Cypripedium parviflorum var. makasin (Small Yellow Lady's-slipper)
|Also known as:||Lesser Yellow Lady's-slipper|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; wet to moist soil; conifer swamps, fens, boreal forests|
|Bloom season:||May - June|
|Plant height:||6 to 17 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACW MW: FACW NCNE: FAC|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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One to rarely two flowers, the inflated lower petal (the slipper) is ¾ to 1¼ inches long, glossy yellow, with purple splotches lining pouch opening and faint purple veination on lower pouch. Bright yellow flower column, splashed with purple, broadens into a flat oval lip, appressed tightly into pouch opening. Lateral petals are narrow, up to 2 inches long, typically spirally twisted, dark purple/brown but can be lighter, flecked with greenish 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.
Leaves and stem:
2 to 5 leaves, oval to elliptical, 2½ to 6½ inches long with distinct parallel veins are alternately attached and sheathe the stem. Several scale-like leaves sheathe the lower stem. 10 or more stems may emerge from a single root.
From frequent clumped masses in sunny damp ditches along Hwy 59 in Red Lake County, this dainty ballerina like flower migrates deep into coniferous bogs in the Cass Lake area. More adaptable than most native orchids it is increasingly cultivated and available for purchase. There are 3 accepted varieties of Yellow Lady's-slipper, 2 of which are found in Minnesota. The most noticeable difference between var. makasin and var. pubescens (Large Yellow Lady's-slipper) is the flower size; the latter flowers are about twice the size and is overall hairier, the former has flowers about the same size as C. candidum (Small White Lady's-slipper).
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Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk, taken at various locations in Beltrami and Cass Counties; the indoor image taken at Orchids Limited in Plymouth, MN
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?