Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens (Greater Yellow Lady's-slipper)

Plant Info
Also known as: Large Yellow Lady's Slipper
Genus:Cypripedium
Family:Orchidaceae (Orchid)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:native
Habitat:shade, sun; moist rich woods, bogs, swamps
Bloom season:May - July
Plant height:8 to 30 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACW MW: FACW NCNE: FAC
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] Flower is irregular with a yellow pouch-shaped lower lip up to 2 inches long and a V-shaped column above the mouth of the pouch. The column and rim of the mouth are usually covered in reddish spots or stripes and there may be faint stripes on the sides and bottom of the pouch. Lateral petals are narrow, up to 2 inches long, typically spirally twisted, typically greenish to yellowish and flecked with purplish striping. Sepals are similar in color, 2 are fused behind the lip; upper sepal is broader and is erect above the lip. A single leaf-like, sparsely hairy floral bract stands erect at the top of the stem, behind the ovary. A plant typically has a single flower, occasionally 2.

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

[photo of leaves] 3 to 6 leaves are alternately attached up the stem. Leaves are up to 7 inches long and 4 inches wide, generally oval, toothless, pointed at the tip, tapering towards the base, clasping the main stem. There are many deep parallel veins that give it a striped look. The leaves and stem of young plants are noticeably hairy but may become less so with age.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

Fruit is an oblong-elliptic capsule containing numerous tiny seeds.

Notes:

This is the most common wild orchid in the U.S. and is found in almost every state. There are 3 accepted varieties of Yellow Lady's Slipper, 2 of which are found in Minnesota: Greater Yellow Lady's Slipper (var. pubescens) and Small Yellow Lady's Slipper (var. makasin). The flower pouch of Small is only up to about 1 inch long, the petals are usually darker in color and more twisted than the Greater variety, but the Greater variety can be variable in these things depending on environmental conditions. All 3 sub-species (including var. parviflorum) go by mulitple variations on their scientific names. At one time these North American orchids were considered the same as the European species (Cypripedium calceolus) but not any longer.

Where Cypripedium candidum (Small White Lady's-slipper) and C. parviflorum (either or both vars) are in close proximity to each other, such as the edge where prairie meets forest, hybrids are likely to occur; the hybrid between C. candidum and C. parviflorum var. makasin is known as C. ×andrewsii. According to Welby Smith's book “Native Orchids of Minnesota”, the hybrids can be baffling, most with intermediate characteristics in flower size and color, but some with different traits of each parent. In each case, the flower color may be white, creamy or yellow. It also mentions a study in Iowa showed hybridization was more common than previously thought, the hybrids cross-breeding between themselves and their parents, known as a hybrid swarm.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Wild River State Park, Center City, MN May 2009. Photo by Derek Anderson taken in Mahnomen County.

Comments

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

Posted by: Fred - so central mn
on: 2011-05-28 20:47:57

Took photos of this yellow orchid today growing in the wild in southern MN

Posted by: jeff - mankato mn
on: 2011-06-01 00:45:04

There are some currently blooming off of the Red Jacket Trail near Mankato. Someone had mentioned they counted 55 blooming! I noticed that a couple had double flowers...be careful not to step on them, someone must have slipped in the mud and smashed a couple of them :(

Posted by: Bill - Viking
on: 2011-06-21 06:16:48

I have the small and Greater Yellow Lady Slipper blooming along my drive way. The Greater Yellow Lady Slipper is currently blooming its heart out as the shoulder of the road is fill with the blooming Slippers.

Posted by: Jason - Mankato, MN
on: 2012-05-06 19:58:35

There are several dozen blooming along the Red Jacket Trail by the LeSueur River. Beautiful flowers!

Posted by: Matt - Mankato MN
on: 2012-05-19 14:42:54

Anyone know where I can purchase legally acquired yellow lady slipper plants or seeds near Mankato? Thanks much.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2012-05-19 16:27:59

To anyone interested in growing orchids, I suggest reading this article about the trouble with orchids at Landscape Alternatives.

Posted by: David - Two Harbors
on: 2012-06-04 06:28:13

Saw many Yellow Lady Slippers this morning on my walk. These plants are highly reliable and I always see them flowering around the first week of june. They seem to have a short window of bloom, only lasting for about two weeks. I see hundreds in the same spot every year and have to quickly notify my spouse to get her camera. They seem to be expanding within the cedars. I have yet to find the elusive "Showy Pink Lady Slipper". If you can find one on the north shore (Two Harbors and beyond), I'd love to see one. Enjoy the Spring!
Dave

Posted by: Tim - Williams
on: 2013-06-22 20:21:24

Seen many Yellow Lady Slippers while mowing and along side the trails at the golf course. Also looked for the state flower but the pink ones where now where in sight yet.

Posted by: Sue - Oronoco, Mn
on: 2014-04-24 21:28:29

I would love to plant the Lady Slipper in my garden. How can I buy them?

Posted by: Keith - Mille Lacs County, Pope County
on: 2014-05-20 15:03:30

I have found these flowers growing in road ditches near lake Mille Lacs and in rural road ditches near Glenwood, MN.

Posted by: Carole - Garfield
on: 2014-05-31 19:05:57

We have these in our woods in Garfield ( by Alexandria). They are so beautiful but you've got to be willing to brave the mosquitoes!!!

Posted by: Maggie - Itasca State Park
on: 2014-06-09 10:08:31

Took pictures of these beautiful flowers this weekend. (June 5-8, 2014) In full bloom at Itasca State Park.

Posted by: jacki - itasca state park
on: 2014-06-14 19:23:59

The yellow lady slippers are in bloom at itasca state park in northern minnesota! Gorgeous!!

Posted by: Susie - Lake Itaska
on: 2014-06-17 08:55:56

I took a picture of these when visiting the Mississippi Headwaters along the walking path.

Posted by: Dennis - Many Point Lake
on: 2014-06-28 16:32:18

Both Greater and lesser Yellow Lady Slipper week ending 06-14-14. W/E 06-28-014 Pink Lady Slipper.

Posted by: Laura - Pine River, Arrowhead Lake of the Whitefish Chain
on: 2014-09-03 13:36:32

I was surprised to find one of these growing in my backyard this year. It was only a single though; I searched for a cluster but found nothing more.

Posted by: Rick - Crosby
on: 2015-01-22 09:53:02

While driving a back road near Lake Winnibigoshish we saw literally hundreds of these blooming in the road ditch and up into the woods. I took a photo of one clump that has approx 28 blossoms. Incredible and beautiful.

Posted by: Jennifer - Sibley State park
on: 2015-05-31 14:19:11

Seen 5-30-15 @ Sibley State Park

Posted by: Heidi - Detroit lakes
on: 2015-06-05 04:57:48

I have over thirty yelliw lady slipper orchids growing in our woods...,some are at rusk of trampling from horses... Is it legal to dig up and can i sell them??

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2015-06-05 17:42:55
Posted by: Susan - Jay Cooke state park Carlton
on: 2015-06-06 12:51:21

Saw a field of Yellow Lady Slippers it Jay Cooke today!

Posted by: Donna - Detroit Lakes
on: 2015-06-08 22:04:28

These have been blooming all over in the wooded areas by lake Melissa. They peek out like a little sunshine in the overgrowth Does any one know do they spread? Is the flower head sead? I would love to see more of them

Posted by: ROY
on: 2016-04-13 07:15:28

I have never seen the yellow ones in person only the pink, As a child I vividly remember my late grandparents living where they were at, it was a joy every year seeing the flowers blooming under the massive white pines on a very steep hill. Pink lady slippers mind you,not yellow. We are blessed to live on a planet with such diversity but as the population of this nation grows it will be harder and harder to save species. This is not "fear talk" but reality. Unfortunately years later the huge white pine trees were cut down for the timber and large roads were shoved through where the flowers had been. A sickening clearing of chopped mess brightened by the sun. As I walked, the sight worsened. I hung my head and angry tears went down. (The land wasn't owned by my grandparents after all). People, cherish what you have and never take any of it for granted! We MUST take our concerns to younger generations & get them motivated or all will be lost... just my thoughts!

Posted by: Shawn - 8 miles east of Plainview in Whitewater Management Area
on: 2016-05-10 18:50:16

Skunked again looking for morels. However, came across yellow lady slippers. I have seen showy lady slippers in Northern Minnesota and had heard rumors of yellow lady slippers in Southern Minnesota. This discovery made the fact that I didn't find any morels all ok!

Posted by: Chad - Crosby
on: 2016-05-28 16:44:38

Found a bunch last weekend 50 plus.

Posted by: Steve - Voyageurs National Park, Kabetogama Visitor's Center
on: 2016-06-12 08:13:58

One week ago just outside the Kabetogama Visitors Center there were several patches of the "small" yellow variety, in the next couple weeks there will be many "showy" as there is an annual weekend festival celebrating the state's wildflower!

Posted by: Ken - Jay Cooke State Park
on: 2016-06-14 11:52:20

Jay Cooke State park is over run with Yellow Lady's-slipper. The trails beginning at the park office across the Swinging Bridge will lead to patches. My favorite is the High Trail which begins off Highway 23. Near the lookout at the end of this trail the splash of yellow is breathtaking. This is about a 2 to 3 mile hike in. But individual small stands are usually found along the entire trail. I photographed them 10 days ago June 2, so the season may be ending. The trail off Beck's Road in Duluth to the old DW&P railroad grade and tunnel has some nice patches.

Posted by: Karen - Bemidji
on: 2017-05-14 21:58:16

Anyone looking for the state flower Lady Slipper has to look fast when they are blooming. They are there one day gone the next. Deer love them and snip the heads right off.

Posted by: Nancy G - On the road in to Tipsinah Mounds City Park near Elbow Lake
on: 2017-05-21 19:21:59

First time I've seen these lovely flowers-- Greater Yellow Lady Slippers. Many in the rain-soaked woods in this park.

Posted by: Kelly B - Leech Lake area
on: 2017-05-29 21:21:39

Many of these beautiful orchids along Hwy 8 on the east side of Leech Lake.

Posted by: Gail D - Cass County
on: 2017-05-30 09:37:18

I believe I found a single example of the yellow Small Lady Slipper (var. makasin) along a road near a lake in northern Cass. I'm going back to measure the slipper portion of the blossom, which I estimated at 1-1.5 inches.

Posted by: Patti p - Mentor
on: 2017-06-03 21:45:43

We camp here in Mentor, Which is in Polk County. As we were taking a tootle on our golf cart, came across a small patch of Small Yellow Lady Slippers. Maybe 30-40 of them. Pretty cool!

Posted by: Gail - Itasca State Park
on: 2017-06-18 20:31:07

Took pictures of them last Wednesday, June 14, at the boat landing behind Douglas Lodge.

Posted by: Ray L - North shore of Lake Superior near Duluth
on: 2017-06-19 09:14:46

Found and photographed one blooming just outside of Duluth on the North Shore of Lake Superior on 6/18/17.

Posted by: Timothy J - Hennepin
on: 2017-06-20 10:38:28

If you look at the national distribution map for this flower you will notice distinctly that it is rare in all WI and IL counties while being "not rare" in all bordering MN and MI counties. Is there some kind of reporting bias between states as to what is considered rare or not rare?

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2017-06-20 15:30:55

Timothy, I imagine there are biases but each state has its own program. Maybe WI and IL treat orchids differently than other species, but we know that ND has NO special treatment for any plants except trees, because they are all pretty uncommon there.

Posted by: Jim C - Bemidji
on: 2017-06-25 18:46:19

You can't throw a dead cat in the woods near Bemidji without hitting a Greater yellow lady's slipper. There are small yellows too, but not as numerous.

Posted by: Joyce - Woodbury
on: 2017-08-16 19:44:16

For people looking to buy Lady's Slipper orchids legally, this outfit sells seed grown plants: http://www.ladyslipperfarm.com/

Posted by: Jody e - Kensington
on: 2018-05-30 18:52:55

My daughter and I seen at least a couple dozen of these little beauties today near Kensington,mn. Took pictures of a few.

Posted by: Brenda B - Garrison MN
on: 2018-06-03 19:38:15

We’ve traveled a lot of trails around here and only found them (large yellow lady slipper) on 1 trail. Can I harvest the seeds, and how is that done.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2018-06-03 20:30:13

Brenda, state law forbids harvesting wild orchids (even the seeds) without the landowner's permission. If it's public land that would be the city, county or state, and I can guarantee they will not allow it.

Posted by: Jamie - Chippewa National Forest county road 39
on: 2018-06-05 14:52:55

Growing right along the road heading South after the CCC Robideau camp

Posted by: kasymarie - Brophy Lake Wayside Rest area
on: 2018-06-07 12:48:16

So lovely, first time my children and I have seen this beautiful flower in nature.

Posted by: Erin - Duluth
on: 2018-06-09 18:05:44

Seen them for the first time on the Superior Hiking trail west of Beck's road in West Duluth. Very beautiful!

Posted by: April - Maplewood State Park
on: 2019-06-10 19:12:35

Saw several groupings of them along the knoll loop along the side of the road.

Posted by: David Bendorf - Hines, Lookout Tower Road
on: 2019-06-14 07:20:21

We have a couple plants under a spruce near the end of our driveway. Blooming a little late this year.

Posted by: Chelsi Low - County Hwy 11, on south side of Woman Lake, Hackensack, MN
on: 2020-05-25 13:54:25

In the ditches, visible from the road

Posted by: Amanda - Staples
on: 2020-05-27 21:50:26

Daughter found several Greater Yellow Lady Slipper flowers in bloom on our property near Staples, MN. They're intermingled with a couple other flowers (not orchid species) in an area of the property that is largely left alone. Interesting to see and learn about them!

Posted by: Tom - Goodhue County
on: 2020-06-01 12:51:35

I have a group and get about 8 flowers a year from a group in my yard in Red Wing. They have always been here since I moved in. I also have seen it on the bluffs near the Prairie Island Indian community.

Posted by: Michelle - Jay Cooke State Park
on: 2020-06-07 03:02:29

Near the swinging bridge

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