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Old Jul 9, 2014, 8:04 PM   #1
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Default Orchid Hunt

Was up at Holston Mountain recently, to check on a rare orchid population. Because it's an endangered species, it's important to make sure they are thriving. Because they thrive in a very remote location, it takes some time and planning to get there. The first part of the trip is along established trail, with plenty of lush green life.

For most of the hike, camera stayed put away in the pack. "Swimming" through miles of neck-high Stinging Nettles, and crawling through over a mile of rhododendron thicket, are not ideal conditions for photography...
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Old Jul 9, 2014, 8:05 PM   #2
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But camera and tripod got plenty of exercise once we got to the orchid population. We had timed it just right - plants were at peak bloom and more than two dozen were blooming in this one small area.
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Old Jul 9, 2014, 8:07 PM   #3
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Oh, I forgot to tell you the name of my "quarry." It's called Great Purple Fringed Orchid (Platanthera grandiflora). Some of the distinguishing characteristics: Large plants (many over 3 feet tall), large flowers with lower "lip" fringed and obviously 3-parted. You can tell it from its close cousin Lesser Purple Fringed Orchid by the shape of the opening - rounded in Greater, figure-8 shaped in Lesser.
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Old Jul 9, 2014, 8:07 PM   #4
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Fortunately, this population is in a very remote location, and so it's safe from poaching and other disturbances. Next year I might walk on down further, to see if there are any other nearby (unreported) populations.
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Old Jul 9, 2014, 8:08 PM   #5
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Hope you enjoyed coming along on the "hunt," and that you'll share your comments & critique!
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Old Jul 12, 2014, 7:10 PM   #6
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Beautiful. I love orchids. Never seen ones like these before.
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Old Jul 12, 2014, 7:13 PM   #7
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Those are beautiful . . thanks for taking us along
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Old Jul 13, 2014, 10:38 PM   #8
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Beautiful photos Mole, and just like Patty, I have never seen these flowers. I have had the "pleasure" of hiking through nettles and rhododendron, back in the 1980s, when I was young and foolish. (In the intervening years, not much has changed, except for the young part.) It must have taken tremendous dedication to reach that site. Thank you for sharing!
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Old Jul 15, 2014, 3:40 PM   #9
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Patty - There are several species of Fringed Orchids here in the Southern Appalachians. Will post some of the (much more common) Yellow Fringed Orchids sometime soon...

Pastor - Glad you enjoyed the trip.

MtnMan - Not sure about you, but I certainly fit in the "old and foolish" category. Was up at Holston Mt yesterday, wading through the neck-high stinging nettles, to get a few shots of the Turk's Cap Lilies and the Copperheads. My poor little puppies did not enjoy the nettles, especially when it started to pour rain...
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Old Jul 15, 2014, 4:53 PM   #10
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The Purple Orchid colors make great images with the green background, nice shots Mole
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