Cypripedium arietinum (Ram's-head Lady's-slipper)
|Also known as:||Ram's-head Moccasin Flower|
|Habitat:||part shade, shade; dry to moist forests, fens, cedar swamps|
|Bloom season:||May - June|
|Plant height:||6 to 12 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACW MW: FACW NCNE: FACW|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Small single (occassionally two) ½ to 1 inch flower atop a slender stem. The showy lower lip (the slipper) is inflated out horizontally with a conical extension descending from bottom. The slipper opening is white to yellow tinged and covered with silky hairs; under slipper is richly veined with purple, though an even rarer white form can be found. Lateral petals and sepals are similar, narrow, purplish-brown and may be slightly twisted. The upper sepal extends over the lip and is much larger and broader with more obvious striping. A single large, leaf-like, erect to curving bract sits at the top of the stem, behind the thickened ovary.
2 to 5 leaves, each 2 to 4 inches long, to 1¼ inch wide, are irregularily spaced on the stem. Leaves are elliptical with a rounded or blunt tip, softly textured surfaces, slightly wavy edges, and parallel veins.
Notes:Ram's-head Lady's-slipper is a Minnesota State Endangered species. While committed that more people come to learn, love and appreciate our native plant heritage, and we encourage people to get out and explore for themselves, we struggle with how much locational data we share. Humans have a great tendency to carelessly destroy that which they would love. Plants that are poached from the wild do not survive transplantation and only further diminish the ever decreasing population. The Ram's-head lady's-slipper is much sought after as it is as beautiful as it is rare, but you must remember you trepass in its garden and great humility and caution are demanded in its presence.
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Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk, taken at Cedar Creek Natural History Center in Isanti county, and portions of Chippewa Natl. Forest in Beltrami and Cass counties
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?