My absolute favorite wild flower!! There’s just something about them. I’m not sure if it is the elegant uniqueness? or perhaps the forbidden secretiveness…why they are usually found nestled in the forests and the knowing you must NEVER pick one !!!
Pink Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium acaule)
Alternate name: Pink Moccasin Flower
Family: Orchidaceae, Orchid
Discription: A leafless stalk bears 1 flower (rarely 2) with a distinctive pink, inflated, slipper-like lip petal, veined with red and with a fissure down the front.
Flowers: lip about 2 1/2" (6.3 cm) long; sepals and side petals greenish-brown, spreading; petals lanceolate, narrower than sepals.
Leaves: to 8" (20 cm) long, in twos, basal, oval, ribbed, dark green above, silvery-hairy beneath.
Fruit: erect capsule, to 1 3/4" (4.5 cm) long.
Height: 6-15" (15-37.5 cm).
Warning The plants of the genus Cypripedium have glandular hairs on the leaves and stems that can cause a rash, similar to poison ivy rash, upon contact.
Habitat: Dry forests, especially pine woods; often in humus mats covering rock outcrops; occasionally in moist woods.
Range: Saskatchewan to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia; south to South Carolina and Georgia; west to Alabama and Tennessee; north to Minnesota.
Discussion: This is one of the largest native Orchids and is found both in low, sandy woods and in higher, rocky woods of mountains. At times several hundred of these striking flowers can be counted within a small area. Nevertheless, like other woodland wildflowers it should not be picked. These Orchids propagate poorly and are very difficult to grow in wildflower gardens. The genus name derives from the Latin for “Venus’ slipper.”
Flower description copied from enature.com
Photo taken in Athol/New Salem, Massachusetts