Monday, May 23, 2011

Sowing Lady's Slippers

  Not only does the pink lady's slipper dupe bees into performing a cross-pollination service, but the orchid also takes advantage of fungus and the wind for reproductive purposes.
In these orchid pictures,
 the lady slipper's seed pod is still standing as a reminder of last years efforts at sowing seeds.

 In order to sow the seeds, the seed capsule splits open with four long slits
through which thousands of dust-sized seeds are released to be borne on the wind to many new locations. Keep in mind, however, that the orchids are picky about sunlight and the soil conditions. On top of that, the orchid's seed carries no endosperm (food stores), so it must land where it can form a connection with a mycorrhizal fungus.  This symbiotic relationship with fungus will nourish the young orchid plant.
   Sure, the lady slipper's seed dispersal system seems to leave a lot chance, but the DNA in those dust-sized seeds contain all the necessary instructions to grow these extraordinary flowers with their amazing capabilities.
Pink lady's slipper orchids after the rain

That genetic code, my friend, will soon be blowin' in the wind.

1 comment:

  1. Dana, these grow in a park not that far from here and you can bet I'll be looking at them more closely this year when I see them. They're not visible yet as we've had a very chilly spring.