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Plant of the Week: Calopogon tuberosus

Plant of the Week! This isn’t a spring-blooming plant, but we could all use some bright flowers right now. The Grass-pink is a native orchid found in high-quality bogs, fens, and wet meadows. It grows a single long, linear leaf and a raceme of 2-15 magenta (or rarely, white) flowers. It is a small but beautiful plant. Many pollinators visit the flowers, including bumblebees, halictid bees, beetles and butterflies. However, the flowers don’t provide the insects with any resources: instead, they trick them with pseudo-stamens. Bees are the primary pollinator because their weight on the flower causes the hinged lip of the flower to collapse into itself, attaching pollen on the back of the bee. If the bee makes the same mistake with another Grass-pink, the same mechanism will cause the pollen to contact the stigma, resulting in pollination. Start looking for the flowers in mid-June, but please don’t pick them! Grass-pinks are rare in some states as habitat loss and over-collecting have caused populations to decline.

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