The wind rushes around our house, and I'm so glad to be inside! It's cold out there!
I watch as a new storm develops over Grand Mesa. It sweeps down, and the mesa disappears. I have only lovely memories of the wildflowers and I wonder how long it will be before I can walk the mesa again.
So in my mind's eye I walk the path at Scotland Trail. The monument plants are putting out their large, furry leaves and the buttercups are showing color along the little stream. I walk over toward the stand of Engelmann spruce where I've found a delightful display of mountain flowers in the past ... all small and delicate. But of course this is prime mosquito habitat!
There's a small showing of marsh marigold and plenty of tiny white mustard. I kneel down on the damp ground and there, in front of me, is a special plant. An orchid — it's Ladies Tresses! There are few orchids on the Western Slope, so this is a special find. The plant is about 10 inches tall with three-inch-long basal leaves. They are rolled inward so they look roundish. The upper leaves are reduced to bract-structures.
At the top of the 10-inch stem is a spike of pale whitish blossoms. Each season I've taken a single blossom and tried again to understand its structure but it's too little: the two small petals are less than 1/8 inch and the big one is less than 1/2 inch (when they're open!). It's early in the season and the flowers are tightly closed.
The name is as lovely as the flower. Spiranthes romanzoffiana. Greek spera means a coil and anthos means flower. So "coiled flower" and the flowers sit on the twisted stem. The second name is for Count Romanzoff of the 19th Century.blog comments powered by Disqus