Orchids Gone Wild: Over 150,000 Rare Ram’s Head Lady Slipper Orchids Seen In Ottawa, Experts Baffled

Orchids Gone Wild: Over 150,000 Rare Ram’s Head Lady Slipper Orchids Seen In Ottawa, Experts Baffled

 

An extremely rare type of orchid, which has a reputation for being picky about where it grows, thrives by the thousands in a private property in Ottawa, Canada – the largest orchid experts have seen anywhere in the world so far.

Ram’s Head Lady Slipper Orchid

Otherwise known with its botanical name Cypripedium arietinum, the ram’s head lady slipper orchid almost doesn’t grow anywhere.  As a matter of fact, it’s considered a threatened plant species in most parts of the world, such as in Northern U.S. states, Nova Scotia, and China.

The uncommon orchid beauty usually appears with a single burgundy-colored bloom tinged with white on its lip on each stems and three to five leaves. The ram’s head lady slipper orchid can grow from four up to 15 inches in height, with its flowers reaching up to an inch in circumference.

The blooming season for the ram’s head lady slipper orchid typically occurs from May to June. According to orchid experts, this kind of lady slipper orchid is almost impossible to cultivate, as it rarely survives transplantation once taken out of its natural environment from the wild.

Largest Ram’s Head Lady Slipper Orchid Population Ever Seen

Orchid of Eve

As mentioned, the ram’s head lady’s slipper orchid is particularly choosy about selecting its natural habitat. It only grows in alvars, an especially rare kind of natural landscape that can be found near the Great Lakes and in northern Europe where thin soil layer is set atop the limestone bedrock.

However, orchid experts have spotted at least 150,000 up to half a million population of the ram’s head lady’s slipper orchids at a quarry in Ottawa, Canada, outside the village of Braeside, west of Arnprior. But he adds that the entire ram’s head lady slipper orchid population could shoot up to half a million if we’re talking about the entire Braeside area.

“You’re looking at more ram’s heads right now than most botanists would see in a lifetime,” Dan Brunton, a field ecologist, told Ottawa Citizen.

An Orchid Mystery

According to Brunton, these orchids defy everything biologists already know about them.

A classic reference book called Native Orchids of the United States and Canada, Excluding Florida, says: “The nearly legendary ram’s head lady slipper remains a rare orchid, seen but by a few students of nature.”

Aside from the ram’s head lady slipper orchids, the area is also home to milk-vetch plants, which is also not seen growing in large quantities in other parts of the globe. Brunton and other orchid experts are baffled as to why the wild orchids love the Braeside area.

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