This week’s flower is the fairy slipper orchid, Calypso bulbosa. This is perhaps the most beautiful, breathtaking flower we have. It graces our high woodlands for only a few weeks and is now at its height. By July it will be gone. The Family Orchidea is has perhaps the largest number of species of any family, mostly in the tropics. Los Alamos has nine species, most with very small flowers. Our large flowered ones are fairy slipper and yellow lady slipper, although the latter may be gone due to flooding in Frijoles Canyon. Fairy slippers, which grow only a few inches tall, have been greatly reduced due to fires—they grow from bulbs but can’t survive the lack of shade when they come up. It is still found here and there in the high woods – you may find them along the trail from the ski hill to Cañada Bonito – bringing joy to anyone who comes across them.
When you’re at the Nature Center, a beautiful rendering of it can be seen at the in the observation room, painted by Travis Black. Be sure to stop by and take a look.