Orchids, testicles, Rehoboth Beach roses, other goodies

May 21, 2020

Okay, okay - That headline is a shameless effort to catch your attention and get you to read this.  But there is authenticity to it.

Corona has offered lots of time and incentive for hiking and bicycling and we've been doing a lot of it.  That’s where the testicles come in.  I’ll get right to it.

We crossed paths last week with Gavin and Lou on the Salt Marsh Trail in Cape Henlopen State Park.  Gavin asked us if we had seen the orchids.  “They’re right at the next trail crossroads on the bank on the left.”

I didn’t know what he was talking about for a moment but then a bell rung in my head.  “Do you mean the lady slippers?”  We had passed through Henlopen Acres an hour earlier and came by an ivy-covered yard with a number of what I’ve always known as Lady Slippers in full bloom.

“Yes, that’s right,” said Gavin in his clipped British accent.  “They only bloom at this time of the year. Did you know that the orchid name comes from a Greek word meaning testicle?” He had dry English humor in his eyes. ven though his mouth was covered with a bandit-style bandanna, I knew he was smiling. 

“If you’ve ever cut pigs [cut is a short way of saying castrate] you’ll know exactly why the orchid comes by its root name honestly.  Take a look and you’ll see.”

We conversed a little more, socially distanced, thanked Gavin for his tip, parted ways, and went off to take a closer look at the orchids.  You see one of them at the top of this blog. I’ve never taken a close look at a pig’s testicle - having never cut a pig except in a high school biology class when we dissected a fetal pig.  “Sgusting!” as Franny would say. But I don’t think that pig’s testicles had descended yet.  So I’ll take it on Gavin’s word that what the photo shows looks very similar to a mature pig’s testicle.

I still prefer to think that they look like a lady’s slipper - maybe a Dutch-style lady’s slipper - but I have to admit that takes more imagination than the pig’s testicle.

Curiously enough, on a hike the day before with Cliff, we came across a wildly blooming tree near the fence surrounding the Wolfe Neck wastewater treatment plant where a new trail is being planned.  “Do you think that’s some kind of orchid?” asked Cliff.  

“I don’t think so.  It looks like it’s blooming off of a tree and I don’t think orchids are the blossom of a tree.” Thinking about it though, it was a good question because orchids often do bloom in the cracks and crevices of trees, like an epiphyte.

We were no closer to the truth until the next day when I showed the photo of those blossoms to Gavin and Lou.  Lou took a look.  “Maybe pawlonia,” she said.  

Later in the day Gavin sent me a link he found on the web. Lou was spot open.  Pawlonia blossoms they are.  Who would ever have thought we’d come across a blooming pawlonia - a fast-growing Asian import - on the perimeter of the wastewater treatment lagoon?

Here are a few more photos of things I found notable from this week’s hiking and biking.


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