Lady Slipper Orchid Facts
- First of all, the beautiful and diverse Lady Slipper Orchid family contains more than 50 species, over 30 of which claim North America as their habitat range.
- In addition to the diversity of its family, each species varies from other orchids in that they have been classified as diandrous. Each of these unique plants has two fertile anthers, rather than one, like other orchids.
- While climate change and habitat loss threaten many plants worldwide, many of these species remain somewhat fortunate. This happens because twelve species occur on protected National Forest System lands, in the United States.
- This family has nearly disappeared from the extreme western portion of its range. In Great Britain, while the site remains carefully guarded, only one small population of a single species remains extant
Lady Slipper Orchid Physical Description
The various species of the beautiful Lady Slipper Orchid family vary in appearance, yet possess many general similarities.
Each remains characterized by the presence of slipper-shaped pouches on the flowers, and the role these play in pollination. The stems of the different species range in height from 8-28 in (20-70 cm) and usually support 1-2 flowers, yet 3 appear occasionally.
They present a wide variety of colors, including pink, red, brown, white, yellow, and purple. Meanwhile, the leaves of most species display a unique light green color, which further sets them apart from most orchids.
Lady Slipper Habitat, Distribution, and Ecology
The gorgeous Lady Slipper Orchid family has a habitat range that primarily includes North America and parts of Asia and Europe.
While their beauty awes their admirers, their growth rate presents problems for those attempting to preserve the family. Experts rank them as among the slowest-growing plants known to man. They often require as much as 11 years of growth before maturing and producing flowers.
Furthermore, they only reproduce via propagation and rhizomes, not with tubers as well, like other orchids. In addition, the tiny seeds rely upon a symbiotic association with a mycorrhizal fungus for germination, making efforts to artificially propagate the family difficult.
The various species inhabit temperate, boreal, and tropical forests.