|  Home  |   About us  |   Programs & Projects  |   Calendar  |   Birding  |   Blog  |   Get Involved  |

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wildflower Wednesday #6

On a special edition of Wildflower Wednesday, we'll explore the wildflowers of a bog!  Bogs are a type of wetland that are high in acidity and low in nutrients.  Despite these conditions, bogs in Vermont are booming with color as the various heaths, shrubs, and orchids begin to flower.

Rhodora has a striking flower, and a single bush can be full of these vibrant blossoms. 

Bog Laurel is another bright, pink flower of bogs.  The similar-looking Sheep Laurel can be distinguished by having its cluster of flowers along the stem rather than at its tip. 

Bog Rosemary's bell-shaped flowers hang low and can easily go overlooked.  Unlike the culinary herb, Bog Rosemary is known to cause health problems when ingested.

Black Chokeberry can be a common or even abundant plant in bogs, and its flowers are pollinated primarily by small bees.

Perhaps the most coveted flowers of the bog ecosystem are the orchids.  While many might associate orchids with the tropics, over thirty species can be found in bogs in the northeast.  Many are rare and all are beautiful, with elaborately ornamental petals that are specially designed to attract their insect pollinators. 

In "Bog's of the Northeast", Charles Johnson describes the pollination strategy of the Pink Lady's Slipper (right) like this:

"A bee - the usual pollinator - enters through a slit in the top of the pouch, perhaps associating the fragrance with nectar which the hairs do not have.  Once it finds itself deceived, it turns to leave, but the only visible exit is not by the entry slit but at the top.  Departing, it must crawl past the column.  In doing so it rubs against the pollinium, which sticks to the bee.  After the bee has been deceived by a second flower and is leaving it, the pollinium strikes the stigma, where it becomes stuck even more firmly by a special stigmatic glue, thus completing the bee's role in the cross-pollination."

No comments:

Post a Comment