Deb Field - Jewels of the Forest
I’m an Environmental Science teacher and Master Naturalist for CT’s Goodwin Conservation Center. I’ve just completed the first year of a 2-year study of terrestrial orchids (Goodyera pubescens and Cypripedium acaule) in a preserve in eastern Connecticut. I started with a question that was largely derailed by an unexpected gypsy moth infestation that defoliated my study site! I came out with enough new questions to extend my study. I’ll be publishing my preliminary results in January.
I fell into orchid research by accident. Everyone recognizes Lady Slippers (Cypripedium acaule) but most people walk right by Goodyera pubescens, unless you’re a forest botany geek (like me). I found my first one by accident 10 years ago, ID’d it and fell in love. Now, everywhere I hike within their range, I look for them. And I talk to them too because the silly little buggers sometimes grow right in the middle of the trail!
Most of the time, I’m wandering in the forest alone to collect my data so I never have pictures of me. But the picture above came from a hike I led for Goodwin Conservation Center to talk about sundew plants. On the hike out, I spied this little patch of Goodyera and got so excited that I wound up educating the group on orchids too. My favorite thing is sharing all the unexpected and overlooked things the forests hold for us!