Calypso aka Fairy Slipper (Calypso bulbosa)
This diminutive gem is often overlooked, but was the inspiration for John Muir’s first published essay, describing the joy of finding the sought-after prize in the Canadian woods, likely around 1864. He found the less common (at least in the West) white variant of this orchid, as in the photo below.
“The rarest and most beautiful of the flowering plants I discovered on this first grand excursion was Calypso borealis (the Hider of the North)…But when the sun was getting low and everything seemed most bewildering and discouraging, I found beautiful Calypso on the mossy bank of a stream, growing not in the ground but on a bed of yellow mosses in which its small white bulb had found a soft nest and from which its one leaf and one flower sprung. The flower was white and made the impression of the utmost simple purity like a snowflower… It seemed the most spiritual of all the flower people I had ever met. I sat down beside it and fairly cried for joy…How long I sat beside Calypso I don’t know. Hunger and weariness vanished, and only after the sun was low in the west I splashed on through the swamp, strong and exhilarated as if never more to feel any mortal care.” — The Calypso Borealis by John Muir (from The Life and Letters of John Muir)