DuPont Forest is home to some very unique flora and fauna. We encourage all visitors to help protect the plant and wildlife by staying on the trails and taking only pictures.
Yellow Lady’s Slipper Orchids
There are two varieties of the yellow lady’s slipper, and both have been found in DuPont State Recreational Forest. The most common one is Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens. It has a single flower per stalk, and the flower is about the same size as the much more common pink lady’s slipper. This variety has been found in six locations in DuPont, but some of the sites have several patches in the same area.
There other variety is Cypripedium parviflorum var. parviflorum. The flower is much smaller than the other variety, and often there are two flowers per stalk. It is much less common and is listed by the state as “significantly fare.” There are three known sites for this plant in DSRF. Flowering for both varieties is usually in mid-May.
Selaginella Moss Mats
Anyone who has ever trekked Big Rock or Cedar Rock trails has seen the large moss mats that cover much of the rock domes. The darker component of these mats is Twisted-hair Spikemoss (Selaginella tortipila) and the lighter green component is Reindeer Moss (Cladonia rangiferina). Neither of these are true mosses. They are frequently referred to as “fern allies,” an odd assortment of ancient plants that are phylogenetically more closely related to ferns than to any other group of living plants.
The mats can get up to 18 inches tall and are spongy to walk on. However, people should avoid walking on them as they can be hundreds of years old, and they recover from abuse very slowly.
In general, these are very tough plants living in a very tough environment: no soil, totally dependent on rain for water, baked under hot and continuous sun, no protection from wind, and often buried under winter snow.
The Yellow-Fringed Orchid (Platanthera ciliaris) is found in forest margins, meadows, and bogs. It is fairly common and widespread throughout Dupont Forest, and peak flowering is normally between August 10 to 19. It can be found as lone plants or in large clumps. In some years, there are only a few plants in flower, but in other years (like 2018), there can be as many as 150 or so in flower at the same time. Like all of our orchids, they cannot be transplanted, so please just admire them without touching or taking them.
Catesby’s Trillium (Trillium catesbaei) is common and is one of the last trilliums to bloom. Flowers can usually be seen from late March through June. The widely spaced leaves roll inward along the length of the stem. This unusual leaf morphology allows the flowers to be more readily observed. It likes drier habitats with acid soil and often grows within rhododendron or mountain laurel thickets.
The Crane-fly Orchid (Tipularia discolor) is the only species of the genus Tipularia found in North America. The plant is easy to identify in the field because of its distinctive leaves, which are dull to shiny green above (sometimes with raised purple spots) and purple below. The leaf emerges in autumn (September and October), over-winters, and then disappears in late spring to early summer. There are no leaves at the time the orchid blooms. The flowering stem is 15 to 20 inches tall. Moths pollinate the plant. One patch of them is along the roadside at the Guion Farm parking lot.