I was heading out to do some work on the property line fence yesterday, when I stumbled across a pair of Crested Coral-root Orchids, Hexalectris spicata, in full bloom. The stumbling part was nearly a reality. I was coming down a steep slope with a heavy cedar fence post balanced on my shoulder when I was forced to perform some fancy footwork to avoid stepping on this delicate plant. The fence job had to wait for a while as I took time out to admire this lovely flower.
The exciting thing about the find was the fact that I had never before found this species growing in this location. Finding new locations for rare plants is almost as exciting as finding a new species of rare plant. The flower stalks are located near the lower half of a west facing slope on a steep limestone knob. Click HERE for information about the Crested Coral-root and information on what I thought was the only location for the species at Blue Jay Barrens.
As on the other site, these flower stalks are emerging in the root zone of a Chinquapin Oak. However, this oak is probably not over 40 years old, much younger than the trees at the other site. This could mean that the plant is a fairly recent arrival to this spot.
Both stalks are quite tall and straight. Deer love these plants and will eat the flower stalk right down to the ground. I hope these last long enough to produce seeds.
Flower buds are still developing, meaning that the flowers will be around for another week or two. Fortunately, I have several more days work to accomplish in that general area, so I should be able to enjoy these blooms as long as they last.