Photo of the Week – May 23, 2013

Many thanks for all the great feedback on my garlic mustard post earlier this week.  If there’s one big lesson from all the responses and suggestions I got via blog comments and emails, it’s that there is no standard effective treatment for garlic mustard right now.  In some places, one treatment works well, in others, the same treatment fails.  As seems to be the case with most invasive species issues, it’s important to use a variety of strategies and adapt over time as you figure out what works at a particular site.  That said, it was nice to hear that at least some people are seeing positive responses to treatments and improvements over time.

Now, for a more positive topic…

Yellow lady's slipper orchids blooming at The Nature Conservancy's Rulo Bluffs Preserve in southeastern Nebraska.

Yellow lady’s slipper orchids blooming at The Nature Conservancy’s Rulo Bluffs Preserve in southeastern Nebraska.

As I said in the last post, while we were at the Rulo Bluffs Preserve last week, we found several yellow lady’s slipper orchids (Cypripedium parviflorum) – one of Nebraska’s rarest plant species.  I’d love to say the orchids are responding positively to our management, but the truth is that all of the plants we found were in areas where we’ve done almost nothing!  They were on north or east-facing slopes where fire doesn’t carry well, and where we haven’t focused much of our thinning work.

I’m not saying our management isn’t working (we’re seeing many other species respond positively to our management) – I’m just saying that these individual orchid plants were not thriving as a direct response to our management.

They’re just thriving, and that’s good enough for me.

A close up of one orchid flower.

A close up of one orchid flower.

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About Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer is an ecologist and Eastern Nebraska Program Director for The Nature Conservancy. He supervises the management and restoration of approximately 4,000 acres of land in central and eastern Nebraska - primarily along the central Platte River. Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press.
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5 Responses to Photo of the Week – May 23, 2013

  1. James McGee says:

    So people do not go and dig your lady’s slipper orchids up, here is a vendor that does laboratory propagation.

    http://greatlakesorchids.com/store/index.php?route=product/category&path=64

    I have been growing seedlings of various species to maturity and all the species native to my region are doing great. Some of the species not native to my area are proving more difficult to grow.

    James

  2. Henry Eilers says:

    Greetings,

    We have had nothing but favorable responses to 20+ years of fire management regarding Cypripedium and other orchids. Last year’s drought and heat however did result in a decline of flowers per plant. We had also not been able to get a burn in for 3 years ore more depending on the burn units. “Everything is connected to everything else.’

    Henry Eilers, Shoal Creek Volunteers 1302 East Union Avenue Litchfield, IL 62056 217-324-3410 heilers@consolidated.net

  3. What beauties they are, too!

  4. Carey says:

    I have some of these growing in my shelter belt! I am so excited! They have not bloomed yet, so I do not know what color – look white. Do you know if these transplant well?

    • Chris Helzer says:

      Carey, I’d be really surprised if what you’re seeing is an orchid if it’s in a shelterbelt and hasn’t bloomed yet. But, hey, what do I know? if it does turn out to be an orchid, I certainly wouldn’t try to move it – they are notorious for their very specific needs in terms of soil and other habitat conditions. Besides they’re pretty rare in most places and it’s probably best to leave it and celebrate it in place. I hope it turns out to be an orchid!

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