How many years have I known calypso orchids? Probably close to twenty. And yet this week when I went to visit my favorite nearby site in Nederland, CO, I learned something new.
Calypsos have a scent! It’s pure and sweet and light. Very fragrant, like lily-of-the-valley.
I leaned in close above this calypso community and inhaled deeply. Ahhh!
Calypso orchids (Calypso bulbosa) are also called fairy slipper orchids. And for good reason—they transport you when you find them, a surge of small joy.
They live in the boggy duff of a conifer forest, usually close to a creek or wash. The damp and shadowed earth is their preferred dwelling for calypso orchids seek out mycelium for mutual benefit, providing carbohydrates to the fungus at their feet and receiving the advantage of the mycelium’s huge network of nutrients fed into the flower’s roots.
If you missed the calypsos in Nederland—a few were beginning to fade when I saw them—you can always try the Ceran St. Vrain trail, about halfway down the hill, right beside the trail, where calypso orchids often bloom near the summer solstice.