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Showy Lady’s Slippers Flowering

6-18-18 showy lady's slipper_U1A7885

Showy Lady’s Slippers (Cypripedium reginae) can be found growing in five of the six New England states (all but Rhode Island). They are ranked as “extremely rare” in three of these states (CT, MA and NH), and uncommon in Vermont and Maine. To gaze upon a flowering clonal cluster of these striking orchids is a thrill no matter where you are in the Northeast.

Given their rarity and distinctive appearance, all populations of Showy Lady’s Slippers are well documented. However, one can still unexpectedly come upon them. In Vermont, where they are on the “List of Rare and Uncommon Native Vascular Plants,” an historical population that had not been seen since 1902 was rediscovered by the Green Mountain National Forest staff in 2009. It consisted of more than 1000 plants.

When you’re traveling through wetlands (forested or open) and moist woods, generally in limy sites, at low to moderate elevations, keep an eye open for these rare beauties. Showy Lady’s Slippers dramatically announce their presence at this time of year with their distinctive and colorful blossoms. (For more natural history on this species, go to the Naturally Curious blog, scroll down and on the right-hand side, search for “Showy Lady’s Slipper.”)

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12 responses

  1. Alice Pratt

    Gorgeous photo! I do know many areas where this wildflower grows!

    June 18, 2018 at 9:13 am

  2. Connie Lentz

    Wow! What a beautiful shot! I suggest submitting it to the American Orchid Society for Orchids magazine

    June 18, 2018 at 10:20 am

  3. arleen hollenhorst

    Minnesota’s State Flower!

    June 18, 2018 at 10:57 am

  4. Libby Hillhouse

    Mary, can you confirm that, if picked, it may take around 15-16 years to regrow? I have heard this is very detrimental to this rare plant’s revival. What do you know???

    June 18, 2018 at 11:12 am

    • Hi Libby,
      All I know is that it is protected, and should not be picked! Their seeds have to have certain mycorrhizal fungi in order to survive, they are very fragile and it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that it takes a very long time for them to flower. For more info on their relationship with fungi, see https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/picky-eaters-club/ .

      June 18, 2018 at 12:19 pm

  5. Bonnie Adams

    Hi Mary. We have a number of these Lady’s Slippers growing in the woods behind our house.  It is nice to see that they are spreading too. We counted seven this year, up from three last year. They must be deer-proof although I’m sure that the deer don’t read the ‘Plants Deer Won’t Eat’ lists! Thanks for the daily posts! Bonnie Adams Hampton, N.B., Canada

    June 18, 2018 at 12:56 pm

  6. Ruth Gross

    Beautiful!

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    June 18, 2018 at 4:50 pm

  7. Pat

    Mary, thanks for the notice that these are blooming now. I made a point to go out and see them for the first time this afternoon.

    June 20, 2018 at 12:25 am

  8. Susan Page

    I thought I’d missed the yellow lady slippers at the Acton Arboretum. Guess I should check again to see if they are blooming now. Lovely photo!

    June 20, 2018 at 11:41 am

    • Yellow Lady’s Slippers are usually a week or two ahead of Showys, I’m afraid.

      June 20, 2018 at 4:18 pm

    • Pat

      At the bog I visited to see these showy lady’s slippers, their yellow lady slippers bloom a few weeks before the showies. Some all white ones bloom after the showies.

      June 20, 2018 at 7:46 pm

  9. David Keller

    Where I grew up in MA we had a pine forest next to the MDC aqueduct which was carpeted with pink Lady Slippers. I remember them being low growing….maybe 10”” and……flatter hairy? leaves. That was also not far from Garden in the Woods ( Framingham). This picture looks more like the ones growing in my garden here in VT.

    >

    June 20, 2018 at 3:42 pm

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