Monday, August 26, 2013

Fairy Slipper

Perhaps the ice in the photo of a Fairy Slipper orchid that attracts me on this blazing hot August afternoon. As I write, temperatures are at a near record-breaking 93 degrees with high humidity. I took this photo on a chilly May day four years ago near Missoula, Montana. This orchid is also called Calypso, for its genus.

Fairy Slippers are found across the northern hemisphere, from North America, across Scandinavia, Russia, eastern Siberia and Japan. In the United States, they grow in the Rocky Mountains into the southwest. Despite this wide range, Fairy Slippers are often classified as endangered plants. They are intolerant of disturbance and are short-lived. They do not transplant well as the require specific soil fungi to flourish (Wikipedia).

The pollination of these ochids depend on specific bumblebees. The bees are fooled by the flowers, which attract the bees, but produce no nectar. The bees learn this trick and do not visit the same flowers twice, to the genetic benefit of the orchids. This deception may be the origin of this orchid’s genus, Calypso, from the Greek, meaning to hide or deceive; or the name may refer to Calypso, the daughter of gods, who kidnaped Odysseus for seven years, hoping to keep him as her immortal husband

If the present decline of bees noted across the world continues, Fairy Slippers are yet another plant in peril.

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