On August 1st I was working with Bob & Gerry Bennicoff and our summer intern Graham Steinhauer in the Hopkins Road Prairie. We were collecting Canada bluejoint grass and having a great time with it. The day was clear and sunny and all around us we could see the prairie turning towards the colors of late summer: yellow from cup plants and rosinweeds, purple from blazing stars and bergamot, and red from fading grasses. I remember thinking that here, all around me, were plants that I worked with every day, watched through all the life stages, and knew intimately.
Imagine my surprise and delight then, when trudging back to the vehicle to empty a full bucket of seed, I spotted a beautiful purple flower, unknown and isolated, the only one of its kind in the area. One glance told me it was an orchid, and as luck would have it, The Prairie Enthusiasts newsletter, The Prairie Promoter had just had a article describing this exact plant. Read Scott Weber's excellent article about the purple fringed orchid and learn more about this special plant. Then come out to Goose Pond and search for your own unknown plant!
We have since fenced our purple fringed orchid to protect it from deer and we'll be checking to see if any seed pods develop.
Written by Maddie Dumas, Goose Pond Sanctuary land steward