Moccasin Flower

Vickie Emms

Anola, MB., Canada

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(Anola, Manitoba
Canon EOS T3i; 15-200mm lens
Taken by my husband Fred*

Cypripedium acaule is a member of the orchid genus Cypripedium. Members of this genus are commonly referred to as lady’s slipper orchids. First described in 1789 by Scottish botanist William Aiton, C. acaule is commonly referred to as the Pink Lady’s Slipper, Stemless Lady’s-slipper, or Moccasin Flower. The Pink Lady’s Slipper is the provincial flower of Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Unlike most other members of “Cypripedium”, the pouch of C. acaule opens in a slit that runs down the front of the labellum rather than a round opening. The plant consists of two plicate leaves near the ground. From between those leaves sprouts a long, pubescent stalk that bears a single pink flower. The sepals and petals tend to be yellowish-brown to maroon with a large pouch that is usually some shade of pink but can be nearly magenta. The white pouched-green petaled forma alba can occasionally be found mixed in with normal population.
It can be found in the eastern third of the United States and north into Canada, coming very close to the Arctic circle. This widespread species can be found in a wide variety of environments, from coastal plains, to pine barrens, to mountaintops.
requires highly acidic soil but tolerates a range of shade and moisture, though it prefers at least partial shade and well-drained slopes. It is usually found in pine forests, where it can be seen in large colonies, but it also grows in deciduous woods. It was long speculated that a fungus association was needed for growth,6 and that acaule could not be artificially cultivated outside of these associations. However, a greater understanding of orchids in general has shown that this association is only needed to germinate orchid seeds, and is not required once plants begin making true leaves.
This species is common in parts of the northern United States and adjoining provinces of Canada, but it is considered endangered in Illinois and Tennessee, Vulnerable in New York, and Unusual in Georgia.

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