Pink Lady's Slipper
Pink lady's slipper, also known as the moccasin flower, is a showy native orchid
locally common in pine barrens. This is a state-protected species in a few states. The epithet acaule means “stemless.”
While other lady's slippers have leafy stems, pink lady's slipper does not have a stem, but only a flower stalk with
two large leaves at the base. At the tip of the stalk, there is a single large magenta to white-pink flower.
The plant grows in well-drained acidic soils below pH 5, often at 4-4.5, and prefers at least partial shade.
Many forest plants commonly form friendly unions (mycorrhizae
with fungi, exchanging chemical substances to mutual benefit:
the fungus delivers nutrition to the plant, while having access to sugars made by the plant.
As an orchid, pink lady's slipper is one of those mycorrhizae-dependent plants.
especially critical for an orchid at the time of germination, as orchid seeds
are minuscule and don't contain any stored energy. It may take a lady's slipper 20+ years
to grow and develop from seed to a mature plant. Once established, plants live for many years if left undisturbed.
Pink lady's slipper has a less than 5% transplant success rate and is thus considered off limits to pickers and diggers.
Developing fruit. August 20