May Photo of the Month: Showy Orchid

June 02, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Photo of the Month

While hiking through the woods looking for spring woodland flowers and morels; I came across a delicate flower I have never seen before. After some research, I discovered it was a showy orchid. I never really thought of Iowa having orchids, but did you know that Iowa has 32 species of native orchids? In 1843 the first collections were made until 1987 when all 32 species were recorded. The showy orchid leaves appear in late April and bloom in May. This specie likes to grow in deciduous woodlands and grows in damp, shady soils. They have a specialized lower petal that is a landing platform for insects to gather nectar. All Iowa orchids have very specific requirements for germination, growth and reproduction. Their presence or absence can provide conservationist an important clue about the quality of a natural site. For this reason, transplanting them almost always fails. Next time you are out in the woods take a closer look, maybe you can find a species of native orchids. 

Check out this website to see a list of  Native Orchids in Iowa:





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