Cypripedium arietinum

Lady’s slippers – What’s your size?

Orchids of Bruce Peninsula II

I was saying earlier that one could spot quite a few Cypripedium spp.- Lady’s slippers, at Singing Sands National Park in Bruce Peninsula. Tread lightly on the trails, watch carefully and maybe you’ll even meet the lady’s slippers fairy from the image below.

Cypripedium reginae – Showy lady’s slipper; it is usually found in fens and swamps and it’s easy to recognize after the bright pink slipper with a round opening. The pink blushing of the pouch can vary greatly in the populations, from deep pink to even, in rare cases, ‘albino’ individuals. As a complement to the flowers are the beautifully ribbed, wide leaves.

 Cypripedium arietinum – Ram’s head. Easily recognisable after the unusual shape of the slipper (lip), which also has reddish reticulations. It is flowering a bit earlier than C. reginae and parviflorum, so a visit in late May is advisable.

 Cypripedium parviflorum – Yellow lady’s slipper; it is an extremely variable species in regards to flower size and colours. Currently there are 3 varieties recognized in Flora of North America: var. pubescens, var. parviflorum and var. makasin. Personally, I can say that plants growing on drier sites have the slipper usually yellow and larger than those growing in wet habitats (most likely with reddish slipper).

I would strongly advise everyone with the desire and intention of growing orchids in their garden to try to see them first in their native habitat. High prices, of any orchids, are rightly justified by the difficulty to propagate them (mainly in vitro) and the length of time necessary to obtain a flowering size plant (5-7 years). There are many hybrids in cultivation today, which besides interesting flower colours, are said to be more adaptable and faster growing in garden conditions.