Allium tricoccum (Small white leek)

Allium tricoccum, commonly known as a ramp or my favorite Small white leek. It is a native species of wild onion found across Canada and the eastern United States. A perennial plant growing from a conical bulb, like other onion/garlic species, produces broad leaves in early spring. Each cluster of bulbs produces a single flowering stalk. Unlike other members of its genus, flowering occurs after the leaves have all died back. Hence it gives rise to a unique display on the forest floor. I had initially suspected this was a parasitic plant from its lack of leaves and time of flower.

These were found in New York state near Ithaca in OD Von Engeln preserve a property managed by the nature conservancy.

Rhynchospora latifolia (Sand-swamp Whitetop Sedge)

Rhynchospora latifolia or the Sand-swamp whitetop sedge is a splendid-looking sedge species found in the southeastern states. Three species of whitetop sedges grow in the United States; two are native to the southeast state, while the third is endemic to Florida. Like other Sedge species belonging to the same family, distinguishing them is not easy. I am relying on the seeks app, which told me what species I had observed.

The whitetop sedge is a perennial plant growing in open grasslands and pine bogs; I took these photographs in the Green swamp preserve. Whitetop Sedge was possibly the most impressive plant that was not on my “to-see” list when I visited North Carolina. It was a pleasant surprise to walk into an open savannah covered with large white Inflorescences. It seems to attract many bumblebees; it was nearly impossible to photograph them without capturing a bumblebee working its way through the flowers!

Rhexia alifanus (Savanna Meadow Beauty)

An Oblique Stripetail Hoverfly prepares to land on a Meadowbeauty.

Savanna Meadowbeauty is a striking wildflower found from North Carolina to Florida, and west to Texas. In North Carolina they grow near the coast, these were growing in the green swamp preserve alongside various carnviorous plants and orchids. The flowers are striking and attract pollinators. I was lucky enough to photograph an Oblique Stripetail Hoverfly flying around flowers searching for a reward. Swipe through them to see what the hoverfly was up to!

Asclepias pedicellata (Savanna Milkweed)

Savanna Milkweed, a diminutive milkweed species found from Florida to North Carolina. In North Carolina, the species is listed as a “special concern” and is imperiled in other states. Its population is in danger due to fire suppression and loss of habitat.

The plant grows in open grassland or pinelands, with a fire-based ecology. It grows about a foot from the ground with a bunch of flower buds in the summer. Its flowers are not as showy as those characteristics of other milkweeds.

Rhododendron periclymenoides (Pinxter flower)

Rhododendron periclymenoides, the Pinxter flower or the pink Azalea, is a native azalea found along the eastern coast from southern New York to Georgia. They flower in the spring with showy pink blooms and long stamens with a sweet smell.

I caught these finishing their bloom in the first week of June. Despite being late in its blooming season, it put on a good show, and the old flowers still caught my eye!

The plant is a good substitute for many non native species in the garden. Then plant forms a shrub near the forest floor and is used by birds and animals as cover.

Cleistesiopsis (genus: Spreading Pogonia)

Cleistesiopsis, or spreading pogonia, is a genus of three orchid species found in north eastern America. Despite their similar names, they are not in the same genus as the rose pogonia found from Canada to Eastern US. Flowers produced by the orchid are large and showy, ranging in color from light pale to white. The three species are endemic to eastern North America, primarily south of Virginia to Florida. However, the rosebud orchid seems to have been found in New Jersey, although rarely. 

Because this was my first encounter with this genus, identifying their species was hard. As they are not as widespread as Calopogon orchids, spotting them in the Green swamp preserve was hard. After moving less at less than half a mile an hour through the longleaf pine savannah, I was able to observe four distinct populations of these orchids growing in the preserve. Some flowers were much past their primes while others were fresh. But even the ones done flowering, were still quite a sight to look at.

I would not want to hazard a guess as to the species of these orchids; if others could help me, I would be thankful.

One of my dating attempts was to photograph the inside of this orchid, it was, moderately successful!

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.

Galearis spectabilis (Showy Orchid)

A common native orchid found in eastern united states and Canada, the Showy Orchid, also known as showy orchis, purple-hooded orchid, or gay orchid, lives up to its name, albeit tinily. They bloom from April to June before the forest canopy is fully leafed out. The orchid thrives in humus-rich deciduous woodlands with a slightly acidic ph. As with almost all orchids, they depend on fungi for their seed germination.

These flowers were all over the reserve and indicated a stable population. There were many new orchids with a single leaf out. Most orchids had one or two blooms on them, but a few managed three!

Arisaema triphyllum (Jack-in-the-pulpit)

This common long lived perennial grows in the eastern half of the United States. Its flowers are varied in color but are hard to miss. Its three petal leaves means it can be confused with a young poison ivy. The plant itself contains Oxalic acid and oxalate crystals that can burn if ingested.

The flowers emerge after the leaves in late spring to early summer. The striped spathe surrounds a fleshy spadix that bears tiny flowers pollinated by small flies. In late summer the plant produces red berries. Its attractive flowers and large trifoliate leaves should make this an excellent addition to anybody shady garden. The plant is easy to grow in shade in the state of New Jersey.

Trientalis borealis (Starflower)

Starflower is a small ground covering herb across the forests of eastern North America. It is from the primrose family, the name of the genus Trientalis, meaning one-third of a foot in Latin, refers to the average height of the plant. 

The plant grows as a creeping rhizome and blooms early in the summer. The leaves grow out of a single stalk in a whorled fashion, with a flower spike emerging from the center. To the right, a colony of starflower is seen growing alongside a blooming Canadian mayflower.