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Lady’s-slipper orchid blooms in May-June in Slovakia

PEOPLE who decide for a walk in the nature of Slovakia in May-June may have the luck to watch a lady’s-slipper orchid in bloom, environmentalists say. 

Lady’s-slipper orchid (Source: TASR)

This plant, up to 50 centimetres tall, can be found in penumbra on the borders of forests and in shrubs, from lowlands to mountains on limestone and dolomites.

Many consider this plant the most beautiful representative of Slovak flora – also thanks to the unusual form of the flower that really resembles a slipper. Yellow slipper with five red to reddish-brown petals attracts everyone who manages to see it, head of the Tatra National park administration, Pavol Majko, said for the TASR newswire.

The orchid has an interesting way of pollination, he added: the yellow slipper is a trap into which insects fall. Insects then fail to climb out of the trap otherwise than across the only escape route – the reproductive organs. During escaping, insects pollinate the orchid. Weaker insects often die if failing to get out of the sticky pollen. Heavy insects often tear the bottom of the slipper – when falling out – and fall out, thus failing to pollinate the plant.

After pollination, flowers quickly wither and change into a dry, dehiscent capsule with seeds that get spread by wind. It is in bloom from May to June, depending on altitude and weather, and it needs symbiosis with fungi and bacteria for survival. Flowers not pollinated stay long in their utmost beauty. In the past, people often plucked or dug them out, but currently, this is a very rare and endangered species.

Lady’s-slipper orchid is a plant of European importance and the value for society of one plant has been set at €138. If you are lucky enough to find it during your walks, enjoy its beauty but do not damage it – or the biotope in which it lives, Majko concluded.

At the break of May/June, hikers of the KST Krokus club from Hanušovce nad Topľou have been making trips to admire orchids already for 25 years. There are 26 orchid species growing in the Vranov nad Topľou district in eastern Slovakia.

This year, they made this hike with expert guidance, Elena Dercová of the Homeland Museum in Hanušovce nad Topľou who explained a lot about these protected plants. They also found lady’s-slipper orchids, TASR wrote.

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