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white slipper seeds

White slipper seeds
Pink lady’s slipper is a large, showy wildflower belonging to the orchid family. It has two opposite basal leaves with conspicuous parallel veins and a large flower at the end of an erect stalk. The flower is magenta to whitish-pink; sometimes the whitish pink flowers will have darker pink venation. Rarely the flower may be all white. This plant grows 6 to 15 inches tall and flowers generally between May and July.

U.S. Forest Service

United States Department of Agriculture

Plant of the Week

Range map of pink Lady’s slipper. States are colored green where the species may be found.

Pink Lady’s slipper (Cypripedium acaule). Photo courtesy of Susan Trull, U.S. Forest Service.

Cypripedium acaule. Photo by Thomas G. Barnes, University of Tennessee Herbarium.

Pink Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium acaule Ait.)

By Patricia J. Ruta McGhan

Pink lady’s slipper is a large, showy wildflower belonging to the orchid family. It has two opposite basal leaves with conspicuous parallel veins and a large flower at the end of an erect stalk. The flower is magenta to whitish-pink; sometimes the whitish pink flowers will have darker pink venation. Rarely the flower may be all white. This plant grows 6 to 15 inches tall and flowers generally between May and July.

The species name acaule is Latin, meaning, “stem less”, referring to the plant’s leafless flowering stem. Another common name for this plant is moccasin flower.

Orchids often have swollen, ball-shaped tubers that were regarded in traditional practices as having medicinal value. The root of lady’s slipper was used as a remedy for nervousness, tooth pain, and muscle spasms. In the 1800s and 1900s it, and other orchids, were widely used as a substitute for the European plant valerian for sedative properties.

In order to survive and reproduce, pink lady’s slipper interacts with a fungus in the soil from the Rhizoctonia genus. Generally, orchid seeds do not have food supplies inside them like most other kinds of seeds. Pink lady’s slipper seeds require threads of the fungus to break open the seed and attach them to it. The fungus will pass on food and nutrients to the pink lady’s slipper seed. When the lady’s slipper plant is older and producing most of its own nutrients, the fungus will extract nutrients from the orchid roots. This mutually beneficial relationship between the orchid and the fungus is known as “symbiosis” and is typical of almost all orchid species.

Pink lady’s slipper takes many years to go from seed to mature plants.В Seed-bearing harvest of wild lady’s slipper root is not considered sustainable. Pink lady’s slippers can live to be twenty years old or more.

Pink lady’s slippers also require bees for pollination. Bees are lured into the flower pouch through the front slit, attracted by the flower’s bright color and sweet scent. Once inside, the bees find no reward, and discover that they are trapped, with only one point of escape. Inside the pouch, there are hairs that lead to a pair of exit openings, one beneath each pollen mass. The bee must pass under the stigma, so if it bears any pollen from a visit to another flower, it will be deposited before picking up a fresh load on the way out.

Pink lady’s slipper lives in a variety of habitats, growing in mixed hardwood coniferous forests of pine and hemlock on rocky/mossy slopes, and in semi-open or in deep humus and acidic but well-drained soil under birch and other deciduous trees of eastern United States forests.

Plants are shipped bare-root, wrapped in damp sphagnum moss. Photographs are representative of species, and not the specific plant shipped.

Lady’s Slipper – Queen’s

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Queen’s Lady’s Slipper Orchid

Ease to Grow: Moderate.
Dormancy: Yes
Native Range: Woodlands of Eastern North America.
Zones: 3-7 (3-9).

Queen’s Lady’s Slipper Orchid, Cypripedium reginae, is a large showy Lady’s Slipper with rose pink and white flowers. It is a hardy upland bog orchid. The petals and sepals are white and the large egg-shaped pouch is a beautiful blend of pink with white stripes. They have an opening through which pollinating insects travel. There is no nectar, and insects have to find their way through the pouch and out the back. They probably soon learn there is little nectar available in Lady’s Slippers and avoid the flowers, which may be why so few are pollinated in the wild. Flowers are singluar on tall spikes. It is a Spring bloomer, and flowers can last up to a month or more. Flower spikes benefit from staking, and protection from the wind. In their natural habit, Queen’s Lady’s Slipper Orchids grow in rich, moist, open, boggy woods. The soil is typically acidic, low nutrient, loose, well drained and humusy. It is consistently moist, but not saturated. There is frequently a layer of decomposing leaves on the soil surface. Light is shade or dappled sunlight. Plants tolerate full sun, but do not look their best. Seeds are very fine and numerous, but can be a challenge to germinate. It is winter hardy, and should be protected from rodents during dormancy. Mulch with 4+” of pine needles in the Fall. Leave at least a 1″ of needles after spring cleanup. The rhizomes can be stored in damp sphagnum at 35°F (2°C) in a refrigerator for 3 or 4 months. Water with rain/distilled water, they are sensitive to mineral buildup. Do not over water, and be sure to keep the soil slightly moist during the peak of summer. Some folks are sensitive to the leaf hairs. It is striking in beds and pots, and makes a colorful addition to the bog garden.

Plants are shipped bare-root, wrapped in damp sphagnum moss. Photographs are representative of species, and not the specific plant shipped.

Height: 18″ – 27″.
Plant Type: Perennial, cold temperate.
Soil: Lady’s Slipper Mix.
Soil pH: 7-7.5.
Light: Partial Sun to Dappled Light.
Use: Grows best outdoors in the bog garden or pots.