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Finding fairy-slippers: a little north woods magic

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The scientific name for the delicate orchid is the calypso bulbosa, but it is more commonly known as the fairy-slipper. The Ely Echo reports that wildlife enthusiasts are carefully treading in the north woods right now in search of the rare blossom, famous for being the season's earliest orchid.

Serious and amateur botanists are on the prowl for the short-lived fairy slipper, which begins to bloom around the end of May. Experienced hunters often hit pay dirt while wandering along the trails that deer travel. They should be prepared to get their feet wet, searching for the sensitive species in dim forest areas around mossy hummocks and wet pools under white cedars.

These lovers of natural history bring cameras, patience and, frequently, a recently revised guidebook called Native Orchids of Minnesota by Welby Smith, which offers information on the calypso as well as the other forty-nine species of orchids found in Minnesota.

The fairy slippers may be photographed, but should not be removed, picked or transplanted from the cedar forests.

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