Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Wild orchid called Laddies Slipper (Cypripedium acaule)

This Spring we had the Laddies Slipper return to our woods! This is a wild orchid that can be found in eastern parts of the United States and as far north into Canada and near the arctic circle. The scientific name is called Cypripedium acaule and it gets the nick name Lady's Slipper because the single flower (the pink part in the pictures) forms a pouch and it looks like a slipper or a moccasin. 

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The reason behind this species forming a pouch with a sweet smell is to get insects to climb inside and have a hard time climbing out of the pouch because of it's slippery nectar walls. They do not however do  this to eat the insects but get them to climb out and passing there staminode where they collect pollen or deposit some. Nifty!
These are really nice to see when you get the chance to find one. I haven't seen one in a long time and then out of no where I counted 100 individual ones in our woods this past spring. Some states see it as endangered but other states see it pretty common like New England and parts of Canada.
Also if you pick this flower it will have a hard time regenerating and also if you try digging it up and you accidently cut the roots it will not be easy to replant.
This plant likes acidic soils and loves pine groves but you can find it in deciduous forest as well like mine. Also there is a specific fungus that is needed around it for this plant to grow. For all of these reasons it is really hard to grow this specific "wild Orchid" in your every day garden. Just leave it wild and enjoy it!



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info from Wikipedia 

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