Cypripedium candidum (Small White Lady's-slipper)
|Also known as:||White Moccasin-flower|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; moist prairies, sedge meadows, calcareous fens|
|Bloom season:||May - June|
|Plant height:||6 to 34 inches|
|USDA PLANTS database:||Minnesota county distribution map|
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Single to rarely two flowers on slender stem (peduncle), The inflated lower petal (the slipper) is ¾ to 1 inch long, glossy white, sometimes faint purple speckling lining pouch opening and/or faint veination on lower pouch. Bright yellow flower column, often splashed with red, broadens into a flat oval lip, appressed tightly into pouch opening. Lateral petals are narrow, to 1½ inches long, greenish brown and twisted. Sepals are similar in color; lateral sepals are fused behind the lip; upper sepal is broader and erect above the lip. The single leaf-like floral bract is up to 4¼ inches long.
2 to 4 leaves on the upper part of the stem are broad to lance-elliptical, each 2 to 6 inches long, covered with short hairs and parallel veins, are alternately attached and sheath the stem. A few scale-like leaves sheath the lower part of the stem. Dense clumps of up to 50 stems emerge from a single root.
Notes:Small White Lady's-slipper is a rapidly declining treasure and is a Minnesota State Special Concern species. My first post-college position was at (what I still call) the new zoo in Apple Valley. About that time construction began on the new Cedar Ave. bridge over the Minnesota River Valley. We obtained a salvage permit for orchids within the construction zone. Other orchid species, C. reginae (Showy Lady's-slipper) and C. parviflorum var. makasin (Small Yellow Lady's-slipper) were also present but masses of C. candidum were visible into the distance. None survived our hastily prepared beds at the zoo but no matter, today they are all but extinguished from the area. The culprit? Commercially developed reed canary-grass hybrids (RCG) - Phalaris arundinaceae, that swallowed up all of the land. Development and invasive species, can we envision less costly and destructive progress?
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Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk, taken on SNA lands in Cottonwood County where RCG also presents an imminent threat
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