June 12, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:  

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Visited the great orchis which I am waiting to have open completely. It is emphatically a flower (within gunshot of the hawk’s nest); its great spike six inches by two, of delicate pale purple flowers which begin to expand at bottom, rises above and contrasts with the green leaves of the hellebore, skunk-cabbage, and ferns (by which its own leaves are concealed, in the cool shade of an alder swamp.

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It is the more interesting for its variety and the secluded situations in which it grows, owing to which it is seldom seen, not thrusting itself upon the observation of men. It is a pale purple, as if from growing in the shade. It is not remarkable in its stalk and leaves, which, indeed, are commonly concealed by other plants.

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