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PlantFiles: Species Orchid, Stemless Lady's Slipper, Moccasin Flower, Short Inflorescence Cypripedium
Cypripedium acaule

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Family: Orchidaceae (or-kid-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Cypripedium (sip-rih-PEE-dee-um) (Info)
Species: acaule (a-KAW-lee) (Info)

Synonym:Calceolus hirsutus
Synonym:Cypripedium hirsutum
Synonym:Cypripedium humile
Synonym:Fissipes acaulis
Synonym:Fissipes hirsuta

12 members have or want this plant for trade.

Category:
Perennials

Height:
6-12 in. (15-30 cm)

Spacing:
9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

Hardiness:
USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)
USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

Sun Exposure:
Light Shade
Partial to Full Shade

Danger:
Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:
Pink
Green
Brown/Bronze
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer

Foliage:
Herbaceous
Veined

Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings
This plant may be considered a protected species; check before digging or gathering seeds

Soil pH requirements:
4.5 or below (very acidic)
4.6 to 5.0 (highly acidic)
5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)

Patent Information:
Non-patented

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

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There are a total of 25 photos.
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Profile:

10 positives
2 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

RatingAuthorContent
Positive Mike_W On May 13, 2013, Mike_W from Sterling, MA wrote:

An wonderful plant! They seem to be very scattered in the wild and I've heard they can be very picky about where they grow. I had found one growing in the woods here in town several years back and did a little bit of research on what sort of growing conditions they like. I carefully dug up one of the plants, making sure to take a good portion of the soil beneath it, leaving the roots intact. I then planted it in a special spot in my yard that had similar if not exactly the same conditions as its original location. It is planted in dappled shade with ferns and hostas under a row of pines. In the wild it had been growing in just this sort of environment. It is now about 6 years later and my lady's slipper continues to thrive. In fact, it is actively flowering right now. I am very glad I was able to successfully transplant such a beauty. I hope it continues to thrive for many years to come.

Negative duncanroadfish On Dec 21, 2011, duncanroadfish from Hemby Bridge, NC wrote:

I live in zone 7b-8 and have tried this plant several times. I had some success with it one spring when I planted the fall before. I had nice bloom but the next year nothing, no foliage nothing. I wish I had just left them with the person I purchased them from and hey would have still been alive.

Positive raisedbedbob On Feb 3, 2006, raisedbedbob from Walkerton, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

Like most folks I don't recommend transplanting this beautiful wildflower except under special circumstances; for instance, when the developers move in with bulldozers. Here's a technique my brother developed 30 years ago which seems to have worked:
Get a wooden bushel basket.
Invert it over a single plant if possible.
Mark the perimeter, and dig a hole as wide as the perimeter and as deep as the basket.
Now lift the plant, dirt and all, and put it in the basket.
Dig a hole as big and deep as the basket and put the plant + basket in it and water in. Mulch with pine straw and pray. His have lasted 30 years and multiplied.

Positive Neilp On Aug 29, 2005, Neilp from Loves Park, IL wrote:

I have grown native orchids and in particular Cypripedium for several years now. Acaule to me is the gem of the North. When it is happy, it is truly prolific (300+ flowering stems in 1/4 Sq. Mi.). Unfortunately, that may be a thing of the past. One of the largest hurdles for our native orchids is cross pollination. Groups of plants become severed on their own little islands or preserved land. No new genes arrive, eventually leading to inbred lines and very poor seed production. If you are lucky enough to have these growing naturally on your property I might make a few suggestions: leave them alone, they are a lot tougher than they get credit for! Try thinning tree limbs overhead, the more indirect bright light, the more growth and flowers; and lastly, talk to a local orchid society, many orchid societies are involved with pollination programs to help diversify our beloved Lady's Slippers genes and making sure they will be around for a long time to come.

Positive gregr18 On Jun 24, 2005, gregr18 from Bridgewater, MA (Zone 6b) wrote:

A beautiful terrestrial orchid native to the eastern part of the US. These grow in shady pine forests in small clumps and can be seen flowering in May and June.

It is tempting to pick these orchids in the wild, but natural pollination rates are very low (10% according to the Massachusetts Wild Flower Society website) and the plant can be slow to propagate, so plants should be left undisturbed.

It is extremely difficult to transplant these orchids successfully, as their root systems are very fragile and they require the presence of mycorrhiza fungus in the soil to help with the absorption of nutrients. Early success with transplanting is no indication of the plants long-term survival, and plants usually die within 4 to 5 years after being transplanted. This doesn't sound too bad in and of itself, but individual plants can live for 100 years in the wild. It is better to leave them alone, and they look better in their natural environment anyway.

These Lady Slippers are very common in Massachusetts, and it isn't unusual to see hundreds of them while walking in a shady wild pine forest. Though it is perfectly legal to pick them in neighboring New Hampshire, there are laws in Massachusetts that protect all native orchid species. This plant does not, however, appear on the list of species that are protected or "of interest" in the state. I was recently walking in a nature reserve in my town that gets quite a bit of foot traffic, and there were many stands of unmolested Lady Slippers right next to the trail, indicating to me that most people were aware of and respected the special status and beauty of this plant in its natural habitat.

Positive drivebytrucker On May 27, 2005, drivebytrucker from Menomonie, WI (Zone 4a) wrote:

I grow it with my pitcher plants (Sarracenia) and it seems to love the wet peaty soil. It has spread each year.

Positive sbragonier On Jul 7, 2004, sbragonier from Hope Valley, RI (Zone 6b) wrote:

I have been blessed with these beautys growing native on my small lot. I have set aside the area they like as a "no garden zone". 2004 count 40 plants 6 blooms

Positive nativenovice On Jun 1, 2004, nativenovice from Wells Bridge, NY wrote:

I live in upstate Ny and recently noted some new additions to my garden. I did not know what they were and so took some photos to ask other gardeners. Someone finally told me that it was called "Lady Slipper" and that is how I searched and found this page. "MY" Lady Slippers just appeared and are beautful. THere are 2 pairs in my garden. After hearing how endangered they are and how difficult to grow, I feel very blessed! I will upload photos soon.

Positive Todd_Boland On Mar 9, 2004, Todd_Boland from St. John's, NL (Zone 5b) wrote:

This is the very RARE form of the pink lady's-slipper. I found this plant growing among a patch of typical pink ones growing in Pippy Park, St. John's, Newfoundland. Cultivation is very difficult for pink lady's-slippers and the white form should be left where they are for others to enjoy.

Positive sudburyriver On Jun 15, 2003, sudburyriver from Wayland, MA wrote:

It's a stunningly beautiful native plant in New England.
However, I've lost some due to a black leaf condition, mold or mildew, and have received mixed opinions on how to deal with it.

Neutral smiln32 On Aug 19, 2002, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

This plant prefers dry, acidic woods, typically on slopes or steep hillsides, and in sphagnum bogs.

Positive darius On Jul 30, 2002, darius from So.App.Mtns.
United States (Zone 5b) wrote:

Showy bloom but often hidden in the woodland shade. Please do not dig from the wild. Mine was nursery propagated and does well in my shade garden.

Neutral Terry On Apr 6, 2002, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

Has a reputation for being difficult to grow; however one site suggests using only soft water (add a couple tablespoons of vinegar) when watering, and do not fertilize. A beautiful and endangered native plant.

Regional...

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

,
Old Lyme, Connecticut
Cornelia, Georgia
Lula, Georgia
Bardstown, Kentucky
Valley Lee, Maryland
Bolton, Massachusetts
Bridgewater, Massachusetts
Dudley, Massachusetts
Haydenville, Massachusetts
Mattapoisett, Massachusetts
Millbury, Massachusetts
New Salem, Massachusetts
Northfield, Massachusetts
Sterling, Massachusetts
Wayland, Massachusetts
Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts
Bay City, Michigan
Cadillac, Michigan
Saint Helen, Michigan
West Branch, Michigan
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey
Hannibal, New York
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Hendersonville, North Carolina
Morganton, North Carolina
Tidioute, Pennsylvania
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Hope Valley, Rhode Island
Rhoadesville, Virginia
Roanoke, Virginia
Menomonie, Wisconsin



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