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This is a Golden Orchid, a beautiful orchid that grows on the forest floors all over Japan.
Called kinran キンラン in Japanese, they emerge from the ground in spring to get a head start on the other forest floor plants that will and grow high and block out all the light when the weather warms up.
Golden Orchid (cephalanthera falcata)
Like all orchids here they are becoming rarer every year because of wild flower collectors (I call them poachers) who want to own every orchid they see and so dig them out of the ground to take home and plant in their own gardens. Also like many Japanese orchids, golden orchids depend on certain bacteria in the ground to grow well and so planting them at home is usually pointless, they just die. This makes the poachers just want them more, and so it becomes a downward spiral for the poor orchids.
They are still common enough if you know where to search though, and so last weekend I went and looked for them in a few spots where I have seen them before.
It is pretty hard to see anything in a Japanese forest at this time of year because the blinding greens and yellows send human eyes into overload.
There are two golden orchids in this photo.
But if you walk slowly and keep your eyes peeled on the ground, you might be lucky enough to find one. The leaves usually give them way before the flowers. They look like dark green ribbons ribbons poking out of the ground. They like forest floor that is sunny in winter, but shady in summer, so they usually grow underneath large oak trees which provide the prefect environment for them all year.
Tread carefully though,
because if you have found one golden orchid, then there are probably more close by.
Golden Orchid (cephalanthera longibrateata)
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