Being a specialist in the behaviour of Grouse, Gisèle Benoit presents here a calming scene that occurs in an enchanted undergrowth. A Spruce Grouse hen broods her eggs patiently, near delicate flowers called Fairy Slipper, a native plant belonging to the orchid family. Gisèle magnificently illustrates the characteristics of the habitat where this species lives. Note the small Northern White-cedar in the upper right corner, which seems to enjoy a ray of golden sun! You can also observe the luxuriant carpet composed of green moss and various lichens associated with a waterlogged soil. We could almost smell their scents…
Fairy Slippers are in decline in the majority of their range, because of the loss of their habitat. Indeed, the ancient forests that they inhabit occupy less and less areas in the landscape. In fact, despite their exceptional beauty, we must refrain from plucking or transplanting any species of wild orchids. They have very specific habitat requirements and may not survive in flowerbeds.
Even if the Fairy Slipper offers no reward (nectar) to its pollinators, some bumblebees are attracted by the hairs and yellow spots of its petals, reminiscent of pollen! The seeds are produced in the thousands, but remain fragile because they have no energy reserves. So, they depend on Mycorrhizal Fungi to germinate and grow. This relationship between orchid and mushrooms is called symbiosis.