ORCHIS FAMILY - Orchidaceae: Large Yellow Lady's Slipper; Whippoorwill's Shoe; Yellow Moccasin Flower
Cypripedium pubescens (C. hirsutum)
Flower--Solitary, large, showy, borne at the top of a leafy stem 1 to 2 ft. high. Sepals 3, 2 of them united, greenish or yellowish, striped with purple or dull red, very long, narrow; 2 petals, brown, narrower, twisting; the third an inflated sac, open at the top, 1 to 2 in. long, pale yellow, purple lined; white hairs within; sterile stamen triangular; stigma thick. Leaves: Oval or elliptic, pointed, 3 to 5 in. long, parallel-nerved, sheathing.
Preferred Habitat--Moist or boggy woods and thickets; hilly ground.
Distribution--Nova Scotia to Alabama, westward to Minnesota and Nebraska.
Swinging outward from a leaf-clasped stem, this orchid attracts us by its flaunted beauty and decorative form from tip to root, not less than the aesthetic little bees for which its adornment and mechanism are so marvellously adapted. Doubtless the heavy, oily odor is an additional attraction to them.
These common orchids, which are not at all difficult to naturalize in a well-drained, shady spot in the garden, should be lifted with a good ball of earth and plenty of leaf-mould immediately after flowering.
The similar Small Yellow Lady's Slipper (C. parviflorum), a delicately fragrant orchid about half the size of its big sister, has a brighter yellow pouch, and occasionally its sepals and petals are purplish. As they usually grow in the same localities, and have the same blooming season, opportunities for comparison are not lacking. This fairer, sweeter, little orchid roams westward as far as the State of Washington.