I played a real tourist today and took a cruise from Savonlinna to Punkaharju and back. I got a good look at the Saimaa lake system and islands (no less than 40000 of them, including the small islets) and a short hike on the nature trail in Punkaharju. I can now proudly say that I’ve seen the tallest tree in Finland. It grows in the middle of the forest so it’s hard to appreciate the height when you’re standing right next to it, peering up and trying to see the tree crown. I’ll just have to take their word for it. I wasn’t expecting to see many orchids here in Finland – the occasional heath spotted orchid but nothing more, really. I was astonished to discover lesser butterfly orchids right behind the summer house, all withered but I’m positive about the ID. Then today during the hike past the tall trees, I saw a creeping lady’s-tresses orchid. And when I was already on the way to the harbour to catch the ship back to Savonlinna… a new orchid, I was stunned! I couldn’t ID it on the spot, so back at the cabin, I hurried to check the book… Broad-leaved helleborine (Epipactis helleborine) and it also happens to be a fairly rare orchid. Amazing! Too bad I was in a hurry, I just took a few quick shots for the ID and had a brief look around for more individuals, but this was the only one I could see. Right there beside the road… I’m not kidding, it wasn’t fully half a meter from the curb. Yikes. I’m going back tomorrow to look for more of them!

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