An Orchid for the Future

Project location: ITALY
Project start date: June 2001 - Project end date: December 2001
Project number: 2000-03
Beneficiary: University of L’Aquila

Survey in the Parco Nazionale della Majella
The last activities have taken place in the Majella National Park: the on field survey took place in June 2002, during the flowering season of the Cypripedium calceolus.
Census has been taken and mapping has been made of all plants, in order to make a direct comparison on the number of flowerings of 2002 and on the vigour of the population. Every individual has been numbered, photographed and described in a file that indicates physiognomic and ecologic characteristics.

It has been documented the presence inside the flowers of insects that guarantee cross pollination.
It's the first observation of pollinators of Cypripedium in Central Italy.
It has been evaluated the result of the intervention made last year on the arboreal vegetation (mainly beech) in the Cypripedium population area. That is the issue of cutting the beeches to allow Slippers have more light. It has been noticed that the more vigorous exemplars, able to complete the flowering, are the ones that get more light, confirming the effectiveness of the intervention.

The beech, and the pine in a lesser way, tend to consolidate the gravel by stretching out the roots, but at the same time they expand the foliage. This natural tendency, also favoured particularly in the last years by the decrease of average winter precipitations, causes unfavourable conditions for the Cypripedium. For the safeguard of the species in its natural environment it is therefore necessary a periodic maintenance by highly qualified staff, capable of moving without damaging and of examining with care what arboreal plants to eliminate to give sufficient light to the few exemplars of Cypripedium left.
Prof. Rossi therefore suggested to close to the public the area of the Park where the slippers grow. Stepping on it would compromise the balance of the underwood with its thin layer of humus that, if damaged, would be easily washed away, to the detriment of the survival of individuals and anyhow would prevent new plants from growing. For this purpose he suggested not to spread the photographic material regarding the position of the station, but only macrophotographies of plants and flowers. Same for the birch that could be easily associated with the Cypripedium station.

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University of L'Aquila (Italy)
Environmental Sciences Department

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