Sometimes the coolest places are the most unassuming ones.
Take Window on the Ossipees, for example.
A small dirt parking lot off of busy Route 16.
A covered picnic table tucked away in the corner.
A view of some nice, albeit small, mountains.
And what appears to be a large, overgrown, sandy field that someone logged the hell out of. Or an old gravel pit.
In reality, it had been cleared for a driving range which – thankfully – never happened.
The town of Ossipee now owns it, the conservation easement is held by the Dan Hole Pond Watershed Trust and, even though it looks pretty damn ugly from the road, it is FULL of native orchids!
Do you see all those flowers? They are ALL Pogonia ophioglossoides…. Rose pogonia. The entire hillside is covered like this… thousands and thousands and thousands of orchids! Rose pogonia thrives all over New England; it is ranked S2 in Massachusetts, but is quite stable in the other states.
Rose pogonia are quite distinctive, usually with a pink hue.
THIS was something we don’t often see, though. Pogonia ophioglossoides variation alba! We love a good alba variation (check out the alba Pink Lady’s-slipper HERE!)! Keith ended up finding another var. alba a bit later in the season in Tuftonboro, and that one had two flowers per stem as well. If you are going to be weird, you might as well by really weird.
That’s kind of a Dirty Botany motto.
Calopogon tuberosus, or the Grass Pink orchid, might just be my favorite spring native orchid. A goal for this spring is to get video of a Grass Pink orchid being pollinated. Bees land on the bottom lip of the plant, thinking they are going to get nectar. The weight of them brings the top labellum down to touch their back which deposits the pollen on the bee! Likewise, if the bee already has pollen on it’s back from another Calopogon tuberosa, the stigma will pick it up and the plant will then be pollinated (1).
It is certainly worth a drive to visit Window on the Ossipees. I’m going to guarantee that 98% of the local folks who drive by Windows on the Ossipees every day (twice!) have no idea what beauty is there! I’ve stopped quite a few times on my way home from work and certainly get funny looks for jumping out of my car all dressed up from work, trading my heels for muck boots, and heading into hillside. But hey, life is busy. If I have an extra few minutes to explore, I will!
I do encourage you to stop by and check them out. The middle to end of June is the perfect time for these two species. We’ll update with the different orchids blooming here throughout the summer!