Saturday, June 11, 2016

Purple Twayblade Orchid @ Ojibway Park

Purple Twayblade Orchid - Ojibway Park Windsor

People that read Nerdy for Birdy might have noticed that while birding is my main focus, butterfly watching and even more recently, botany have caught my attention. With so many beautiful things to witness in nature, how could a nature enthusiast just limit themselves to just one area?

Another motivation for my interest in botany is the fact that I live right next to Ojibway Park - its literally two or three minutes from my home in Windsor. I swear - very few people in Windsor understand just how special this place is. Ojibway just keeps revealing -year after year - its precious inventory of nature.  Sadly, as I write this blog posting, huge areas of the Ojibway Prairie complex are being 'developed' into shopping plazas, creating light, air and noise pollution to this special area in Windsor. The new bridge crossing in Windsor has and will continue to have negative repercussions on the north end of the Ojibway Complex. These developments are going to further fragment the little that remains of southwestern Ontario's natural heritage.

I have to admit that I was lucky in being able to see this stunning flower today - not because I was able to find it myself, but rather, a serendipitous blogosphere connection I had made through Allen Woodliffe's blog got us in contact. Allen happened to be in the area today and invited me to join him on a walk at Ojibway Park. As you might already know Allen has a lifetime of experience in the natural history of Southwestern Ontario. He is very knowledgeable in the Ojibway Tallgrass Prairie ecosystem as well as Rondeau and pretty much anywhere else in Southwestern Ontario.

The Purple Twayblade is an endangered orchid - that just so happens to be present - in small numbers- in a few of the fragmented natural areas in West Windsor (Ojibway Park) and a few other scattered natural areas in Essex County.

This plant is stunning to look at. Its hard to describe its appearance. It has a central stem and flowers radiate outward. The purple flower seems to be sitting on two pronged projections that are holding it up. It has two hairlike projections hanging from the back of the flower petal.

While looking for this flower this week, I found a related orchid - a "Fen Twayblade" at a natural area just south of the Ojibway Tallgrass Prairie. Unlike the Purple Twayblade, the Fen Twayblade is not endangered, and its not as big or showy as the Purple Twayblade. But it was still a breath taking find and a stunning flower.

So in closing - its been a great week for me in the botanizing category. Two lifer orchid species - just minutes from my home in Windsor. Its uncanny - Ojibway Park just keeps revealing more and more of its natural riches to me. I am honoured to witness it. Thanks to Allen for allowing me to join him and for sharing his insights and stories with me.

Good Birding, Leping, Herping and Botanizing 



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