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Old May 15, 2014, 8:54 PM   #1
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Default A Rare King

About this time last year, I shared a few images of a rare queen - Showy Lady's Slipper (Cyprepedium reginae - which means queen of the lady's slippers).

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/pe...e-queen.html#b

This year I had a chance to visit with the king! Well, it's not called king of the lady's slippers, but it should be. Southern Lady's Slipper (Cyprepedium kentuckiense - also called Kentucky Lady's Slipper), is the biggest native orchid (yes, lady's slippers are orchids) in our region. It's also extremely rare in our state - only reported in three counties in Tennessee, and very "picky" about its habitat. This past week I had the chance to visit two of those three counties, and check out the lady's slipper habitat.

One location is high up on the Cumberland Plateau. Here it stays cool and damp, the progress of the spring season is slow, and the King was just budding out. There were nearly 200 plants, but none in full bloom yet.
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Old May 15, 2014, 8:57 PM   #2
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The other location was in far western Tennessee - an area I rarely have time to visit. But it's also where our park system hosts training for all the summer interns (seasonal Rangers). So, between training sessions, I visited a nearby stream and found "the king" in full bloom!
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Old May 15, 2014, 8:58 PM   #3
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Beautifully captured, Mole.
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Old May 15, 2014, 8:59 PM   #4
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Like most orchids, Kentucky Lady's Slipper does not bloom every year. In fact, the plants may stay dormant in the ground and not even leaf out for several years at a time. We found only five plants in bloom, but a few dozen in leaf.
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Old May 15, 2014, 9:00 PM   #5
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Just for comparison - here's a nice patch of Pink Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium acaule) from over on Greene Mountain.
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Old May 15, 2014, 9:02 PM   #6
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And a few views of Greater Yellow Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium pubescens) from up on Frozen Head State Park.
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Old May 15, 2014, 9:03 PM   #7
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Back to "The King's" environs - we found some other living things that relish the cool and damp of a streamside habitat. This is a gray treefrog, just "hanging out" in the green shade.
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Old May 15, 2014, 9:03 PM   #8
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And here's the treefrog's distant cousin - a red eft. Unique among salamanders, Newts have an extra life stage, a terrestrial immature stage. This one posed for us very nicely, not very far from the lady's slippers.
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Old May 15, 2014, 9:05 PM   #9
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Hoping to return to the Plateau location later, to see if these have bloomed. Also hoping you enjoyed these glimpses of a rare king!
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Old May 16, 2014, 8:40 PM   #10
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Beautiful slippers! Good lighting and detail. I hope the cold weather coming through doesn't effect them negatively.
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