Orchids Native to Northern Ontario
Photo by Benson Kua from Toronto, Canada - An ornamental Phaleonopsis orchid.
Orchids are one of the world’s largest plant families and have become highly sought after by indoor plant enthusiasts. Orchids have a lot going for them, they have medicinal properties, can be used as a soil amendment, and some are edible. Despite their popularity, it is a common misconception that orchids are only founds in tropical climates. There are in fact over 30 native orchid species in Northern Ontario alone. Below we will explore some of our favourites.
Pink Lady’s Slipper (Moccasin Flower) Orchid
The Pink Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium acaule) is a captivating orchid species that graces the forests of Northern Ontario with its enchanting presence. This striking plant stands out with its solitary, slipper-shaped flower that ranges in color from delicate shades of pink to vibrant magenta. Its stunning pink blooms and unique slipper-shaped flowers make it a beloved and sought-after plant by both botanists and nature enthusiasts, hence its unique name. That being said, the root of this beautiful plant was used as a remedy for nervousness, tooth pain, and muscle spasms in the late 1800s. Across its range, this plant grows 6 to 15 inches tall and flowers between May and July. This orchid thrives in the region’s acidic and well-drained soils, often found beneath the dappled shade of coniferous or mixed forests. This orchid faces conservation challenges due to its slow growth, specialized habitat requirements, and vulnerability to habitat loss and disturbance. Preserving the delicate ecosystems where the Pink Lady’s Slipper thrives is crucial to ensure the continued existence and enjoyment of this cherished species in Northern Ontario’s natural landscapes.
Photo by Ragesoss - Own work
Tall White Bog Orchid
The Tall White Bog Orchid (Platanthera dilatata), also know as the Sierra Bog Orchid, is a remarkable orchid species found in various regions, including Northern Ontario. This elegant plant showcases clusters of delicate, white flowers that bloom atop tall, slender stems. The White Bog Orchid thrives in wet, boggy habitats, often gracing the edges of marches, fens, or damp meadows. Its ability to adapt to such unique and challenging environments demonstrates its resilience and adaptability. It can be easily identified by the labellum, also called the lip. The labellum is distinctly dilated (broader at the base than the tip), and the flowers have a strong scent. The plant height ranges from 14 to 30 inches tall and blooms between July and August. In addition, when cooked, the root of the Tall White Bog Orchid tastes like frozen potatoes, adding another outstanding trait to this plant. As a native species, Plantanthera dilatata plays an essential role in the ecological balance of these wetland ecosystems, attracting pollinators and providing a source of beauty and wonder. Preserving the habitats where the White Bog Orchid resides is crucial for safeguarding its continued existence and maintaining the biodiversity of Northern Ontario’s natural landscapes.
Photo by Bill Bouton from San Luis Obispo, CA, USA - White/Fragrant Bog Orchid, "Platanthera dilitata" Uploaded by Orchi
Lesser Purple Fringed Bog Orchid
The Lesser Purple Fringed Bog Orchid (Platanthera psycodes) is a beautiful orchid, pollinated by smaller butterflies, skippers and moths. The specific name (psycodes) comes from a Greek word meaning “butterfly-like”, referring to the shape of the flowers. This striking plant stands out with its tall, slender stem and clusters of intricately fringed, purple flowers. Its vibrant blooms and dried roots were used by the Iroquois for protection against ghosts. Purple Fringed Orchid thrives in a variety of habitats, including meadows, wetlands, and open woodlands. This alluring species ranges from 1 to 5 feet tall, and flowers between July and August. Platanthera psycodes holds ecological significance as an indicator species, as its presence often indicated a healthy and diverse ecosystem. Conservation efforts are crucial to protect the habitats where this
orchid species thrives.
Photo by wackybadger https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=118621455
In conclusion, orchids in Northern Ontario thrive with their remarkable adaptability to the region’s unique environment. Their delicate beauty adds a touch of elegance to the diverse flora found in this captivating region. Exploring the enchanting world of Northern Ontario’s orchids reveals a harmonious blend of nature’s resilience and artistic splendor.