Cypripedium species are members of the orchid family. Most are native across much of North America and some parts of Europe. Also referred to as lady slippers, these interesting plants have only two leaves branching out from the center. The flower itself resembles a slipper or moccasin, which is what spawned its name. These dainty blooms (ranging from white, yellow and deep pink to nearly purple) remain tightly closed with exception to the small opening in the front.
Many of these plants are considered to be endangered in some areas due to over collecting from the wild. According to Indian lore, these plants were thought to induce dreams and were once used as a sedative. Unfortunately, they also happen to be a favorite food source for many insects and deer.
Collecting and transplanting from the wild is strongly discouraged both because of its rarity and low survival rate. However, various species are grown commercially and can be obtained for gardening purposes so growing a lady slipper wildflower in your own garden is possible.
Lady slippers prefer to grow within their natural environments – shady woodland areas. Interestingly enough, lady slippers require the aid of fungus in spreading their seeds, and a single plant can live up to 20 years or more if left alone.
By Nikki Phipps
Source: Planting Flower Bulbs