During our walk along the Schwarz Campground interpretive trail, I discovered that the Calypso flowers are currently in bloom. These are one of my favorite wild flowers (although, admittedly I have many favorites!).
This delicate looking plant is a native orchid. And although it is depends on a specific fungus in the soil to grow, we must have a lot of that fungus in our local woods because I see them regularly in the spring. This photo was taken last year at Wilson Creek Park along Cottage Grove Lake. Other nearby places that I’ve seen them are along the Row River Trail (as it passes Dorena Reservoir), and of course at Schwarz Campground.
I’m not the first person to be enamored with the Calypso flower. John Muir found it on his first botanizing trip in 1864 in a swamp in Ontario Canada. In The Life and Letters of John Muir, he writes “The rarest and most beautiful of the flowering plants I discovered on this first grand excursion was Calypso borealis…..This Calypso meeting happened some forty-five years ago, and it was more memorable and impressive than any of my meetings with human beings excepting, perhaps, Emerson and one or two others.” After finding the Calypso flower he wrote about it to one of his old professors, who sent John’s letter to “an Eastern newspaper [The Boston Recorder] with some comments of his own.” It became the first of John Muir’s words to appear in print.
I also know that my grandmother loved this flower as well. She tried repeatedly to transplant one into her yard (where she grew many native plants and flowers). She was never successful and eventually surmised that it had a symbiotic relationship with something in the soil. Of course, that was back in a time when it was acceptable to dig plants from the woods. Now we know that it is best to enjoy them where they are.