Thursday, October 13, 2011

Great Plains Ladies' Tresses Still Blooming

I’ve been able to make several visits to the Great Plains Ladies’ Tresses since I found the first blooming plants two weeks ago. In that period, this plant with the twisted flower stalk has gone from just a couple of open blooms at the lower end of the spiral, to an almost full spike. I’m sure this plant can keep up the display for another couple of weeks.

The double plant is also showing its ability to produce a prolonged floral display. I’ve never before measured the longevity of the blooms. The older flowers look just as fresh today as they did two weeks ago. I wonder if that is any indicator of the flower’s status in terms of pollination. Has it been pollinated or not? Many blooms begin to decline after pollination, since there is no longer a need to attract pollinators. I guess I’ll have a chance to witness the aging of these flowers over the coming weeks, so I’ll just have to see what develops.

There are still many new flower stalks showing themselves on the hillside. It’ll probably be November before the tip of this spike begins to bloom.

The scattered orchid flowers are still hard to see, even when fully blooming. I made a rough count of 29 blooming plants and there are still several that are just sending up a flower spike. The flowers may be hard to see, but the fragrance cannot be overlooked. The day I took these shots I could smell the flowers from one hundred yards away. I was so far from this spot that I thought I had found another population, but when I followed the scent I ended up here.

The majority of plants are on the upper slopes of the hill. I was pleased to find seven blooming plants on these lower slopes. Up until now, my record for lower slope blooms was two plants. I hope this means that seed is being produced and new plants are developing on the site. It would probably be hard to determine whether these were new plants or just old plants responding to ideal growing conditions. Whichever the case, I’ll just continue to enjoy these plants for the next few weeks.


  1. Very interesting facts about the double plant:) You must have a very sharp sense of smell to be able to detect the scent of the flowers 100 yards away!

  2. ...I just posted Great Plains too! I thought they were Nodding at first, but Andrew let me know they were Great Plains. The plant is so striking, and you have 29 blooming plants! I only saw a few...

  3. Lucky you having such a nice stand of these wonderful plants on your property. They are among my favorite fall flowers.

  4. Hi, Mona. It helps that the fragrance from this flower is so strong. It can sometimes be almost overpowering.

    Hi, Kelly. I saw your post and thought it funny that we would both show pictures of such an uncommon plant, but our pictures came from opposite ends of the State. You were probably having so much fun at the Symposium that you suffered sensory overload and couldn't smell the fragrance of the orchid.

    Hi, Ted. It was an exciting day when I first found these plants. Now I look forward to their appearance each year.

  5. They're blooming now in Ted's and my "neighborhood", too.
    Just wondering, which aster is that flecking the landscape shot with lavender?

  6. Hi, James. That's Aster undulatus.