Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Yellow Lady's Slipper

I look forward to seeing this plant each spring. The problem is that this is the only specimen of Yellow Lady’s Slipper, Cypripedium calceolus, found at Blue Jay Barrens and it only produces a bloom about once every three years. The other years it either produces no flower bud or the plant gets eaten by a deer.

Even without the flower, the broad, strong veined leaves make it an attractive plant. There’s also a nice hairy covering on the leaves and stem. I’m a big fan of hairy plants.

The flower has three petals. Two are long and curled and drape down from the sides of the bloom, while a lower petal is modified into an open bowl shape. The hood arching above the lower petal is actually one of the sepals. The lower petal gets all the attention. It’s supposed to resemble a slipper, which it might if you mean a slipper for a cartoon character.

The plant has never produced any seed, so I’m suspecting that it cannot self fertilize. I chased a little bee out when I got close to the flower. It’s unlikely that any bee would visit a distant Lady’s Slipper and then show up here. I’m not hopeful of this plant ever being fertilized. I suspect this little bee got in and couldn’t get back out. Not a likely candidate for a pollinator.

Some trees fell a couple of years ago to make a corral around the plant. Maybe this will divert the deer enough to keep them from browsing here. Every year I search the hillsides for more Yellow Lady’s Slippers. It’s quite possible that there are more individuals that I have yet to locate. I hope so.


  1. ...I've been looking for Lady's Slippers but haven't found any yet. I did get to see Trillium and Jack in the Pulpits at Cedar Bog in Urbana this weekend. I hope one of these years it get fertilized and produces seed. Would be wonderful to see a patch of these.

  2. The yellow lady slipper---only one ---is budded but has not blossomed yet but I have my eye on it !! I have not seen any other yellow ones anywhere!! Beautiful pictures!!

  3. The lady slipper is beautiful. I do so hate to see bees trapped. Always seem such a waste.

    Your photographs are beautifu.....

  4. Wow, what a gorgeous bloom.

  5. Great photos Steve! I used to have pink ones out back until the neighborhood hoodlums drove a truck through the old trail. I haven't seen a yellow one in years.

  6. Beautiful, crisp photos, Steve!

  7. Kelly - If it ever does get pollinated, I'll take every one of those dust sized seeds and individually plant them all over the hillside.

    grammie g - In my travels, I've seen more lone Yellow Lady's Slippers than groups. Maybe that's just a common thing. If yours has a bud, it can't be far from blooming.

    Thanks, Cheryl.

    Ted - I agree.

    Thanks, Renee. I get really aggravated by people who drive where they're not supposed to. Just the sound of a 4-wheeler can bring an angry look to my face.

    Thanks, TGIQ.