Thursday, May 19, 2011

Topsy Turvey Slippers

If you prefer projects that are controllable and follow a predictable course, you probably wouldn’t enjoy managing populations of wild native plants. I took a rainy walk through the woods in search of additional Yellow Lady’s Slipper plants and found instead that my existing plant had made a rather unexpected transformation. My slippers have reoriented themselves into a sole up position.

The reclining stalk with the single bloom straightened itself into an upright position. This maneuver flipped the flower onto its back. It’s now looking quite unorchid like.

At the same time, the stalk with the double bloom has bent itself double just below the upper leaf. The twin flower bearing stalks are now directed towards the ground and the blooms are in an upside down position.

Will potential pollinators recognize the flowers in this unnatural orientation? I’ve always felt that the chances were slim of a pollinator carrying Yellow Lady’s Slipper pollen to this isolated plant. Now it seems that this event has reduced those chances even further.

It’s not hard to imagine the double bloomed stalk becoming damaged and allowing the flowers to fall. The stem doesn’t appear damaged though, just bent. It’s harder to understand the reason for the reclining stem suddenly straightening up. I would expect the stem to fully develop prior to the emergence of the flower. Fortunately, I enjoy mysteries and will add this to my collection. I can almost imagine this being the work of Woods Elves that rearranged the flowers and then hid laughing behind a tree stump when I came by and did a double take at the new look of my orchid plant.

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