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!

Cypripedium acaule (Pink Lady’s Slipper)

The pink lady’s slipper is a large orchid native to much of north Eastern America. It flowers every spring-early summer and is the most common orchid found in New Jersey. Despite their relative common occurrence, their numbers are threatened by habitat loss and illegal poaching. If you wish to grow a Cypripedium in your garden, please make sure to buy it from a reputable nursery like Plants Delights.

The Pink lady’s slipper requires acidic soil and tolerates shade and moisture. Like almost all orchid species, it needs the help of fungi species from the genus Rhizoctonia. Since most orchid seeds lack any food for the plant embryo, the fungi strands have to break open and attach themselves to the seed, providing it with the nutrients it needs to start growing. As the orchid matures and produces more energy, the fungi can extract nutrients from the plant. The 

I found a large patch of these orchids growing in a state forest here in New Jersey. They were plentiful and were multiplying. Seen to the side is a patch of young seedlings still too young to flower. In the background, one can make out the fence used to fence in a large patch of these orchids. It’s necessary to fence them in because the growing deer population eats these orchids. Nevertheless, the seeds of these orchids are small enough to have been blown out of the fenced-off area. These orchids were growing in a piney forest beside a Blackjack Oak.

Pogonia ophioglossoides

Pogonia ophioglossoides, better known by its common names, Rose Pogonia, or the snakemouthorchid. It is a terrestrial orchid found in wet areas along the East Coast, as north as Canada. It is pollinated by bees that it attracts by its sweet fragramce.

The scent of the orchid was put to words by Robert Frost in his poem titled “Rose Pogonias”, where he says – “stifling sweet/with the breath of many flowers…”

In New Jersey, these can be found in bogs or wetlands, even growing alongside carnivorous plants. As seen in the second photo, couple of orchids bloom alongside an old flower of a pitcher plant.