Late May, and bright yellow orchids, the yellow lady's slippers, are in bloom here and there in some of the occasional Illinois woods which still support such opulent flowers. Long ago they were Ear more abundant, but an orchid cannot be safely picked nor its woods pastured; it is fairly easy to bring about extermination of wild orchids in Illinois, and this already has taken place in certain species. Others are so rare that to find one is a high-lighted event of the year. On such an occasion, the splendid discovery should be left to remain in those favored woods where it can make seeds to increase the supply.
Cypripedium parviflorum Salisb.
May - June Woods.
Yellow lady's Slipper - whip-poor-will's shoe - is like a bright yellow Indian moccasin with twisted, red-brown ties which stand outward from the flower, with a red-brown, twisted petal high over the slipper. It is a delightful contrast in colors, and the form of the flower is superb. The broad, parallel-veined, yellow-green Leaves are few on the straight stem, and accent the exotic shape of the flower.
Yellow lady's slippers live in hilly, often rocky, woods. They require shade enough, but with sunshine filtering through the high oak leaves..
In the rich leaf mold of the oak-acid forest floor, the root-lock- grow and each year Bend up a new shoot until often quite a group of lady's slippers stands in the sunshine. Pioneer children knew them and ruthlessly picked them; botany classes in the past gathered them: young ladies on a picnic gaily took home an armload of glistening golden wild orchids. Woods were cut and pastured. The rich leaf mold washed away. The lady's slippers decreased in numbers . . . but still in rare spots in Illinois a few remain and blossom in May.