Andrew Lane Gibson - @the_buckeye_botanist's profile photo/

Andrew Lane Gibson

@the_buckeye_botanist

Photos & videos by @the_buckeye_botanist


  • Keeping on with my #TributeToWildOrchids is a taxon that is sure to impress in the crested coralroot (Hexalectris spicata). It looks like something better found in a tropical botanical gardens but is right at home in the upland mixed oak woodlands and cedar barren margins of extreme southern Ohio. Each flower is about the size of a quarter with an appearance of molded clay. The colorful explosion of magenta on its lip is most exceptional. This species lacks chlorophyll and thus doesn't photosynthesize, instead gaining all nutrients through its symbiotic relationship with subterranean mycorrhizal fungi. Each plant only surfaces perhaps once or twice a decade to flower and set seed; I've checked the exact same spot for plants first seen in July 2008 each summer since and those plants have yet to break their dormancy. Patience. #nature #nature Gram #nature Photography #nature Lovers #instaorchids #instanature #instaflower #instabotany #PlantsOfInstagram #ignature #plantid #botany #botanizing #wildflower #orchid #orchid aceae #hexalectris #CrestedCoralroot #coralroot #nativeflora #oakwoods #ecology #Ohio #ohiobotany #ohionature #ohioorchids #exploreohio #TheBuckeyeBotanist #algibson

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  • Tiny. Green. Inconspicuous. That about sums up the rare green adders mouth orchid (Malaxis unifolia). It has the distinction of having the smallest individual flowers of any Ohio orchid and even when dozens of them are in full bloom it's a very easy plant to overlook. It grows in a variety of nutrient-poor acidic habitats, from upland oak-pine woodlands to sphagnum mats near/along seeps and ponds. It definitely is one of those plants that's hard to really get a grasp on just how rare, or common it truly is. It's certainly a master of disguise, although It seems to like me as I've found a half dozen or so new sites for it the last few years and relocated several more. It's similar to mushroom hunting in that once you get the taste and eye for it, they don't blend in as well. It may be easily overlooked but it's a personal favorite of mine! #TributeToWildOrchids #nature #nature Photography #nature Lovers #nature Gram #PlantsOfInstagram #plantid #instanature #instaorchid #instabotany #instaflower #wildflower #botany #summer #orchid #wildorchid #orchid aceae #malaxis #green #oakwoods #acidic #Ohio #ohiobotany #ohionature #OhioWildflowers #ohioorchids #TheBuckeyeBotanist #algibson

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  • Of Ohio's 47 indigenous species of orchid, I don't think any are as astonishing upon first sight as the purple fringeless orchid (Platanthera peramoena). It's really more pink than purple to my eye but regardless is as vibrant and saturated a color as there is in the plant kingdom. They occur in a variety of open-shaded wet habitats such as moist meadows and prairies, wet flatwoods, swamps and streambanks. A mucky power line cut along a stream just fifteen minutes from my residence in SE Ohio has these by the dozens and is a frequent stop for me come July. Their bubblegum pink color explodes off the surrounding emerald vegetation unlike anything else around... #TributeToWildOrchids #nature #nature Gram #nature Photography #nature Lovers #PlantsOfInstagram #orchid sOfInstagram #ignature #plantporn #instabotany #instaflower #instanature #instaorchid #botany #wildflowers #orchid #orchid aceae #platanthera #purple #wetland #summer #ecology #Ohio #ohiobotany #ohionature #ohioorchids #algibson #TheBuckeyeBotanist

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  • An exceptionally rare orchid in an exceptionally rare habitat. That's the life of the dragon's mouth orchid (Arethusa bulbosa), at least here in Ohio. This regal looking wildflower is only known to occur at a single site in the northeastern part of the state where it resides on the mossy hummocks of a sphagnum bog. Only a dozen or so plants come up in a given year at best, too. While many orchids can be long-lived individuals, the dragon's mouth only survives for a handful of years and relies on seed production and their successful germination far more than other species. This makes collecting, picking, late hard frosts/freezes etc. all the more damning for such a rarity. They're more common further to the north where their boggy habitats are also more common, thankfully. I love its common name as I think it aptly matches its beast-like appearance, maw wide open to swallow its prey! Definitely one of my favorite favorite orchids. #TributeToWildOrchids #nature #nature Lovers #nature Gram #nature Photography #ignature #instanature #PlantsOfInstagram #orchid sOfInstagram #instaorchid #botany #wildflower #orchid #orchid aceae #arethusa #Bog #peatland #acidic #wetland #ecology #sphagnum #biodiversity #plantporn #Ohio #ohiobotany #ohionature #algibson #TheBuckeyeBotanist

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  • Few wildflowers are more flamboyant or in-your-face with their colorful appearance than the orange fringed orchid (Platanthera ciliaris). Their beauty only intensifies the more closely you admire their delicate architecture and form. Its epithet of 'ciliaris' translates to 'eyelash' in reference to each flower's specialized fringed labellum (see: lip). They are especially fond of acidic, sandy substrates in a more open, moist-wet habitat such as wet meadows, seepage areas, swales/depressions in savannas, dunes, pastures etc. Unfortunately these types of habitats in undisturbed, high-quality situations are few and far between in Ohio, and as such the orange fringed orchid is listed as a threatened species. Rare or not, it's a spectacular species and one every orchid lover should see at least one! #TributeToWildOrchids #nature #nature Gram #nature Photography #nature Lovers #instabotany #instaflower #instanature #instaorchids #botany #ignature #PlantsOfInstagram #wildflowers #orchid #orchid aceae #platanthera #fringedorchid #ecology #acidic #rarespecies #Ohio #ohiobotany #ohionature #ohioorchids #TheBuckeyeBotanist #algibson

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  • Over the years I've had my fair share of failures and close misses when hunting my beloved orchids. This evolved into my mantra becoming "there's always next year". But that just makes the times I do get lucky all the more memorable and special. Like a couple summers ago while out in Colorado for a week of camping and exploring the mountains with my wife. I had the loftiest of pipe dreams of stumbling across some clustered lady's slippers (Cypripedium fasciculatum) but had no real ideas or hints on where to look. I only knew they liked to grow in cool, shaded fir/spruce forests around 9,000-11,000' and figured my chances were slim-to-none. But the botany gods were kind! I literally shouted with joy and had to sit down upon spotting some while hiking to an alpine lake in RMNP. I've seen all of eastern North America's lady's slipper orchids and had dreamed of getting acquainted with the West's for years. Even now I can hardly believe I found some, let alone in perfect flower! Ahhh... #TributeToWildOrchids #nature #nature Gram #nature Lovers #nature Photography #PlantsOfInstagram #ignature #orchid sOfInstagram #plantid #instanature #instaorchid #instabotany #instaplant #orchid #orchid aceae #cypripedium #ladysslipper #wildflower #botany #discovery #subalpine #mountains #coloradobotany #coloradonature #RMNP #TheBuckeyeBotanist #algibson

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  • I'll cap off a productive day of my #TributeToWildOrchids with a species that almost glows in the dark of its forested and cool, boggy, swampy haunts. Early coralroot (Corallorhiza trifida) is aptly named for its spring appearance and is often the first orchid to peak its head above the thawed soil. It has a circumpolar distribution throughout the northern hemisphere and in North America is restricted to higher latitudes or high elevation in the southern Rockies. I've only had the chance to see them in the flesh a few times, most recently on Ontario's Bruce peninsula, where one would be hard pressed to *not* see some! Like other members of the genus Corallorhiza, this species is a myco-heterotroph that gains nutrients from a symbiotic relationship with subterranean mycorrhizal fungi. Thus, it lacks chlorophyll and the ability to photosynthesize. #nature #nature Photography #nature Lovers #naturalohio #nature Gram #instanature #instaorchid #instabotany #PlantsOfInstagram #instaflower #botany #wildflower #orchid #wildorchid #orchid aceae #coralroot #corallorhiza #spring #ecology #rarespecies #Ohio #ohioorchids #ohiobotany #ohionature #OhioWildflowers #ohiospring #TheBuckeyeBotanist #algibson

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  • I can't think of a better way to combat a dreary winter day than continue my #TributeToWildOrchids with an explosion of color courtesy the small purple fringed orchid (Platanthera psycodes). Its majestic purple appearance graces select swamp woods, wet thickets, and shrubby fen/bog margins come summer and is impossible to ignore if you're lucky enough to come across some. I personally love the little bearded faces their individual flowers imitate, the pollinia a perfect pair of eyes. Unfortunately, this orchid is a threatened species [S2] in Ohio and one I've seen precious few times in my home state. But the times I have seen it I'll never forget. There's few things like that sprig of purple against such a rich emerald background. #nature #nature Photography #nature Lovers #naturalohio #nature Gram #instabotany #instanature #instaflower #instaorchid #wildflower #botany #orchid #wildorchid #orchid aceae #PurpleFringedOrchid #platanthera #ecology #swamp #ignature #PlantsOfInstagram #plantid #Ohio #ohionature #ohiobotany #ohioorchids #OhioWildflowers #ohiospring #TheBuckeyeBotanist #algibson

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  • One of late summer's best surprises is the curious and ephemeral three birds orchid (Triphora trianthophora). It spends most of the growing season as an essentially impossible to detect mycoheterotroph in the rich hummus of mature beech-maple woodlands before "sprouting" and sending up its tiny, slender stalk adorned with three buds per plant in late July/early August. This process is believed to be initiated by a combination of waning daylight and drop in nighttime temperatures. The buds mature quickly and only open for a few hours in the morning and early afternoon before wilting; making it a very hard orchid to time perfectly. Every plant in a population and surrounding area flowers together to ensure the best chances of cross-pollination and is an incredible sight in large numbers. Its flowers are the purest crystalline white with a gorgeous green throat and purple pollinia. The Triphora genus has about half a dozen taxa in North America, however, all but T. trianthophora (wide-ranging around the eastern US) is restricted to southern Florida. #TributeToWildOrchids #nature #nature Gram #nature Lovers #nature Photography #PlantsOfInstagram PlantPorn #ignature #orchid sOfInstagram #instaflower #instanature #botany #wildorchid #wildflower #orchid #orchid aceae #triphora #threebirds #emphemeral #woodland #nativeflora #ecology #Ohio #ohiobotany #ohionature #ohioorchids #TheBuckeyeBotanist #algibson

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  • I can still recall seeing pictures of pink lady's slippers (Cypripedium acaule) in nature books when I was growing up and thinking they looked out of this world. I still think that to this day despite having spent hours and hours among them in the field photographing them in every way imaginable. They're unique among lady's slippers with their leafless scape and vertically creased pouch but still instantly recognizable as one of their kin. Finding large colonies of hundreds of blooming plants in their upland oak woodlands or dry acidic pine stand homes is a sight I don't think even the most reserved of wildflower admirers could ever forget. I still laugh at the memory of my wife Kara's first encounter with this orchid and saying she thought it the perfect thing for Georgia O'Keeffe to paint. Spot on assessment if you ask me! The question that remains is do you see the male or female anatomy more haha? TributeToWildOrchids #nature #nature Photography #nature Lovers #naturalohio #nature Gram #instabotany #instanature #instaflower #instaorchid #wildflower #botany #orchid #wildorchid #orchid #orchid aceae #ladysslipper #cypripedium #ecology #ignature #PlantsOfInstagram #plantid #Ohio #ohionature #ohiobotany #ohioorchids #OhioWildflowers #ohiospring #TheBuckeyeBotanist #algibson

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  • It's rare that orchids are more renowned and sought after for their leaves than flowers. But that's the case for me and the rattlesnake plantains (Goodyera spp.). I'm personally a huge fan of their evergreen, succulent-like leaves that are detailed with stunning venation patterns. Four species from this largely Asiatic genus can be found in North America, and all can be identified using their aforementioned uniquely decorated fleshy basal leaves. They occur in dry-mesic forests and all can be seen in the Great Lakes region, almost always in association with conifers. This series of photos shows off all four of the continent's species' basal leaves. First off is downy rattlesnake plantain (G. pubescens), then checkered rattlesnake plantain (G. tesellata), dwarf rattlesnake plantain (G. repens), and western rattlesnake plantain (G. oblongifolia). The last photo shows three of the four species raceme of flowers: checkered, dwarf, and downy. #TributeToWildOrchids #nature #nature Gram #nature Lovers #nature Photography #ignature #plantporn #PlantsOfInstagram #instaorchid #instaflower #instanature #botany #wildflower #orchid aceae #orchid #goodyera #RattlesnakePlantain #evergreen #texture #greatlakes #ConiferousForest #ecology #Ohio #ohiobotany #ohionature #ohioorchids #exploreohio #TheBuckeyeBotanist #algibson

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  • Few orchids mesmerize me more than the regal Kentucky lady's slipper (Cypripedium kentuckiense). It has the largest labellum (slipper) of any of the continent's lady's slippers and comes in a very soft but unique pale cream-yellow coloration. This species was long recognized as a mere variety of the large yellow (C. pubescens) before achieving species status a few decades ago, which is befuddling as it's clear as day to me it was deserving of its own name from the get go. It blooms/peaks a couple weeks after the large yellows have faded away and enjoys an interesting habitat of mesic forests on stream flood plains that are regularly inundated and scoured. This orchid has evolved to rely on these harsh water events to keep its habitat somewhat open and also aid in vegetative propagation by carrying parts of its rhizome downstream and depositing it in alluvial soils to grow into a new plant/clump. It's fascinating to find this orchid in patches along a waterway but almost always restricted to at/below the high water levels, as seen in this photograph along a stream in northern Kentucky. Additionally, it's a globally rare species that occurs in two distinct regions: the Appalachian plateaus of KY and TN; as well as the coastal plain, interior plateaus and highlands of the southeastern/south-central US. #TributeToWildOrchids #nature #nature Gram #nature Lovers #nature Photography #instabotany #instaflower #instanature #orchid #orchid aceae #wildflower #botany #botanizing #cypripedium #ladysslipper #kentucky LadysSlipper #globallyrare #FloodplainForest #ecology #kentucky nature #wildkentucky #kentucky #PlantsOfInstagram #ignature #orchid sOfInstagram #algibson #TheBuckeyeBotanist

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  • I can't begin to fathom the countless miles, money and hours I've spent traversing eastern North America chasing down a new life orchid/plant. Every bit has been worth it, though. Especially the long trips like one a handful of summers ago to see the northern white fringed orchid (Platanthera blephariglottis) for the first time. I travelled to upstate New York's Adirondacks to see it in an immense black spruce/tamarack bog teaming with phenomenal peatland flora. Dozens of stalks of their crystalline white perfection danced in the warm summer breeze. The mass of perfectly ripened blueberries and huckleberries made the experience as memorable for my tastebuds as it was for my eyes! It's only known from a single site in Ohio today but unfortunately hasn't shown itself in quite some time, necessitating the out-of-state road trip. I've since seen it a few more times but it still requires quite the journey to see... #TributeToWildOrchids #nature #nature Gram #nature Photography #nature Lovers #instabotany #instaflower #instanature #wildflowers #botany #ignature #PlantsOfInstagram #orchid #orchid aceae #platanthera #fringedorchid #WhiteFringedOrchid #Bog #sphagnum #acidic #ecology #wetland #adirondacks #newyorkbotany #newyorknature #upstatenewyork #lakegeorge #northernflora #TheBuckeyeBotanist #algibson

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  • For as frequently as I come across large whorled pogonia (Isotria verticillata), you wouldn't think seeing one in bloom would be as big a deal as it is. It's notoriously fickle and especially frustrating when you consider it's often found growing in large colonies of dozens, even hundreds of plants with 99-100% of them being purely vegetative in any given year. Even when it does flower the blooms last in peak shape for only a handful of days and immediately begin to wilt after losing its pollinia. When you do get to see a large whorled pogonia in fine shape you're met with an intimidating looking flower with the appearance of some mythical beast who's jaws are open and ready to swallow its next victim whole. They occur in acidic, well-drained upland forest communities here in Ohio, but additionally can occupy sphagnum bog mat margins further north. I've visited a bog in SE Michigan where dragon's mouth orchids, pink lady's slippers, and large whorled pogonias grow more or less side-by-side! I've noticed in my numerous experiences with this orchid that the smaller the population, the more regularly its few individuals flower year to year, while large populations with numerous plants rarely put forth bloomers with any consistency. #TributeToWildOrchids #nature #nature Gram #nature Photography #nature Lovers #ignature #PlantsOfInstagram #orchid sOfInstagram #plantporn #instaflower #instanature #wildflower #botany #botanizing #orchid #orchid aceae #isotria #pogonia #acidic #oakwoods #Bog #diversity #ecology #Ohio #ohiobotany #ohionature #ohioorchids #exploreohio #TheBuckeyeBotanist #algibson

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  • Kicking off today's edition of my #TributeToWildOrchids is one of my favorite examples of a temperate orchid doing its best tropical impression. The rosebud orchid (Cleistesiopsis bifaria), also known as lesser spreading pogonia is indigenous to the south-central Appalachians where it grows in open, xeric and acidic habitats such as meadows, savannas and oak/pine woods. I came across some a handful of years ago on a long, exhausting hike deep in the southern Kentucky wilderness. It certainly felt like the tropics that day with temps in the 90's and high humidity but seeing this orchid in full, spectacular flower was the perfect refreshment. I hope to make it down to the Atlantic coastal plain one of these days to see its close relative, the larger spreading pogonia (C. divaricata). They are just out of this world examples of orchid architecture! #nature #nature Gram #nature Photography #nature Lovers #plantporn #plantid #ignature #instaorchid #PlantsOfInstagram #instaflower #instanature #wildflower #orchid #orchid aceae #cleistes iopsis #cleistes #rosebud #pogonia #ecology #acidic #SouthernAppalachians #kentucky #kentucky nature #ExploreKentucky #TheBuckeyeBotanist #algibson

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  • I've photographed the large yellow lady's slipper (Cypripedium pubescens) multiple times a year in numerous locations for nearly a decade now...and yet I still never tire of them. I have many cherished photos of this orchid but this one here is extra special. In extreme southern Ohio is a calcareous upland woods that is home to some ancient and impressive specimens of the rare white cedar (Thuja occidentalis), as seen on the right and in the background. That's neat enough but at one special spot a dozen or so yellow ladies grace the herb layer. I can think of no other spot in the entire state that has this specific situation. Hardly uncommon to see further north but here in Ohio it's a doozy. The tall, impressive dolomite cliffs upslope make for another added and unique detail, too. #TributeToWildOrchids #nature #nature Gram #nature Lovers #nature Photography #ignature #instanature #instaplant #PlantsOfInstagram #instaorchid #plantid #plantporn #wildflower #orchid #orchid aceae #ladysslipper #cypripedium #ecology #rareplant #biodiversity #thuja #woodland #botany #Ohio #ohioorchids #ohionature #OhioWildflowers #algibson #TheBuckeyeBotanist

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  • I've shared it before and you can bet I'll share it again but no #TributeToWildOrchids would be even close to complete without featuring my favorite wild orchid of all. The eastern prairie fringed orchid (Platanthera leucophaea) once occurred all throughout the Midwest and Great Lakes in the region's plethora of wet prairie, fen meadow, and freshwater marshes in numbers unbelievable in today's world. Habitat loss and degradation has this incredible plant threatened with extinction and currently listed as a federally threatened species. Ohio is home to a handful of locations where its large, creamy flowers grace the landscape every late June. No matter where I am or what I'm doing, I always make time for this incredible plant each and every summer. I could live to be 100 and I'll die saying I spent far too little time in its presence... #nature #nature Gram #nature Lovers #nature Photography #plantporn #PlantsOfInstagram #instaorchid #instaflower #instanature #botany #botanizing #wildflower #orchid aceae #orchid #prairie FringedOrchid #platanthera #rarespecies #prairie #Fen #wetland #greatlakes #ecology #Ohio #ohiobotany #ohionature #ohioorchids #exploreohio #TheBuckeyeBotanist #algibson

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  • Let's head up to the orchid paradise of Ontario's Bruce peninsula as today's #TributeToWildOrchids wraps up. The ram's head lady's slippers (Cypripedium arietinum) are undoubtedly one of my absolute favorites. The Bruce is one of their last strongholds and where they can still be locally common. They love to occur in the dry, sandy coniferous forests of jack pine, white cedar and white spruce even just a hundred yards from the cobble shorelines of Lake Huron. They are unbelievably tiny, with their labellums (pouch) about the size of your thumbnail, I kid you not. They're a species that's receding from the landscape as climate change and its pressures diminish these fickle orchids of the north. #nature #nature Photography #nature Gram #nature LoversIGNature #instaorchid #instanature #botany #botanizing #brucepeninsula #brucepeninsula NationalPark #greatlakes #lakehuron #PlantsOfInstagram #ConiferousWoods #wildflower #wildorchid #orchids #orchidaceae #ramshead #ladysslipper #cypripedium #singingsands #dorcasbay #ontario #ontario Nature #canada #ecology #TheBuckeyeBotanist #algibson

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  • Today's #TributeToWildOrchids continues with an explosion of color in the crested orange orchid (Platanthera cristata). It's a species of the Southeast's Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains, from eastern TX to the Pine Barrens of NJ. It occurs in a variety of mostly open, mesic-wet, acidic habitats such as bogs, wet meadows, flat woods etc. I've only seen this taxon once in its most interior locations on the Cumberland plateau of southern KY. It can be confused with and occur alongside the orange fringed orchid (P. ciliaris) but is a noticeably smaller plant in all aspects, has a distinct 'hood' covering the pollinia, and a much less fringed and fimbriated lip margin. It's going on a decade since I saw this orchid and my few returns since found the site bearing none above ground. One of these days... #nature #nature Gram #nature Photography #nature Lovers #ignature #plantporn #PlantsOfInstagram #orchid sOfInstagram #instaflower #instanature #instaorchid #botany #botanizing #wildflower #orchid #orchid aceae #platanthera #orange #crested #Bog #acidic #ecology #kentucky #kentucky nature #kentucky botany #ExploreKentucky #CumberlandPlateau #TheBuckeyeBotanist #algibson

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  • Many people think of orchids as organisms needing pristine, mature, undisturbed habitat to survive and thrive. That's certainly not wrong for many species but some actually require regular disturbance events to maintain the type of habitat required. Take the shining ladies'-tresses (Spiranthes lucida) for example. This orchid does best in early successional, open-soiled habitats such as mucky openings, sandy shorelines, and stream banks. It cannot compete well at all with other vegetation and quickly disappears once recolonization of other plants occurs. An awesome example is a site along northern Lake Huron where a landowner dumped a bunch of sterile sand along the rocky shoreline. Within a year or so literally hundreds of shining ladies'-tresses occupied the sandy deposit but disappeared only a few years later as sedges, grasses, and other early colonizers displaced it. Talk about a narrow window of opportunity! It's an easy Spiranthes to ID by its early bloom time (late May-early June) and bright yellow throat. #TributeToWildOrchids #nature #nature Gram #nature Lovers #nature Photography #ignature #PlantsOfInstagram #instaplant #instaflower #instaorchid #instanature #wildflower #botany #orchid #orchid aceae #spiranthes #ladiestresses #ecology #wetland #biodiversity #Ohio #ohionature #ohioorchids #OhioWildflowers #TheBuckeyeBotanist #algibson

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