Saturday, May 8, 2010
Pink Lady’s Slipper, Moccasin Flower, Watercolor by Catherine Kopper, US
Listings: Endangered, Illinois; Commercially Exploited, Endangered, Tennessee
The Plant’s Story
Cypripedium acaule, a large, showy wildflower, is one of the most recognizable wild orchids preferring haunts of acidic dry to wet forests, bogs, and wetland edges. Specific habitat requirements of Cypripedium acaule make it difficult to transplant probably due to its mutualistic relationship with specific mycorrhizal fungi in the soil; if those fungi are absent, the plant will decline then die. The fungi help the orchid take up nutrients from the soil and surrounding trees, and the orchid contributes carbon it photosynthesizes to the fungus. Once established in a place it likes, with a large root system, the moccasin flower can live for decades. The pink color and sweet scent of the lady’s slipper flower attract bees for pollination.
The Artist’s Story: Catherine Kopper
I have lived in Pembroke, Massachusetts since 1984 and each spring I have observed Cypripedium acaule, the pink lady’s slipper, blossom in a small wooded area behind my house. As soon as I saw the leaves I began to observe its progress and made some rough sketches. I also photographed the plants that I planned to paint. I prefer to work from the specimen so during a few days of good weather I sat outside and worked on my composition. I then returned to my studio to make a final drawing that I transferred to my watercolor paper.
More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story are included in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.