Monday, May 21, 2012

The Lone Slipper

This Yellow Lady’s Slipper continues to be an annual source of joy and frustration.  The joy comes from greeting the plant each spring and reacquainting myself with the lovely bloom.  Frustration soon follows as I futilely attempt to locate a second plant of this species somewhere on the property.  At the end of the season it’s always just one plant.  It may develop multiple stalks, but it’s still the same plant.

The bloom lasts for weeks if not eaten or damaged. I suspect this persistence is due to lack of pollination.  A pollinated flower would wilt as the plant put its energy into seed production.  The virgin bloom just sits and waits.  This allows for long term enjoyment of the flower, but gives no chance for the development of new plants.

Bumblebees are said to be a common pollinator of Lady’s Slippers, but the chances of a Bumblebee visiting this single flower seem very low.  There’s nothing else in the vicinity of this plant that appears at all attractive to Bumblebees.  If a Bumblebee did enter this flower, it would have to be already carrying Lady’s Slipper pollen for the visit to be productive.  The odds against pollination are just too great to overcome.

Yellow Lady’s Slippers may appear quite showy at close range.  From a distance, the blooming plant blends right into its surroundings.  My search for other plants has been pretty thorough.  I’ve worked a tight grid pattern over all of the likely areas of Blue Jay Barrens and have found no other orchids. 

I wonder if this plant is a remnant of a larger population or if it is a lone colonizer.  I’ll probably never answer that question.  All I have is the hope that comes with knowing that if there’s one, there can be more.

At least that single bloom allows me to enjoy one of my favorite flower faces.  This always reminds me of a Jim Henson creation.  It might well be called the Muppet flower.


  1. Very nice. Yes, It could be a Muppet flower. Miss Piggy would be jealous of how pretty it is. ;)

  2. Hi Steve ....I am so jealous...I am watching mine closely since the deer ate my last years buds!
    Three stocks are up,but doesn't look yet like they will blossom : { !!! Maybe we need to meet half way if mine does...we could have a pollination party hahaha!!!!

  3. All the more beautiful for its uniqueness.

  4. Aren't you just a little tempted to find someone with a yellow lady slipper and do a little matchmaking with a soft paint brush?

  5. Hi Lois. My first impression is of the old men in the balcony, but I also see a resemblance to Rygel XVI from Farscape.

    Hi Grace. My plant used to suffer from the deer until I placed a couple of fallen trees to divert the deer around. My plant isn't sure it wants to risk a blind date or a long distance relationship.

    Hi Pat. With one plant, there's certainly not anything to distract you from the beauty of the flower.

    Hi Becky. My management plan prohibits intentional introduction of seeds, plants or other related material from sources outside the property. Pollination by way of a wandering insect is beyond management control, so is allowed. If another flowering Lady's Slipper is found on the property, then I'll certainly hit the field with my pollination brush.