MENGEL NATURAL HISTORY
Reading Public Museum and Gallery
NUMBER 3 June 1951
THE ORCHIDS OF BERKS COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA
By HANS WILKENS
An orchid is a plant with perfect, irregular, symmetrical flowers. There
are three sepals and three petals, borne on the top
of the ovary. The middle petal, called the lip—properly the upper one, but usually at the bottom, due to the twisting of the
ovary—is larger and more conspicuous than the others. The flower has either one or two stamens, united with the style to
form the column. The seeds are very small and numerous. The leaves, when present, are parallel-veined, entire, narrow and
grass-like or broader.
The orchids are among the few groups of plants in which there is popular
interest, due chiefly to the showy flowers of
some of the tropical species and their reputation for rarity. To the scientist, they are of special interest because of adaptation
to specific insects for pollination, and their dependence on certain fungi, without which the seeds will not grow.
Most of our native orchids are inconspicuous plants, restricted to little
disturbed swamps and woodlands. The pink and
the yellow lady's slippers, the showy orchis, and the yellow fringed orchid are common and attractive enough to be in danger
of extermination from picking.
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