Montana Outdoors

May 15, 2013

Fairy Slippers ~ The little orchids called Calypso

Filed under: Montana, Wildflowers — Tags: , , — montucky @ 8:35 pm

A few days ago I mentioned that I had feared that I might have missed seeing Springbeauties this year. I also had that feeling about Fairy Slippers, having seen only two so far. Today as I returned from a hike up beyond Sheep Gap on the old road just north of Sunset Peak, just about a mile above the new trail head for the Sacajawea Peak Trail I found dozens of these beautiful little wildflowers in full bloom alongside Forest Service Road 7581; a cause for celebration. (Calypso, the goddess daughter of Atlas, was a beautiful sea nymph who was hidden in the woods.)

Fairy Slipper

Fairy Slipper

Fairy Slipper

Fairy Slipper

Fairy Slipper

Fairy Slipper

Fairy Slipper

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43 Comments »

  1. You had to go and put that last one in there, didn’t you? Spoiled everything. Oh, it’s a great shot, but it took all the ooh out of my ooh-ing and ah-ing. Shudders. Except for the spider, the photos are beautiful. These flowers are so delicate and intricate.

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    Comment by wordsfromanneli — May 15, 2013 @ 8:45 pm

    • LOL! I guess we all have differing opinions on spiders. Personally, I like nearly all of them, the exceptions being Black Widows, Brown Recluse and Daddy Longlegs. I was rather surprised to see the little crab spider on these flowers: that is unusual.

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      Comment by montucky — May 15, 2013 @ 10:22 pm

  2. It’s easy to see why they are called fairy slippers. They make lady slippers seem pretty humdrum! I bet they would really light up in the ultra-violet spectrum.

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    Comment by jomegat — May 15, 2013 @ 9:03 pm

    • I have not seen anything about their use of ultra-violet, but I suspect that you’re right. They rely on deception to attract pollinators because they do not produce nectar. They also have a very nice fragrance. They have a fairly wide distribution geographically, but have habitat requirements that are best supported in old-growth forests. I’m concerned for their survival.

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      Comment by montucky — May 15, 2013 @ 10:33 pm

  3. They are just amazingly beautiful and I’ve walked hundreds of miles trying to find them and other orchids, but they are very rarely seen here. That spider knows the right place to hang out.

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    Comment by New Hampshire Gardener — May 16, 2013 @ 4:24 am

    • They are very delicate and dependent on a very specific habitat, so I guess it isn’t surprising that they are disappearing from more populated areas. I see that the USDA notes that they are considered endangered in New Hampshire. I count it a blessing here that most of the old trails that I prefer to frequent have very few visitors and that the forests are so thick and the country so rugged that those who do travel there are almost forced to stay on the trails.

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      Comment by montucky — May 16, 2013 @ 10:28 pm

  4. Just incredible! I am glad you found some and managed to take such wonderful photos!

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    Comment by Jo Woolf — May 16, 2013 @ 5:00 am

    • I have been fortunate to find Fairy Slippers each year since 2008 and in many different locations. I think it is most likely serendipitous in that they happen to grow in places to which I naturally gravitate.

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      Comment by montucky — May 16, 2013 @ 10:34 pm

  5. These are simply elegant and your photos are exquisite. I love the little spider on the last one – a beautiful little surprise.

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    Comment by Teresa Evangeline — May 16, 2013 @ 6:00 am

    • I agree, they are elegant little beings, tiny miracles in the world of nature. I also love those little crab spiders. It is amazing how often I see them on all different kinds of wildflowers.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — May 16, 2013 @ 10:37 pm

  6. I so enjoy these posts and photos. Your knowledge of flora and fauna is amazing and the photos are wonderful. Thanks for sharing a part of the country that holds beauty and surprises!

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    Comment by Elizabeth — May 16, 2013 @ 7:12 am

    • I’m glad that you enjoy seeing the plants and creatures that are part of the wild country of Montana. It is an incredibly complex and beautiful part of the world.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — May 16, 2013 @ 10:39 pm

  7. I had to laugh at your comment about the Daddy Longlegs – they’re one of the few that don’t get a “eeuuwwww” from me, except when they’re all balled up in a group of hundreds. Have you ever seen that? It’s amazing. They pulsate.

    Your slippers are just as interesting, of course. The color is phenomenal – perhaps such vibrant colors are a way for them to be noticed in the undergrowth? I especially like the two photos of the pairs. So, so pretty.

    Like

    Comment by shoreacres — May 16, 2013 @ 7:37 am

    • Yes, I’ve seen big groups of Daddy Longlegs. My animosity towards them is because they bite. I have handled many other spiders including tarantulas and black widows without ever being bitten.

      I would like to see the Fairy Slippers the way insects see them. I would guess that you are right about the color making them visible as well as their patterns and possible their scent. I haven’s seen anything noted about whether they use an ultraviolet pattern which is also possible. A big part of their strategy seems to be that they do hide in and under other foliage, that besides the nearly inaccessible areas that provide them the conditions that they need to grow.

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      Comment by montucky — May 16, 2013 @ 10:47 pm

      • I’ve lived my whole life “knowing” that Daddy Longlegs don’t bite! Uh-oh. Now I know that there are two species, and that one does, and… and… More research is required!

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        Comment by shoreacres — May 17, 2013 @ 6:35 am

  8. I’m glad you found these. One would hate to miss them.

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    Comment by Malcolm R. Campbell — May 16, 2013 @ 7:59 am

    • Yes, I always look forward to seeing them. I’m glad there is no limit on the number of photos of them allowed!

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      Comment by montucky — May 16, 2013 @ 10:48 pm

  9. These orchids are beautiful and your photos of them are spectacular!!!

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    Comment by dhphotosite — May 16, 2013 @ 8:23 am

  10. Lovely!

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    Comment by winsomebella — May 16, 2013 @ 9:33 am

  11. As always you describe not only the beauty of your find but the excitement of the find as well. The flower is absolutely beautiful and apart from your pictures most of us would never experience this product of nature. Take care friend!

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    Comment by Ron Mangels — May 16, 2013 @ 10:01 am

    • I’m glad you enjoy seeing them Ron! I wonder too how many people have ever seen the Calypsos. It would be interesting to know. Probably not all that many.

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      Comment by montucky — May 16, 2013 @ 10:51 pm

  12. All beautiful, thanks

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    Comment by Linda Ault — May 16, 2013 @ 10:38 am

  13. What beautiful, delicate little wildflowers! LOVE the name. How divine.

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    Comment by FeyGirl — May 16, 2013 @ 9:13 pm

    • I also think they are well-named. They are rightly the objects of one’s fancy and imagination, probably more so than any other flower I know.

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      Comment by montucky — May 16, 2013 @ 10:53 pm

  14. What a great joy it was to admire Your terrific photos. I scrolled down and up – enjoying.

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    Comment by Sartenada — May 17, 2013 @ 12:30 am

    • I can’t resist taking a lot of pictures of these. They are just so pretty!

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      Comment by montucky — May 17, 2013 @ 8:35 pm

  15. Hi Montucky, A real treasure of an orchid. I especially like even the faded blossom, and also that shot of the spider hanging on. Have a truly wonderful day and a great weekend!

    Like

    Comment by wildlifewatcher — May 17, 2013 @ 9:56 am

    • I like the little crab spiders. They seem to like the flowers too.

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      Comment by montucky — May 17, 2013 @ 8:35 pm

  16. Exquisite, aren’t they? Glad you found them!

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    Comment by Mama's Empty Nest — May 17, 2013 @ 1:49 pm

    • Yes, they are amazing little flowers. Who could imagine such a thing?

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      Comment by montucky — May 17, 2013 @ 8:36 pm

  17. I’m always happy to see these on your blog because Fairy Slipper is such an appropriate name. I hope fairies really do use them as shoes, sometimes. Ugh, we have a multitude of daddy longlegs and black widows outside all the time. I didn’t know daddy longlegs bit either, though. Ugh, I detest spiders, they’ve always just totally creeped me out but black widows especially. We’ve even had a couple inside over the 19 years we’ve been in this house.

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    Comment by Candace — May 17, 2013 @ 1:57 pm

    • My summer would not be complete if I couldn’t see Fairy Slippers.

      I remember that there were lots of black widows in Arizona. I was very surprised to see them here as well, although not nearly as many.

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      Comment by montucky — May 17, 2013 @ 8:40 pm

  18. oh my goodness gracious!
    these are my favorite flower… i know it is basically impossible to have a favorite flower… still i do adore them. I have been calling this the year of the fairy slipper, because i am finding so many. but i have not found clans of them like you have here. I am so happy for you! you have honored them exquisitely with your photographs!

    Like

    Comment by Tammie — May 18, 2013 @ 3:11 pm

    • I’m glad they are doing well in you region. I have found very few this year until I encountered these. I have seen them in large numbers there in other years too. They are at about 4500 feet on the north slope of the Coeur d’Alene Mountains a few miles east of Cherry Peak.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — May 18, 2013 @ 9:53 pm

  19. Gosh where have I been and how have I missed this? WOW… is this the first time you have ever published these beauties, or are these photographs just particularly spectacular… or all of the above?!!!!

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    Comment by kcjewel — May 20, 2013 @ 7:08 pm

    • oh and i know of calypso because i’m a HUGE pirates of the caribbean fan, but calypso wasn’t very friendly!!

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      Comment by kcjewel — May 20, 2013 @ 7:09 pm

      • These little ones are very shy and hide under other foliage. They are also extremely fragile.

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        Comment by montucky — May 20, 2013 @ 8:40 pm

    • I try to find these every spring, but this year they have been especially nice.

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      Comment by montucky — May 20, 2013 @ 8:39 pm

  20. They are beauties!

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    Comment by Fergiemoto — May 25, 2013 @ 2:46 pm

    • They are! I consider them part of the royalty of Montana wildflowers.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — May 25, 2013 @ 9:28 pm


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