Sunday, June 28, 2009

Cypripedium reginae

[Photo: Cypripedium reginae.]Cypripedium reginae, known in English as "showy ladyslipper", "pink and white lady's slipper", "royal lady's slipper", or "queen's lady's slipper" and in French as cyprip├Ęde royal, is a rare perennial orchid native to southeastern Canada and northeastern United States.

[Photo: Cypripedium reginae flower bud.] Here's a dear lady's slipper just opening. It reminds me of a shy maiden ducking her head, with blushing cheeks.

Lady's slippers produce no nectar to entice pollinators; according to a sign at Purdon, they rely of the "curosity" of bees. If a flower actually is pollinated, it produces thousands of tiny seeds. However, they mostly reproduce vegetatively from rhizomes.

[Photo: Cyprepedium reginae.]I hadn't seen showy lady's slipper in real life before I visited the Purdon Conservation Area in eastern Ontario. (When I was growing up we lived not that far away, but the Purdon has a large fen for the showy lady's slippers, whereas our land had lots of rocks with thin soil that the pink lady's slipper, Cypripedium acaule, favours.) Lady's slippers are particular about their growing environment and difficult to grow in the garden (unless you are a gifted gardener like Teza) so for most of us it is best to enjoy them in the wild. (Removing plants from the wild is bad in any case but especially for rare plants like this which are unlikely to survive transplantation. Because cypripediums are so difficult to cultivate, it's vital to make sure that if you buy one it wasn't just dug up from the wild.)

[Photo: colony of wild Cypripedium reginae.]You're unlikely to see this many lady's slippers in any garden, not only due to the difficulty of growing them but the cost, about $40 per plant.

[Photo: many Cypripedium reginae in bloom at Purdon Conservation Area.]This is only a small fraction of the lady's slippers blooming now at Purdon. Truly an amazing sight.


  1. Rosemary:
    What a wonderful treat to see so many Cypripedium reginae growing in one place! Your description of a shy maiden with blushing cheeks is perfect! Thank you for the kind words and link to my post. Thank you for reminding people about the need for plant conservancy, esoecially the rare beauties that beautify our province. A wonderful post! Much enjoyed!

  2. I just read more about the Purdon Conservation Area on their website. Apparently the former landowner, Joe Purdon, found a dozen ladyslippers on his land, and through his stewardship increased it to 16,000 blooms today, the largest colony of showy ladyslippers in Canada!


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