Observation of the Week, 6/23/17



This Bird’s Nest orchid, seen in Lithuania by @almantas, is our Observation of the Week! 

Almantas Kulbis is a professional nature educator at the Lithuanian Centre of Non-formal Youth Education, and he just plain loves doing it. “For me my work is leisure too,” he says. “The main object of my nature observations is usually plants. I like to explore flora when I'm traveling or just walking in surroundings. Although I'm not a professional natural photographer, I do share my discoveries to people in articles, TV shows or books. I have always stressed that the grandeur of nature is composed of a lot of small details.”

Details, for instance, like the many flowers on the Bird’s Nest orchid that he photographed. “Bird's nest orchid is quite a rare plant in Lithuania,” says Almantas. “In June I wandered near the forest where I was knew this plant grew. I had observed this orchid there about 15 years ago. It was amazing to see almost a hundred of flowering Bird's Nest orchids again! Despite the very active biting mosquitoes, I made a series of photos of these orchids that I happily shared with other people.”

The Bird’s Nest orchid is a pretty amazing plant. Lacking chlorophyll, it is unable to photosynthesize and make its own energy; it instead relies on the mycelium of the Rhizoctonia neottiae fungus, which breaks down the soil into nutrients that the plant can absorb through its tangle of its eponymous nest-like roots. After nine years (!), the orchid finally shoots up a leafless stalk of brownish flowers in the summer. It is not known for certain whether the fungus benefits from this relationship with the orchid. Bird’s Nest orchids range from Europe through North Africa and east to Turkey and Iran.

Almantas discovered iNaturalist after reading Scott Sampson’s How to Raise a Child in the Wild, which was released in Lithuanian last year. “The book teaches us that the current generation of young people get most of their knowledge about the world through displays of electronic gadgets,” he explains. “So I started to use iNaturalist application and promote it in seminars for teachers or radio shows. I’m happy that the iNaturalist community in Lithuania is growing very rapidly and for now is one of the largest in the surrounding countries.” 

- by Tony Iwane

(Note that while Almantas writes excellent English, I did fix a few errors here and there.)


- Almantas’s work has been featured on the TV show Hello Lithuania many times! http://www.lrt.lt/paieska/#/content/Almantas%20kulbis

- Some soothing footage of Bird’s Nest orchids in Italy. Ahhh.

- Probably the best movie monologue about orchids ever (from Adaptation): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WCx6GjD8d4

Posted by tiwane tiwane, June 24, 2017 06:01 AM

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