Stemless Lady’s Slipper

pink lady's slipper blossom
Stemless Lady’s Slipper, Cypripedium acaule

Cypripedium acaule is one of the more confusing lady’s slippers to name, since it has at least three common names: the Stemless Lady’s Slipper (called so because the true stem of the plant is entirely below ground; the leafless stalk that the flower blooms on is actually a scape), the pink lady’s slipper, and the moccasin flower. Regardless of its English title, Cypripedium acaule is the floral emblem of Prince Edward Island and state wildflower of New Hampshire.

How did the moccasin flower come to be? The most famous story tells of an Ojibwe village, where many had fallen ill during the harsh winter. A girl determines that the only way to save her people is to run to the next village for medicine, and she runs so fast and so hard over the ice and snow that her moccasins fall to tatters and the ice cuts her feet, leaving droplets of blood along her trail. She returns with the medicine, saving her village, and in the spring wherever a droplet of blood had fallen, there a pink lady’s slipper grows.