Canada/AB: Jasper NP – Calypso Orchids

It’s been a very long time that I have been trying to find the Calypso Orchid (Calypso Bulbosa, it is the only species in the genus). While they are spread circumpolar (all around the North Pole) – northern USA and Canada, Scandinavia, and Russia – they are very rare, bloom very early (often still in snow), don’t transplant at all (they need specific fungi present in the soil), live less then 5 years, and don’t pollinate well. And yet here in the Canadian Rockies they are common and spectacular. There are no other spring wildflowers yet, and the Calypso orchids are often looking out of place with beautiful purple flowers. Calypso are pollinated only by bumblebees – the flowers use “false pollination” technique, tricking the insects into thinking they will find nectar, while offering none. Bumblebees are not that stupid and usually don’t come back to the orchids. These orchids are considered endangered pretty much all around the world. I have been trying to find this orchid more or less for the last 20 years.

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