Native Orchids of Illinois

I have been blessed enough to have seen these two in the wild with my own eyes. These two native orchids of Illinois are a pretty rare sight. Sadly, aside from us greedy humans taking their habitat, people will selfishly dig these up and take them home. Bad people!

Cypripedium reginae     image

Cypripedium reginae ~ Showy Lady’s Slipper

She’s called, “Queen Orchid of America” with her slipper-like pouch of dazzling pink and her three white, flared petals, she rivals the orchids of the tropics with her beauty.

Orchids like to grow on a ledge of a marsh (hummock) in damp, deciduous forests and on rocky outcrops with rich organic soil which is usually alkaline based. Like all other Cypripedium species, it requires well-drained soil. These were spotted in the middle of forest, however I don’t feel it was too marshy where they were growing.

image         image

Cypripedium calceolus var. parviflorum

The specific epithet calceolus in Latin means “little shoe,” and parviflorum means “small flower,” in reference to the smaller flower of this variety.

There are 17 genera of native orchids here in the Midwest. Here, orchids are terrestrial (live in earth), whereas the ones native to the tropics are arboreal (live in trees). Orchids are interesting & complicated plants. Each genus is different, with their flower shapes partly influenced by the type of insect that pollinates them.

These two orchids (among others) have a specially made flower that only admits tiny green bees, which are their special pollinators. Other insects are not able to enter the flower, as the sticky anthers prevent them.

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© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

34 thoughts on “Native Orchids of Illinois

    • So I did the math.. I’ve known about their existence since 2006, saw the yellow in 2014 and the pink in 2016. It’s taken 8 and 10 years respectively, to spot these! And I do ‘get around’ my forest preserves (heehee) I hike a bunch! It was very exciting for me =-)
      It’s scary that only one family of insects can pollinate it. She is very dependent on this little insect. I hope we humans are respective of their space.

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      • I’m with you~I’m working on a pen and ink series of all the native Illinois plants I can find and some of these little darlings have taken me years to find as well. We both get around! 🙂
        It sure is scary how tenuous the strands of pollination are. I cheer whenever I see a neighbor put a native plant in their garden. I figure every little bit helps our wonderful little bees.

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        • I was sad to figure out I had not been following you, as I thought I was. I rely on the readers accuracy to present me with my followed blogs, however everything is capable of a mistake. This resulted me in binge reading your blog, if you hadn’t noticed 😉
          I do believe in prevention of planting invasives as a solution to invasives spreading everywhere.
          I envy your artistic talent! My husband can draw really well also (he’s bent on sculpture, tho) and I’ve always wanted to draw better, but having your husband try to teach you is like trying to teach a fish guitar 😂
          I’ll get to the college for a class one day.

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  1. I too went though this experience. I had never seen a lady slipper in the wild and finally found a small cluster of them and waited patiently as they grew, not knowing when they would bloom, always fearing that I would miss it or that someone would pick them or dig them up (they will not survive in gardens since they depend on local ground bacteria).
    Here’s my story: https://edlehming.wordpress.com/2016/06/22/showy-ladys-slipper-secord-forest/

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  2. I’m not sure I’ve seen orchids in the wild (at least, not in Wisconsin – I’ve seen them in the tropics). Perhaps I shall explore some marshy woods and see what I can come up with. And attempt to keep Choppy from stepping on them (the latter is not always an easy task).

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  3. Fantastic find! Those pink pouch orchids are so adorable. Orchids are so readily available online nowadays, that these beauties should never need to be taken from the wild (despite the fact that they are free)! This way everyone can enjoy them 🙂

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    • Thanks! I let out a little girl SQWEEEE! when I saw them. My husband thought I had peed my pants 😉
      I knew these can be found here, but I can’t believe after all the hiking I do that this was the first time I’ve seen them.
      BTW- flipped over to your blog and was hooked! You’ve got some interesting posts and a new follower 🤓 See you in the reader!

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      • lol, hilarious… I would have done the same… I wonder if your husband would have also been excited by the find? I know mine wouldn’t have understood my excitement at something like this. He rolls his eyes every time I find a mushroom cause he knows we wont be moving anywhere for a while!
        Thanks for following my blog… I think you will also have a new follower, as soon as I have time to dive into your world, can’t wait!

        Liked by 1 person

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