Window on the Ossipees

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!

Window on the Ossipees 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.

Window on the Ossipees Rose pogonia native orchid

Rose pogonia are quite distinctive, usually with a pink hue.

Window on the Ossipees Rose pogonia alba Pogonia ophioglossoides

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.

Window on the Ossipees Calapogon tuberosa Grass Pink Orchid

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!




Window on the Ossipees Native Orchids


the dirty girl at dirty botany
Head dirty girl at!
Bug worshiper.
Slime mold fanatic.
Macrophotographer in training.

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2 thoughts on “Window on the Ossipees

  1. Karen solstad Reply

    Where is window on the ossipees?
    I have searched google maps and googled the trust that owns the land… ;(
    My Motherinlaw lives in Wakefield nh – my sister in law is in Wonalancet and I drive up quite often to my mother in laws- gage hill Rd. We took her to dinner on Mother’s Day up rte 16 In ossipee and I was scanning the road.
    I will be up at great east lake for a week the end of June and as I have spent hours and hours over 30 years noticing all the wonderful native plants at the family cottage there- natural landscape- no fertilizers or chemicals – I would love to gently explore and photograph some orchids!!! Love the blog! Thanks! Karen

  2. Michelle Post authorReply

    Hi Karen! Window on the Ossipees is one of those places that hides in full view! And you are right, there is very little online about it.
    Heading north on Rt 16 in Ossipee, it’s almost exactly two miles north of Hannaford/Ocean State Job Lot. It will be on the left, and there is a small pull off (no signs!) with local mountain views. If you get to Windy Fields Farm on your right, you’ve gone about 1/2 mile too far.
    When you pull in, there will be a covered gazebo area with information on your left. I’d recommend parking to the right, and you’ll head down onto the hill to the right of the parking lot. There is no marked trail, but you’ll see a cleared area through the trees. The first bit is a little wet, so be prepared. Once you get through that, though, it’s a hillside of orchids, especially when you’ll be here!
    Good luck!!

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