Wednesday, September 17, 2008
It seems odd to think of a native orchid as being a garden pest, but the nodding pogonia (Triphora trianthophora) comes rather close in our garden. This little orchid has very tiny leaves, obtaining much of its nutrition from a symbiosis with fungi in the soil. The orchid spends most of its time underground, only briefly sending up its frail stalks and blooming in late summer. I like its common name of "three birds", referring to the fact that each stalk has three pale lilac flowers. It is considered a threatened orchid, due largely to loss of habitat, but seems to have made itself at home in the garden, as it likes the rotting bark chip pathways, and in late summer pops up in clumps right in the middle of some of these walkways, so one has to navigate around them. But, the flowers and stalks are only above ground for a few weeks, before disappearing, so it's a brief nuisance.
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