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Steve Foss

Rare orchid and a few prairie friends

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Hey all:

I've been hit or miss on the board lately because I'm out in western Minnesota photographing a rare and endangered wild orchid. Just part of my quest to photograph all 43 of the species of orchids that grow wild in Minnesota.

The western prairie fringed orchid is listed as threatened nationally and endangered in Minnesota, so I'm not going to share the location here, but as you see it's a darn pretty flower, and we were lucky enough to find about 50 plants.

It also was nice to be able to shoot some prairie images after being up in the boreal forest the last five years. Cool to see an uninterrupted sky for a change, especially when the clouds have so much character.

All were shot with the Canon 30D. The images showing sky were shot with the 17-40 f4L at 17mm and Hoya circular polarizer. Non-sky shots were captured with the Canon 100 f2.8 macro. All were iso 400, all handheld.

Apologies if colors don't look just right. Traveling laptop, you know. And I see I missed cloning out a few dust spots from the sensor. Darn f16 to f22! gringrin

Western prairie fringed orchid 1

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WPFO 2

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WPFO 3

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WPFO 4

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Yellow coneflowers 1

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Yellow coneflowers 2

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Yellow coneflowers 3

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Milkweed

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Purple prairie clover

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Rough hedge-nettle

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Glad to see you were able to find some plants! Great shots, it is a beautiful flower. Hard to tell from the pix, but how tall are these plants? They look like they kinda tower above the surroundings. Also, for YOU to get that angle from your belly, they must be tall! gringrin

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Ken, I actually laid on my back for most of those sky shots. More than one way to skin an orchid! gringringrin

They run from 18 to about 24 inches tall, and since they were in a wetter area that had surprisingly low grasses surrounding them I was able to isolate them without too much work.

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Thanks, Ken.

Rare orchid or not, my two favorite ones are the lowly, very common yellow coneflower against the sky. Specifically the one with the two blooms. Something about those . . .

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They certainly DO pop! The wispy clouds and good contrast in the sky certainly add to this series!

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I have never seen that type of orchid before and I think that it is a very cool shot. thanks for sharing Steve.

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Thanks, guys.

Yeah, Stu, more than 95 percent of the tallgrass and shortgrass prairie the orchid calls home has been converted to farmland. Same old story. Most of what's left is preserved in a handful of federal wildlife refuges and DNR preserves and scientific and natural areas.

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Beautiful shots Steve. I can't find an ID on that last flower either. My book is usually good but I find nothing that resembles that flower.

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Beautiful photos Steve. Looks like your having a great trip.

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Thanks, Dan. For general wildflowers, I use the Peterson guide to wildflowers of North America, and it's excellent. In this case there are several that look close but none that quite match.

I'll e-mail it in to the DNR as soon as I find the right person to get it to. It's such a delicate and handsome flower that I'd really like to know what it is.

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All great flower images Steve!....very exotic to say the least!...I"think" I may have the answer to your "mystery plant"(after changing my post here from another grin)...It really looks to be an "American Germander"(Wood Sage)..opposing opposite,stalked leaves...hairy stems...sure looks like the image of yours! grinanother close looking plant would be the "hedge nettle" but I favor the wood sage) ....found it in my "Northland Wildflowers" by John and Evelyn Moyle...

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Jonny, it is a rough hedge-nettle (Stachys tenuifolia var. hispida). Looks like a sister to the germander. My flower guide shows germander with no hood over the stamens, and this flower has a hood, but the rough hedge-nettle is right next to the germander on the page and is a dead ringer. So then I Googled rough hedge-nettle and the pics are a perfect match.

Sure wish it had a prettier name for such a pretty flower.

Thanks for the help, buddy. It put me right in the ballpark! gringrin

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Very beautiful images Steve.

I love the dynamics of these shots.

I will go on record to say # 1 is my favorite... maybe # 5.... no # 1.... # 5 it is.

Thanks again!!

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