Fairy slippers (Calypso bulbosa) in the Bulkley Valley. (Jim Pojar photo)

Fairy slippers (Calypso bulbosa) in the Bulkley Valley. (Jim Pojar photo)

The Nature Nut

Rosamund Pojar

One of the prettiest and most delightful spring wildflowers should be flowering about now.

It is a small orchid with rose-purple, showy flowers called the fairy slipper or calypso orchid (Calypso bulbosa).

It also has a delicious perfume, but you must get down and lie flat on your belly to really appreciate it (it is what we call a “belly flower”).

The plants prefer forested areas rich with leaf mould, but clusters of them may be found at the edge of the forests on the rocky southwest-facing slopes of the Bulkley Valley and similar locations throughout northwest B.C.

Unfortunately, these beauties are disappearing in populated areas due to trampling and especially picking.

There is only one flower per stalk and one leaf per plant both coming from a small bulb-like corm.

When the flower is plucked, even the slightest tug will break the roots of the plant and kill it.

Calypso was the goddess daughter of Atlas and Homer’s beautiful nymph hidden in the forest – love her and leave her. Kalypso also means ‘concealed’ – an apt name for a flower often hidden in mossy, shady hideaways.

This problem with picking also applies to most wildflowers that grow from a corm or bulb, for example, all orchids, lilies, and flowers in the iris family.

It is best to admire, to photograph and to leave them there for others to enjoy.