Stem. - Four-angled, with leaf-like bracts, rising from fleshy, fibrous roots. Leaves. - Two, oblong, shining, three to six inches long. Flowers. - In a loose spike, purple-pink, the lower lip white.
This flower not only charms us with its beauty when its clusters begin to dot the rich May woods, but interests us as being usually the first member of the Orchis family to appear upon the scene; although it is claimed in certain localities that the beautiful Calypso always, and the Indian moccason occasionally, precedes it.
Plate LXII. Showy Orchis. - 0. spectabilis
A certain fascination attends the very name of orchid. Botanist and unscientific flower-lover alike pause with unwonted interest when the discovery of one is announced. With the former there is always the possibility of finding some rare species, while the excitement of the latter is apt to be whetted with the hope of beholding a marvellous imitation of bee or butterfly fluttering from a mossy branch with roots that draw their nourishment from the air ! While this little plant is sure to fail of satisfying the hopes of either, it is far prettier if less rare than many of its brethren, and its interesting mechanism will repay our patient study. It is said closely to resemble the "long purples," O. mascula, which grew near the scene of Ophelia's tragic death.