When we hear about orchids, we often think of exotic flowers from tropical countries. But many orchids can be found in temperate climate as well. Orchids can be found in all continents, except for Antarctica. Orchids are perhaps the most abundance in the world. There are about 20,000-30,000 known species of orchids and more are being discovered and produced through cross breeding.
In the wild, they are not as showy as the ones that had been hybridized for large flowers and color variations. The wild orchids found in the temperate climate tends to be smaller and less showy, but upon close viewing they can also be very intricate and delicate. The way orchids look in the wild tends to be more diverse than what we usually see in cultivation with their large flowers and waxy leaves. The wild orchids can look very different from their cultivated relatives.
Some of the wild orchids are the Lady Slippers and the Downy Rattlesnake Orchids.
The lady slippers are some of the flowers we think of that are found in woody undergrowth of a temperate forest. The most famous is the pink lady slippers found along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, throughout eastern North America. They are found in many places throughout Manitoba. Often found in sandy soil below pine forest. The Pink Lady Slippers are often associated with poor acidic soil.
Downy Rattlesnake Orchid
Though it can be easy to convince people that the Lady Slipper is an orchid, it is much tougher to see that the Downy Rattlesnake Orchid is actually an orchid. The beautiful, white veins, plantain-looking plant can easily be mistaken for a weed. The leaves are usually flat against the group and the flowering stem resembles other wild flowers stalk. I am often reminded of the foxglove flowering stalk before the buds open. Commonly found in New England part of the north eastern part of the United States. Hardy plants, the leaves of the Downy Rattlesnake orchids can live for 4 years and remain green even in the snow.