The wooded ravine between the sandy hills is shady and moist in May. The new leaves on the oaks are dense now and bring shade which for many months has been absent from the woodlands. Ferns uncurl and grow tall. Nettles are developing still' stinging hairs. The grosbeak is nesting in the tangle of bittersweet and the towhees have a nest with young on the ground beneath the ferns. At the bottom of the ravine a little rivulet, dry in mid-summer, -till runs rapidly over the shaly stones, and drops down in a series of tiny waterfalls to the lower levels where the water thrush teeters and sings.
Liparis lilifolia ( L. ) Rich.
May - June. Deep, wooded ravines.
In this quiet, secluded, moist spot in an Illinois ravine, there springs into being an orchid. From its two perfect, pale green, cupping leaves just above the ground there is a stout, glossy stem thickly set with buds. These, as the days pass, extend themselves, each on its own stalk, at angles from the stem, and the lowest buds at last open into a strange, ornamental blossom which could be nothing less than an orchid. Magnified in size, it might be a strange tropical species in a Brazilian jungle. lint this is the greater twayblade in an Illinois woods.
The flowers are broadly lipped, silky maroon creations of form and color, with dangling, greenish and ruddy petals and honey tubes. There in the ravine the twayblade contain- in itself something of an aloof personality which sets it apart from all other plant- growing there. This, it says, is an orchid, a rare, beautiful, intricate mechanism.