Cypripedium acaule Ait. is a common orchid growing in deciduous forests. Luke and I hiked Pack Monadnock on our anniversary and saw our first Lady’s Slipper Orchids in bloom. You can see that the pollinium (the pollen sac that attaches to bumblebee pollinators) is still in place.
Pink Lady’s Slipper Orchids attract their pollinators by deception. In other words, the pollinator gets nothing out of it’s visit to this plant – no nectary, no pollen….nothing. The color and scent of the flower lure the bumblebee into it’s pink pouch. The bee gets temporarily stuck in there, and the only paths out are two small openings. As the bee makes its way out through one of the openings, the bee passes the stigma of the flower depositing any pollen that it brought with it. Then it passes by the pollinium to grab some more pollen before it finally escapes. Hopefully, at least for the plant, the bumble bee will make the same mistake again, but with a different individual of the same species. This plant is in the family Orchidaceae.
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