the flower's color, which leans toward green and white with a blush of pale purple. My original thought that the mystery plant was some kind of lily, given the leaf arrangement and the timing with our cultivated lily bloom, was clearly way off.

Ellen at GardenBytes believes it to be an orchid as she has just seen similar plants blooming in her woods. A close look at the flower backs her up. A quick check of white-green-flowered wildflowers at the Connecticut Botanical Society reveals that Ellen is right. Epipactis helleborine, or Helleborine, is an orchid, but one that hails from Europe and is rather derisively called Weed Orchid. Oh well, leave it to me to discover a weed in Prospect Park.


  1. My first thought was orchid too.

    A weed orchid, never knew one existed, but sure is cool!

  2. That's a story, An Orchid in Prospect Park. Wow. I would have squealed.


If I do not respond to your comment right away, it is only because I am busy pulling out buckthorn, creeping charlie, and garlic mustard...