One of the best kept secrets of Door County is also one of the most colorful! Few realize that the Door Peninsula is home to 33 of the 40 Orchid varieties native to Wisconsin! No trips to the tropics needed to see beautiful and unique flowers!
Each June, the roadsides and woodland trails fill with bright yellow Lady Slipper orchids. Appearing in such large numbers around Ellison Bay, it is easy to confuse them with dandelions at first glance! Tucked into the shady cedar forests around Bailey’s Harbor, several varieties of Coral Root orchid grow where sunbeams break through. The largest and most abundant of the Coral Roots, the Striped Coral Root, loves the old growth hemlock forests of Toft Point Natural Area. Large clumps of Striped Coral root can be found growing right near the parking lot and entrance! Be sure to keep your eye out for the light green Early Coral Root,
Though barely larger than a thumb nail, the Ram’s Head makes a big impression with purple veining and a frothy white lip. At one time it was thought that fewer than 30 plants existed in Wisconsin. The populations are rebounding and new colonies are being discovered around the Bailey’s Harbor area. The Ridges Sanctuary in Bailey’s Harbor has been working to conserve this special little orchid and has planted nearly 1500 seedlings they have propagated. Stop in to the new nature center at the Ridges for more information on their efforts with the Ram’s Head and other rare and threatened plants!
There are many wonderful things to see in Door County and the orchids are no exception!