Yellow Lady’s Slipper

Yellow Lady’s Slipper: Cypripedium calceolus var. parviflorum

The Yellow Lady’s Slipper: the most widely-spread orchid in North America. The only US states and Canadian territories in which it definitively cannot be found are Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Nevada, and Nunavut. Depending on whether one considers it the same species as the European Yellow Lady’s Slipper (a heated debate of its own), it is also spread across northern and central Europe, Siberia, northern China, and Korea.

In spite of being so widely spread, it’s still uncommon if not quite rare. Like all lady’s slippers, the yellows are dependent on mycorrhizal fungi in the soil to survive. Until the plant grows enough leaves to photosynthesize—up to five years after germination—it relies entirely on the fungus to feed it. Even after a plant matures, it can still be dependent on the fungus, one of the reasons lady’s slippers rarely survive transplanting.

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