My name is Dragon’s-mouth

Orchid, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Allenberg Bog in New York

How’s that for a catchy name? You’d think that Colgate or Crest would have made this pert beauty a sometimes celebrity.

Scrutinizing the sphagnum moss bog for Bog copper butterflies, and finding them! was very exciting. Seventeen years of pursuing butterflies, and finally, bog coppers. Working through the bog matt of bouncy “carpet” you knew you were liable to find very, very exotic butterflies, insects, animals and plants.

When this orchid was spotted, I felt like using one of those old lines, “Hello baby, where have you been all my life?” No more than 7″ tall, it just stood there, a fairy princess, looking as delicate as delicate can be, and not a court attendant in sight. Nearby were several others, separated nicely from one another.

The sense was, this is a rare and extraordinary orchid, described by Paul Martin Brown, in his Wild Orchids of the Northeastern United States, as a “regionally significant species.” That is how I viewed it, a rare, hard to find, fragile example of G-d’s handiwork. I was there at exactly the right time, for days earlier, nope! and a few days later? nope!

For thousands of years, Arethusa bulbs Linnaeus has persevered in this unique, western New York bog.  Allenberg Bog is also known to some as Waterman’s Swamp, Congdon’s Pond, and Owlenburg Bog and is on the border of the towns of Napoli and New Albion, New York in Cattaraugus County. A unique and fascinating refuge of 390 acres, it is the jewel of the Buffalo Audubon Preserve System. The orchid looked fragile and vulnerable, but surviving, and producing anew. If this slight, delicate flower can, then we surely can, is what I thought.


2 thoughts on “My name is Dragon’s-mouth

  1. if a fragile orchid blooms in its particular habitat and no one photographs it…what a loss! thank you for trudging through the wilds, dragging camera gear and emergency back ups to bring these treasures to those of us who would never have the op to know about these beauties without your dedication!


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