Calypso bulbosa is arguably the most stunning of all Europe's orchids. Known more widely as the Fairy Slipper or Calypso Orchid, the flowering plant is a perfect design of nature. Exhibiting one or two rounded green leaves at the base a deep red stem that reaches heights of around 15cm, its appearance is one of uncluttered simplicity. This ensures that the plant's crowning glory, its sole pinkish-purple flower, enjoys undivided attention.
It's impossible not to admire this species in full fettle. It is a genuine work of art - delicate, intricate and exotic, the amazing flower of Calypso bulbosa looks like it belongs in the tropics rather than the taiga - yet it thrives in Finland's boreal forests.
At 66 degrees north, among the decaying pine needles that litter the forest floor of Oulanka National Park, excellent numbers of flowering Calypso Orchids can be found in late May and June. We were fortunate to find several tens of this spectacular species about a kilometre east of the visitor centre, some right by the main path - many thanks to the help and expertise of Sean Cole, who was back home in the UK at the time.. Here are a few photos.