Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Lesser Purple Fringed Orchid

On Sunday, Erika and I found several Lesser Purple Fringed Orchids alongside the Bog Boardwalk at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum (Carver County, Minnesota). Identification was easy--the Arboretum labeled them. I called the Arboretum and asked if these orchids were natives, or if they were planted.  The Arboretum Library replied that they have no records of the orchids' being planted and presumed them to be wild.

The Lesser Purple Fringed Orchid grows in much of northeastern North America in wet environments. This orchid is endangered, rare, or threatened in at least a half dozen eastern states. The Iroquois used the plant in aid in childbirth, cure cramps in children and to treat other injuries (University of Michigan). The species is pollinated by butterflies (Dave's In Minnesota, the range is from the northern Twin cities into the Arrowhead, and in the southeastern part of the state. In the Friends of Eloise Butler Wild Flower Garden website, we learn that Lesser Purple Fringed Orchids were introduced to that Minneapolis wildflower preserve by Eloise herself in 1908 with a plant brought from Nova Scotia. Despite subsequent introductions then and in the 1930s, the species is no longer to be found in the preserve.

Tina Negas informs us that other orchids in this genus are named "Devil's Fingers, Bloody Bones, Dead man's hand - what horrible names for such a lovely flower! The names derive from the tuber - DEFINITELY not for digging up! The swollen tubers were thought to indicate LUST, the flaccid ones, an antidote - no prizes for guessing why." According to the Merriam Webster On-Line Dictionary, several European orchids in other genera are also called Dead Man's Fingers due to their pale digitate roots.

1 comment:

  1. Coincidentally there is a photo today of that orchid on another Minnesota blog that I read-