Showy Lady's Slipper

Cypripedium reginae

 
Showy lady's slipper range map

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Showy Lady's Slipper

The showy lady's slipper is Minnesota's state flower. Since 1925, the state has regulated the collection and commercial sale of this species. The showy lady's-slipper is one of 43 orchid species that grow in Minnesota. Many people consider it the most beautiful flower in the state.

Identification

General description: A brightly-colored orchid that has one or sometimes two blossoms on a single stem. White petals sit on top of a white pouch (slipper) streaked with pink. Hairy oval leaves clasp the stem.

Length: one to two feet tall.

Color: Pink, red, white, and green.

Reproduction

The lady's slipper flowers from early June to mid-July. It flowers best in bright sunlight, although it will grow in semi-shaded areas. In its first year, this orchid grows only as tall as a pencil point. Each year, the lady's slipper may produce a half-million seeds, which are as fine as flour dust. This flower has a long life span; some may be 100 years old.

Habitat and range

The lady's slipper grows in spruce and tamarack bogs, swamps, wet meadows, wet prairies, and cool, damp woods. It may be found anywhere in Minnesota where these habitats exist.

Population and management

The lady's slipper is uncommon in Minnesota. Population can be hurt by wetland drainage, road construction, tree cuttings, and illegal picking and uprooting. In addition, herbicides used on roadside areas can kill these plants. The best management is to protect the lady's-slipper's native habitat.

Fun facts

Some people can get a rash from touching the leaves of this pretty orchid.