Biologists from William & Mary College in Virginia are looking for Lady Slippers. They’ve found some rare Cypripediums growing wild near campus, and these Lady Slippers are very finicky about where they live. They need precise growing conditions, both for themselves and for a mutualistic fungus which lives in their roots. In addition, natural selection has designed their extraordinary blooms as an intricate maze for their pollinators. “These are the most unlikely plants to live in so many ways,” biology Professor Martha Case says. “One of the reasons I got into botany was that they made such an impression on me.” With their research, the biologists hope to unravel the pollination process and follow the effects of climate change.
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