Earlier this week, many of the ambassadors from the Ohio Governor’s Heritage Garden saddled up for a whirlwind bus trip to some of Northern Ohio’s best natural places.
The first stop was at Resthaven Wildlife area, just west of Castalia, Ohio. Owned by the Ohio Division of Wildlife, this 2,272 acre plot is one of the most botanically diverse areas in the state and if includes the largest remnant of native prairie to be found in Ohio. I have visited this location in the summer, enjoying the full beauty of head-high grasses and forbs, but today’s photo features it’s crown glory of spring: the endangered small White Lady’s-slipper Orchid, Cypripedium candidum.
Emerging from the rubble-like natural formations of tufa rock, these orchids are smallest of Ohio’s lady’s-slippers, and are fit for a pint-sized princess. This turtle height view reveals the rare white flowers that been compared to a field of golf balls. Breath-taking to behold and mixed in with many other mega-rarities, if you go to visit be careful where you step, as rare plant life is found everywhere.
Geology and fire have played key roles in the production of this field of orchids. The plants are calci-aphilic, and would not exist if not for the lime-rich tufa rock. (A whole blog should be written on tufa rock and I may challenge some geologist to do just that!) It would be tough going for them to compete with prairie plants and the woody plants that tend to pioneer on open prairies- without fires. So burning this prairie has become key to maintaining the balance of vegetation, and without the fire- the orchids would not be able to continue in this unique habitat.
Thanks again to Bob Giehl for setting up this bus trips, and Hope Taft, Jennifer Windus, Guy Denny and some of the best naturalists in the state who joined us there!