Orchids of the Great Smoky Mountains

TNcasual

Top Veteran
Location
Tennessee
There are over 1,500 flowering plants in the GSMNP. They bloom nearly all year round. Always giving visitors something beautiful or unique to see. Of these 1,500 plants, 36 are orchids. It can be a real treat to come across an orchid along the trail. Some are more common, like rattlesnake plantain. Others are quite ephemeral and rare, like the Three Birds orchid.

Out of all the time I have been in the GSMNP, I have been lucky enough to witness and photograph 7 species. Some times I went specifically to photograph the orchids. But mostly I have just come across them along the trail at different times of year.

Here are the species that I have been lucky enough to shoot.

Showy Orchis, Galearis spectabilis. This one I have only seen once. It is quite beautiful (this shot doesn't do it justice). It blooms in Spring. Shot with the Olympus E-M10 and 14-42R.

17034441214_c9d14c320a_h.jpg


Large Twayblade, Liparis liliifolia. I come across this one fairly regularly in Spring. Though it is considered threatened in other parts of the US. Shot with the K1 (as are the rest of these.)

52091310907_5278509a7f_h.jpg


51201320043_b830217ef4_o.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


Downy Rattlesnake Plantain, Goodyera pubescens. This one is very common. It blooms through much of the summer, and its pretty foliage can be seen most of the year.

51353830583_c2f47f6f7e_h.jpg


52271327350_dbc301e95e_h.jpg


Yellow-Fringed Orchid, Platanthera ciliaris. This is a quite striking species. I have come across it twice. It blooms in summer/fall. It is fairly uncommon and actually endangered in other places.

51352863422_5f798ef636_o.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


Crane Fly Orchid, Tipularia discolor. This is another summer flowering orchid. I see it fairly regularly. Although it can be easy to miss as the stalk and flowers are quite dainty.

52271096399_b818161905_o.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


52269868157_9869e5b3a6_o.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


Pink Lady's slipper or Moccasin Flower, Cypripedium acaule. This may be my favorite. It's showy blooms come out in mid spring for only a couple weeks. If you are ever in the area around May 1 and want to see some, let me know. I have a location where they all but blanket the forest floor. Thread I made early this year.

52046179675_dacca5f017_o.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


52044594422_7f57bf74be_o.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


52046081166_f7d5207504_o.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


Three Birds Orchid, Triphora trianthophoros. This is my most recent discovery. It has a wide distribution, but is also rare within that distribution. It is somewhat difficult to gauge its population, though. It only flowers for a few hours over a few days. Seemingly local populations bloom all at the same time. Then the plant remains dormant for a year or more.

Unfortunately, when I came across it last weekend, I did not know what I had found. These blooms were already beginning to die back. And I didn't take the time to really shoot them as well as I would have liked. There is a good chance, I will never be in the right place at the right time to shoot them again.

52270832691_bee28acc7a_o.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


A few more images are in this Flickr album: Smoky Mountain Orchids.
 

TNcasual

Top Veteran
Location
Tennessee
My wife and I were out in he GSMNP again last weekend. It's a great way to relax, unwind and witness an amazing environment.

And what did we find? Another example of the rare Three Birds Orchid! This must have been the year for them to bloom. This lone example was in much better shape then the ones I saw a month ago. It was also very popular with the local midge population.

52354066128_4d0fa27cc1_o.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


52353822496_8eb41c8143_o.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


52353822531_5c0fa414ec_o.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 

TNcasual

Top Veteran
Location
Tennessee
We ran across another clump of Three Birds Orchids over the weekend. They had already bloomed, so here are the seed heads. This must be the year for this species to bloom.

52369482897_49bc74eb61_o.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 
Top