The DOC May hike was a smashing success! We got to see a lot of Pink Lady Slippers that had not been present just the weekend before. It must have been all of the rain we had. The cross-country course behind the Susquenita High School was very well marked and maintained.
We did get to see a lot more than the Pink Lady Slippers. There were massive fields of mushrooms along the wood-chipped path. Then we hiked up a short hill to the reservoir where we saw the spillway and clear water. Not long after that we came upon the old grave yard with tombstones dating to the 1800’s. It was a very nice hike through a very nice area of woods and streams.
Prior to the hike we took a few moments to discuss the illusive flower, the Pink Lady Slipper also called the Moccasin Flower, Two Leaved Lady’s Slipper, and Stemless Lady’s Slipper. It is a rare and beautiful flower belonging to the orchid family. They take years to grow and are often picked by unknowledgeable individuals who are unaware that a special fungus is needed for the seed to germinate. The seed is without its own food source and needs a fungus, in the Rhizoctonia Genus, to break open the seed which then attaches itself to the fungus. The seed feeds off the fungus until the leaves are grown and the plant can produce its own food Although this seems a parasitic relationship, the Pink Lady Slipper returns the favor once the plant makes its own food. Then the fungus lives off of the Pink Lady Slipper. So coming full circle the relationship can be termed symbiotic,
In some states the flower is endangered and in others it is threatened. In PA the Showy Lady Slipper is threatened and the Pink Lady slipper is rare and unusual. The Pink Lady Slipper has two leaves coming up from the ground, a long stem and a pink flower at the end of the stem. The Showy Lady Slipper looks similar to the Pink, but has 3 white pedals on top of the slipper.
The Pink Lady Slipper can be found in pine forests, where it can be seen in large colonies, but it also grows in deciduous woods. It prefers acidic and well-drained soil. It can live up to 20 years and relies on bees for pollination,
If you find this flower please let it be. Then it will be present for future generations,
Note: A “thank you” to SeanO for the wonderful pictures.