September 19, 2017

A Dainty Delight

Calopogon tuberosus

Calopogon tuberosus - Photo courtesy of Glen Mittelhauser/Maine Natural History Observatory

One generally thinks of orchids as delicate and tropical, but Calopogon tuberosus is hardy enough to live in bogs, swamps and wet meadows in Maine. Known as the grass pink, this showy orchid is sweet-smelling and can be identified by its bearded lip petal and solitary grasslike leaf, according to the National Audubon Society “Field Guide to Wildflowers.” It can have from two to 10 flowers that open sequentially up the stalk, which distinguishes it from its non-Maine-growing relative, C. barbatus, the bearded grass pink, which opens all flowers together. The grass pink’s flowers are a mere 1 and a quarter inch long, but the plant can grow 6-20 inches in height. Its one or two (sometimes three) leaves range from 3 to 45 cm in length and are less than the height of the plant. All of which means the grass pink is a quiet cousin to its tropical relatives living indoors.

Wild Wednesday is a collaboration of Garden Maine and Glen Mittelhauser of the nonprofit Maine Natural History Observatory, www.mainenaturalhistory.org.