One of the most beautiful spring flowers is the endangered Pink Lady's Slipper, Cypripedium acaule, also known as Mocassin Flower. If you come upon one (or several) as you amble through the woods this time of year, count yourself blessed!
These beautiful flowers are in the orchid family. One of the reasons they are so rare is that they are slow growing and need very specific fungi to help the seedlings survive, specifically one from the Rhizoctonia genus. Most seeds have internal food supplies; but not so for the Pink Lady's Slipper. These orchid seeds require the assistance of the Rhizoctonia fungus to break open the seed. The fungus attaches to the seed, and then passes on food and nutrients. Once the plant reaches an age where it starts producing most of its own nutrients, the fungus then extracts nutrients from the orchid roots. A Pink Lady's Slipper plant can live twenty years or more.