Tag Archives: lady tresses

Wild Orchids

My mother loved reading Nero Wolfe mysteries by Rex Stout. Twice each day he would go up to his orchid rooms where he grew many beautiful and sometimes rare orchids.

Missouri has orchids growing wild. Lady slippers are the ones most people think of but there are many others. Lady tress orchids are blooming now to frost.

I am most familiar with slender lady tresses. These little orchids are only six or eight inches tall. Then I saw a similar one almost two feet tall!

gay feathers

Considered a kind of aster, gay feathers look like two foot tall purple topped candles.

I had stopped along the highway because a group of gay feathers were blooming. These bright pinkish purple stalks are eye-catching.

Walking back to see and photograph the gay feathers I came across hairy wild petunias and yellow partridge peas. The partridge peas are painting the roadsides yellow for a time.

partridge pea

Each partridge pea petal is an inch long making these big flowers. The leaflets will fold up if touched.

Returning to my truck I walked past in search of a white flower glimpsed as I found a place to pull into off the highway. Other flowers were blooming along my way.

The highway roadside is a difficult place to grow. Little topsoil is there. Lots of gravel and dry dirt crunches underfoot. Yet these plants grow and thrive in spite of the mowers and traffic.

flax flower

This small yellow flax flower is only a half inch across but there are many of them on each plant.

A small yellow flower was blooming. It wasn’t at its best, obviously a morning flower but one was still nice. It turned out to be flax, a flower I had never seen before.

The spiral of lady tress orchids is unmistakable. White tubular flowers hang off a green central stalk. The line of flowers spirals around the stalk.

lady tress orchid stalk

A single strand of white flowers spirals around the flower stalk of this lady tress orchid.

These flowers didn’t have the green spot on the lower lip so they definitely weren’t a giant slender lady tress plant.

At home I consulted my “Missouri Orchids” by Bill Summers. To my surprise there are seven kinds of lady tress orchids in Missouri. My surprise find was a spring lady tresses that blooms in summer in Missouri.

lady tress orchid flowers

Each half inch long orchid flower has a keel under it and a lip petal with a yellow spot on it.

That is one reason roadsides are special places. It is one place wild plants can grow and bloom. They are prairie remnants escaping plows and herbicides. Until the mowers go by.