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Orchids at Watershed Park??!!

images[4]rattlesnake orchid flowerRush Rush Rush!!  We are always in a rush…  In Watershed Park Surrey BC, a perfect place to unwind, to walk with friend or dog.  It`s cool and shady beneath the canopy of maples, firs and cedars. The sounds of birds chattering, wood peckers pecking and calling their mates or warding off enemies. Squirrels, busy dropping fir cones and fighting with stellar`s jays over hazelnuts, stashing their seeds and nuts or tending to their offspring. Ravens circling and cawing above the trees, snakes slithering away from the dry grasses on the side of trails. Occasional hooting of the Great Horned owl on the lower trail can be heard amidst the deciduous trees, even during the day. The three luscious blackberry varieties and salal berries at this time of the month are waiting to be sampled… We are busy, talking with fellow walkers or running with head phones on or just walking…..absorbed in our own thoughts. Yet if we just try to listen, to the sounds, smell the scents of the forest, touch an occasional plant or leaf or some bark of a tree and really look down below where our feet pass the trail or up above where the tree tops meet, we become more aware…aware of our surroundings, not just run through it in a hurry, but feel part of it !!  While I re-tying my shoe laces  on the lower trail, just before going up the main path,  where you can see the concrete watershed ahead, there on the right hand side it was. First I saw one orchid, examined it, then there were more in the same area hidden amongst some weeds. Unfortunately, my photo is not very good, I blame low light or shade for a proper capture. This is a very inconspicuous orchid, nothing like the store bought orchids, but an orchid never the less! They are not uncommon, you just have to look for them! This one is a variety of Alaska rein orchid.  Excitedly I wanted to show my fellow Nature Nuts these orchids on the next walk, the following week. I was dumbfounded to discover that the orchids had been mowed down to make the trail tidy and wider, earlier that week!!! This mowing was done only on the main trail and hopefully other plants will proliferate along the smaller trails of the park! I discovered another kind of orchid at the upper part of the trail along number 10 highway! The picture below shows the Rattlesnake plantain orchid, it has a very interesting looking leaf, which forms in rosettes at base, with a flower stalk, 6 inches tall, if you look really close, kneeling on the ground in front of it, you can see the lower lip of the flower petal on which the insect, like a small flower wasp, lands and then gets doused with pollen from the top part of its petal!  The Saanich peoples used to think that this plant would cure rattle snake bites, because its leaves resemble a snake skin pattern. Native children would pick a leaf and gently rub it with fingers to loosen the thin  membrane of the upper and bottom part of the leaf and blow it up like a balloon! The aboriginal peoples of the west coast used this plant medicinally for pregnancy  related  issues. The plant was chewed by a woman before and at the time of childbirth to ensure an easy delivery.  The leaves were also used as a poultice  and were applied to cuts and sores. An infusion was made of the leaves and used a  liniment in bathwater for  stiff muscles. The plant is named after a 17th century botanist, John Goodyer. Finding wild orchids is not that rare, as a matter of fact I find one or two in my garden occasionally, in different spots every time. Most of the time I find have totally missed them while gardening and then discovered them done flowering and  already in seed, in a shady  and less travelled part of my yard! rattlesnake plantain orchid Look, listen, smell imagesGE9JJWQAand touch, you never know what you will find! Taste those berries and yes, salal berries are edible and delicious! August 10 2014

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