Stems: leafy. Leaves: oval or elliptic, acute. Flowers: sepals ovate-lanceolate, longer than the lip, yellowish-green striped with purple; petals very narrow and twisted, lip much inflated, bright yellow with greenish-purple lines, a tuft of white jointed hairs at the top of the interior; stamen sterile, triangular; stigma thick, incurved.
In the dry sun-warmed forests, where the birds trill their sweet antiphons and the smooth surface of the pools reflects with steadfast truth the cone-laden branches of fir and pine and the fleecy clouds that float across the azure sky, - there, unafraid, rejoicing in its weird, almost unearthly beauty, the Large Yellow Lady's Slipper flaunts its gaudy flowers.
At the first sight of these exquisite orchids, which also grow on the open arid moraines close to the glaciers, you catch your breath, and a thrill runs through all your veins; there they stand, golden-bright, surrounded by a halo of romance and mystery.
There is little need to describe this Cypripedium, for its showy inflated sac, flanked by long spiral petals and purplish-green sepals, distinguishes it at once, even to the unpractised eye. The leaves of the Large Yellow Lady's Slipper grow alternately on the slender hairy stems, and are large, long-shaped, pointed, many-nerved, and plaited. The name Cypripedium is derived from the Greek, and means Venus's sock or buskin.
Cypripedium parviftorum, or Small Yellow Lady's Slipper, much resembles the preceding species, but may be easily distinguished by means of its smaller flowers, the inflated sacs of which are of a much deeper, richer shade of yellow, and are often marked with reddish-purple spots and lines, and also by its wider oval-shaped leaves and thicker stems.
In July, that exquisite month which lies within the very heart of summer, should you wander amid the mountains when dawn trumpets forth the glittering rise of day, then pause beside some sluggish alpine stream, which lies coiled in sleepy curves, for there, far removed from the haunts of men, you may be fortunate enough to find the fragrant little Cypripedium parviftorum.
Unlike the Large species, this Small Yellow Lady's Slipper usually seeks the seclusion of the hazy hollows and the moist misty woods. Rightly have these lovely sweet-scented flowers been proclaimed "Golden slippers meet for fairies' feet."