A species of orchid more commonly found on the Great Prairies, Spiranthes magnicamporum, has been discovered just 45 minutes outside of Canada's capital city of Ottawa, Ontario.
Eastern Ontario has a rich-smelling species of orchid never recognized here until now, the Great Plains ladies’-tresses which, as the name suggests, mostly grows from Manitoba down to Texas.
It's a long way from its nearest neighbour, and and has left botanists scratching their heads about why it lives here.
A likely explanation is that the orchids have been here since soon after the glaciers melted, leaving a scraped, rocky landscape 10,000 years ago. The orchids and dropseed grass may have covered a lot of the land back then, before being choked out as forests took over.
The alvars remained rocky and open, preserving isolated pockets of orchids.
Proof positive that even in 2014, there are new things to discover in the natural world right at our feet.
Source: Ottawa Citizen, “What is this rich fragrance?” Eastern Ontario’s new orchid