Walk in the Woods

Showy Orchis: Overhead View

The much-anticipated Mount Rogers naturalist rally was aborted for some disappointed Floyd Countians this year due to storm damage in the campground, but a small group of us had breakfast together, followed by a pleasant outing on Saturday morning.

We saw more plants in leaf then in flower, one of the latter being the striking showy orchis, pictured here.

While I have ample views of this species in the photographic archives, this is, I believe, the first time I have ever photographed it looking down on the plant.

This perspective shows the growth pattern and flower arrangement for the species, which goes a long way to explaining why it is so difficult to get a decent picture of it, with all flowers simultaneously in focus.

The other thing this view shows well is the large, almost tropical, leaves, which will persist after these pastel-colored flowers disappear.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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