Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Moccasin Flower

Walked around on an old farm near the edge of the Big Woods to look for the pink lady’s-slippers (also called moccasin flower) that I’d seen there in past years. Although several of the old fields are still mowed for hay, most of the formerly cleared areas have now grown back to forest. In only 15 minutes of walking I saw well over 100 plants in bloom and several hundred more too young to flower – they don’t bloom until they’re several years old.

Pink lady’s-slippers are the most widespread and common lady’s-slipper in this area, growing on acidic soils, typically in oak or hemlock forests – but also in conifer plantations.

Although there were a lot of pink lady’s-slippers in this old field now reverted to forest, with often more than ten flowers in view at any one time, it was not the grandest assemblage of pink lady’s-slippers I’ve ever seen. That honor belongs to another place and another time – a red pine plantation on a worn-out agricultural field in what is now a small State Game Land. There were thousands of flowering plants in just a few acres as can be seen in my photo from the 1970s.

That display of lady’s-slippers could be enjoyed each spring for several years, but in the intervening decades conditions have changed and but a few scattered plants can be found there now.


Camera Trap Codger said...

Wow, nice one. Don't remember seeing those in northern VA, but they must be there. Tos the season to be botanizing.

Woody Meristem said...

They really need acidic soils, and I've never seen them on sandy soils -- so, they may not grow on the coastal plain or the Piedmont.