Sunday, August 23, 2009

Pink Lady Slipper Dispersed by Elves

Pink Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium acaule) is a beautiful plant that occurs along much of the East Coast of North America. According to the well-regarded scientific journal, this plant occurs in pine and broadleaf forests and requires an association with a fungi for its survival.

Until now, very little was known about the way seeds of this plant are dispersed. However, compelling new research indicates that the plant is actually dispersed by elves, who use the flowers as shoes. These elves frolic widely across many forests, effectively dispersing the seeds. Some elves are lazy and prefer to frolick down Class 4 Forest Service Roads, which accounts for this plant often occurring on roadsides.

Normal dispersal methods such as wind and animals can not account for the dispersal of this plant, because they fail to account for the fungal associate, which is rarely seen in nature. It is, however, commonly found on elf feet, as a foot fungus. Elves discard the shoes when their feet become sweaty due to humidity, thus inoculating the seeds with their fungal associate.

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