Showy Orchis

By William T. Hathaway

Showy Orchis (Orchis spectabilis)

The Showy Orchis (Orchis spectabilis) appears locally from early April until early May. (Orchis is the Greek word for “orchid.” Botanical authors retain “orchis” instead of “orchid” as a matter of tradition.) Most specimens are found in woodlands on gentle slopes or moist soil along seepage areas.

Some of us so-called naturalists, when we spot our first spring specimen, find our imagination transfixed by this elusive beauty. J. Otis Swift wrote about a naturalist's impressions:

“This is the golden treasure they know they can take with them out of the world when they go, for it makes up the wealth of the heart and soul, and it cannot be left to heirs for it must be gained, if gained at all, each for himself. It is not transferable by will, or gift, or by keys to strongboxes.”