Cypripedium acaule (Stemless Lady's-slipper)

Plant Info
Also known as: Pink Moccasin-flower, Small Pink Lady's-slipper
Genus:Cypripedium
Family:Orchidaceae (Orchid)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:native
Habitat:part shade, sun; dry to wet forests, swamps, bogs, acidic soil
Bloom season:May - July
Plant height:6 to 17 inches
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular

[photo of flower] A single flower atop long slender, finely bristly stem with a large, showy sack-like lower lip (the slipper), 1½ to 2½ inches long, inflated with a deep cleft running down the front, covered in fine bristles. Color ranges from pale pink, sometimes nearly white, to rich pink with deeper colored intricate veining. Central flower column is brownish red. Lateral petals are narrow, brownish green with visible striping, twisting slightly, densely bristly on upper-inner surface. Sepals similar in color to petals, broader with the two lateral fused behind the slipper, the third forming a hood above it. A leaf-like bract, green and bristly, about the same size as sepals ascends up and forward over the thickened ovary and upper sepal.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] The 2 basal leaves are finely bristled textured, elliptical, 3½ to 9 inches long, 1 to 3½ inches wide, with many conspicuous parallel veins, and sheathe the bristly hairy stem.

Fruit:

[photo of fruit] Fruit is an ascending capsule that ripens to brown, and contains thousands of tiny seeds.

Notes:

Many Minnesotan's are somewhat familiar with the Lady's-slippers because our state flower, C. reginae (Showy Lady's-slipper) is one. Some have called Stemless Lady's-slipper the scrotum flower and before anyone is too alarmed, just ask any man who has had a orchidectomy. Many gardeners have long wished to grow orchids in their home flower beds. It is possible and doable and they are increasingly available on the market - albeit expensive. But these are not your mothers petunias and micro-habitat is everything. This particular species is not available and is nearly impossible to establish. It requires shade, well buffered acidic and poor nutrient soils. Wildflowers should never be stolen from a wild place and brought home. If one does that they are a poor excuse for a gardener, and, for orchids in particular, in all likelihood the plant will not survive transplanting anyway.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk, taken at numerous locations on state lands in Aitkin and Beltrami counties

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Mary - St. Louis County
on: 2010-06-10 17:15:09

I found the bloom of this plant on the ground near our yard after we moved a boat that had been overturned. Will the lack of shade kill the plant? I'm tempted to put the boat back! How important is shade to this plant?

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2010-06-10 22:18:58

I'm not an expert on growing orchids, but I can tell you that I've seen these out in locations that were more sun than shade.

Posted by: Mary - St. Louis County
on: 2010-06-13 21:48:49

Thanks! Once I knew what I was looking for, I found several others in the yard, not in bloom, but healthy.

Posted by: Lou - Moose Lake, MN
on: 2012-05-31 18:38:35

The woodlands are so exciting. Keeping one's eyes open and seeing little miracles everywhere.

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