Cypripedium, from Cypris, Venus, and pedion, sock or buskin, that is, Venus's slipper.
Perennial. A remarkably beautiful flower blooming in sandy or rocky woods. Newfoundland to Manitoba, southward to Tennessee and North Carolina. The State flower of Minnesota. Rare in northern Ohio. May, June.
Fleshy, in fibrous tufts.
Downy, two-leaved at base, eight to twelve inches high, one-flowered, with a green bract at the top.
Two, basal, six to eight inches long, oval, slightly hairy, many-ribbed.
Fragrant, pink, rarely white, large, showy, drooping from the summit of the scape.
Three, lanceolate, elongated, pointed, spreading, greenish purple; two of these united into one under the lip.
Three; two of these narrower and longer than the sepals; the third, called the lip, is an inflated sac, often two inches long, slit down the middle and folded inwardly above, pink veined with darker pink; upper part of interior crested with long white hairs.
United with the style into an unsymmet-rical declined column bearing an anther on either side and a dilated, triangular, petal-like, sterile stamen above, arching over the broad concave stigma.
Pollinated by bees. Nectar-bearing.
The Orchids are a group of perennial herbs with corms or bulbs or tuberous rootstock, more or less sheathing leaves, and very irregular flowers. In fact, the Orchid family is the most peculiar in the vegetable world in the structure as well as the shape of its flowers. Of the six floral leaves that every Orchid flower possesses the three outer may be considered sepals, the inner three petals, of which one is always peculiar in shape. This one is considered a petal, though it may be in the form of a pouch or a cornucopia or a fringed banner or a broad platform, but it is always unusual. Technically, it is called the lip of the flower, thus leaving but two ordinary petals in the usual descriptions. In the case of all the Lady's-Slippers this lip becomes a pouch.
The arrangement of parts makes it virtually impossible for the flower to be fertilized by its own pollen. The stamens and petals are united into a single organ called the column, which projects forward from the stem into the open space at the top and within the lip. The stamens lie back of the stigma in such a position that the pollen could not, except by help of insects, be transferred from one to the other.
The large lip is opened with a narrow slit down in front, and the edges of the opening are turned inward. This forms a veritable trap, easy to get into but quite difficult to get out of, at least by the same door. The bee easily enters this open door into the sac. Once in and satisfied with honey she looks for a way out. She finds a way finally, but not the way she came in. At the top of the flower, on either side of the column, she finds a passage into the open air just wide enough to push through. In doing this she brushes against the sticky pollen mass of the open anthers and carries away some of it upon her hairy sides. If she enters another flower and in due time gets out as before, she will be very likely to leave some pollen on the stigmatic surface of that flower.
Moccasin-Flower. Cypripedium acaule
This contrivance for cross-fertilization is so elaborate that observers tell us it often defeats its own ends and the plants are chiefly propagated by the root.
The Moccasin-Flower or Pink Lady's-Slipper is one of the earliest and most beautiful of the genus. It is the State flower of Minnesota. In early May in rich woodlands the flowering stem may be found rising between two large, thick, pointed leaves and bearing at its summit a great pink pouch curiously veined and crossed with darker lines; the one noticeable petal attended by variously pointed and twisted sepals and petals, all disregarded for the magnificence of the one. In short, it is a most gorgeous flower and one wonders " What potent blood hath modest May " to be able to produce such a one in our northern woods.