Calopogon (Grasspink orchid)

tuberous grass pink

Calopogon, or the grasspink orchid, is a genus endemic to North America. The orchid is frequently found in wet, sunny bogs and marshy areas. The name is Greek and means “beautiful beard,” referring to the hairs found on its lips. Unlike most other orchids, the flowers of the Calopogon are non-resupinate

Found in my trip were the two grasspink species growing in North Carolina, the tuberous grasspink (Calopogon tuberosus), and the pale grasspink (Calopogon pallidus). The flowers within the species show considerable variation in color that made it hard for me to differentiate between the species, but iNaturalist was of much help. Shown here are more photos and their possible ids. Please correct me if they are wrong.

The flowers do not produce nectar or offer a reward to pollinators. Instead, the hairs on its lips trick bees into thinking there is pollen for the taking. From the bee’s weight, it falls onto the column letting the pollinia stick onto the bee. I was lucky enough to capture this poor bees misguided efforts to feed itself.

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