You may recall that I’m a little over the moon about orchids, and especially about cranefly orchid. I know of three distinct patches near each other in one of my usual hunting areas, and I keep an eye on those areas year ’round.
Some time late this spring, I noticed that all the leaves had gone. It seemed a little early for their annual disappearing act, but I’m not an expert so I shrugged it off and kept watching.
By the last week in July I was getting concerned. The flower stalks should have been up, and at least in bud if not in bloom. What was going on? Did I miss the flowering altogether? Were they poached?!
This happened with the puttyroot orchid, too. I know exactly where to find two plants. All I saw of them this spring was last year’s stalk with seed pods still on it.
I was feeling mighty bad about this. Not at the thought that I might have missed them, but at the thought that something happened to them and they were gone forever.
Then, one morning a few days later, in a completely unexpected place, something caught my eye: a single stem of this delicate, easy-to-miss wonder.
I admit, I literally fell to my knees with a sigh.
Cranefly orchids grow a single hibernal leaf that dies before the plant flowers in mid summer. It can be common in parts of its range, which extends from the the upper mid-Atlantic south through Florida and Texas, but is rare in Pennsylvania, threatened in Florida and Michigan, and endangered in Massachusetts and New York.