Lindsay is responsible for organizing today’s entry. Lindsay writes:
Thank you to Kathleen Garness for submitting today’s photograph and write-up to help continue the Botany Photo of the Day series on biodiversity success stories. Kathleen is part of Chicago Botanic Garden‘s Plants of Concern program, and Cypripedium candidum is one of the species she monitors. Kathleen writes:
Commonly known as white lady’s slipper, Cypripedium candidum is a species of mesic calcareous prairies and fens, preferring a soil pH of 7.2 to 7.8. In the US Midwest, bloom time ranges from early May to mid-June. Most remaining populations (with a few notable exceptions) are very small, and it is a rare sight to visit a rich prairie in May and marvel at the sight of hundreds of these tiny orchids with their dazzling white pouches like little elven shoes dancing in the sunlight. The plants range in size from 10cm to 42cm in height. The greenish-yellow, tan-striped sepals range from 15mm to 46mm in length, with a white lip, from 17mm to 35mm in length, occasionally veined in purple and/or spotted on the interior rim with purple.
In Illinois (and other states as well), most of those prairies have long been plowed under, but a few remnant areas used for grazing, too wet to plow, or adjoining railroad right-of-ways, had survived development’s relentless spread. Since 1970, with the establishment of the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory, a few dozen populations in 21 counties have been documented and monitored in Illinois. It has also been recorded from Manitoba, Ontario (where it is protected under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act), Saskatchewan, Alabama, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North and South Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. In Illinois, Cypripedium candidum is state-listed as “threatened”, downlisted from endangered several years ago.
A long-lived perennial, it can establish clumps of up to 80 blooming stems under good conditions (no invasive shrubs to shade it, little disturbance from mechanical, biological or human impacts, sufficient seasonal water to sustain the mycorrhizal associates essential for recruitment). But unlike other, less conservative species, it shows no tendency to invade disturbed areas, so it is threatened with extinction in Illinois and elsewhere unless conservation efforts succeed. This species has the highest light requirements of any of North America’s native cypripediums, so intensive volunteer resources have been devoted to preserving it in its remaining habitats, removing aggressive or invasive brush (primarily dogwood (Cornus sp.), buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica), Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia), as well as tall aggressive or invasive forbs and grasses such as tall goldenrod (Solidago canadensis), sawtooth sunflower (Helianthus grosseserratus), common reed (Phragmites australis) and reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea).
Daniel adds: two points of BPotD interest: first of all, BPotD reader Patrick Gracewood on his sculpture blog Shadows on Stone made mention of the Guaiacum sanctum featured on BPotD a few days ago in a blog posting: Sculpture and Lignum Vitae.
Secondly, I think we have enough contributions now for this series. However, we’d really welcome contributions for February’s thematic series, “Biodiversity and Sports”. If you have photographs in the BPotD Flickr Pool that might work, please tag them with “iybfeb”. Or send them along to me — I suspect there will be a lot of wood and fibre species used in sports equipment, but if you can put on your lateral thinking caps, I’d be interested in tangential possibilities as well.